By Julia Weber, Features Editor
[Photo courtesy of Harley Hernandez]
Q&A with Lavandula
Consisting of Zach Winkleman on keys and rhythm guitar, Landon Elliott on lead guitar, Wyatt Fratianne on drums, Isaac King on bass and Joey Negrete on guitar and vocals, Lavandula are a rock band from Athens, Ohio and the 2022 winner of ACRN’s annual Battle of the Bands. I joined the band during a rehearsal leading up to Battle of the Bands to talk about Lavandula’s origins and evolution, creative process and the Athens music scene.
[This interview has been edited for length and clarity.]
Julia: So, you guys are playing Battle of the Bands. That’s pretty exciting. How are we feeling about that?
Zach: I feel pretty good after (our show) last week. I feel like we can definitely do that and maybe even better, but we’ve got to crunch this stuff down.
Isaac: Last week, we had a show at The Union – it was last Thursday. In a week, we have Battle of the Bands and (last week) was a really good show. We had a lot of people there.
Julia: Yeah, it looked like it was really well attended.
Isaac: Yeah, I think we’ll definitely be prepared, but we’ve got to put in a lot of work. The thing with us – tell me if I’m wrong – we put stuff off but when there is a time thing, we get it done…
Wyatt: Last week was like, ‘we have to work really hard’ and we did, but we just gotta do it.
Julia: How long have you guys been playing music together?
Zach: A little over a year?
Isaac: So, for us four (Isaac, Zach, Joey, Landon), we all lived in the same dorm freshman year – we’re sophomores now – except for Wyatt, Wyatt’s a freshman, but we’re sophomores. We all lived in the same dorm and me, Landon and Zach were in a band. First semester, we didn’t really do anything with it.
Zach: It was two months. We just released some online covers and then that broke up because one of the members that we had had to go back home sadly.
Isaac: And the other joined another band. But then, second semester … we started writing together with Joey.
Joey: We were good friends through that time before I joined the band and so we would write and play together.
Isaac: And then, yeah, we didn’t get any shows. We just recorded two songs in the studio, second semester, up until the very last day school we were still recording. And then this summer, Wyatt came along and drums for us now – he’s from Columbus.
Julia: Awesome. That’s really cool. I think the Athens music scene shifts a lot, so I’ve definitely heard that story before of bands morphing and changing throughout semesters, but it’s cool that it was so organic. Can you tell me a little bit about your musical process like writing, recording, jam sessions, all that fun stuff?
Landon: A lot of our writing specifically, someone comes in with a small idea and we’ll like put it in, record that one idea ,and then just layer onto that and add length to the idea.
Zach: Yeah, we write as we go.
Isaac: Like, two or three weeks ago we were like, ‘we’re going to have a writing session.’ It was, like, three or four hours.
Joey: Don’t force it. Record one simple idea then build off of it.
Zach: We all have good ideas that just need to be developed. … We’re pretty honest about what we like and what we don’t like, which is a good thing. … I appreciate it because I feel like we get exactly what we want.
Julia: Yeah, it’s good to have that kind of relationship where you can be honest with your band members and dig to find what’s good. Other than the obvious of trying to gain visibility in the Athens music scene, was there any reason for entering this year’s Battle of the Bands?
Isaac: Last year, the band I talked about first semester, we had nothing released – we had one cover on YouTube – and we saw this Battle of the Bands. Landon’s mom sent it (to us), ‘we should do this, we should definitely do it.’ And we applied last year and didn’t get in, which is understandable because we had one thing on YouTube, but now, we released two songs on Spotify a month ago.
Julia: I saw that. I was going to ask about it after.
Isaac: … Last year we didn’t get into it and we were like, ‘we should definitely do this next year.’ I think we see potential in a lot of the stuff that we do.
Julia: Nice. Going back to the Spotify releases, I saw that you guys just released stuff on Spotify. Can you tell me about that? I know that you said you were recording last semester, but maybe just walk me through that.
Zach: We recorded it all in Schoonover’s studio … and the producer that we worked with, Shanaya, was great. That was a three month process.
Isaac: Our friends’ band was like, ‘we’re going to the studio’ and that got us thinking, ‘maybe we can go to the studio’ because we were a band for, like, a month at this time and so we were thinking ‘we should go to the studio’ and I reached out to this producer. She was super – she’s so good at what she does. She’s our friend now – I consider her our friend. We went into the studio and the first song “Can’t Wait to Tell You” that we did was probably – we went in three days, three sessions and then “Colors of Love” was (at) the very end of second semester, so our last session was, like, we got out of school on a Friday or something, we were (in the studio) Friday night. It was at the very end of the semester.
Julia: I like that you guys were able to dive in so soon. It sounds like you have a really good bond as a group and are able to dig into your work right away. … Is there anything in the works for you guys?
Zach: We did a show at the Smiling Skull. That was our first show and we did the Union show last Thursday. We have Battle of the Bands coming up and then we were invited to a few shows within the next month or two and then in December, The Union invited us back for a benefit concert.