You may not have heard of The Churchills, but if you happen to watch TV you’ve undoubtedly heard one of their songs. Their songs have appeared on everything from Scrubs to The Sopranos to MTV shows galore; they run the gamut. But, if you’ve only heard one of their songs on a tv show, and haven’t seen them live, you’re missing out on the real magic behind it all. The band (Ron Haney on vocals and guitar, Bart Schoudel on vocals and bass, Jed Higgerson on guitar and Tom Cottone on drums) have amassed a diehard group of loyal followers by touring the country from coast to coast a few times over. Anyone that has seen them once has inevitably gone back for more (usually a lot more).
Their latest album “The Odds Of Winning” boasts insightful lyrics with infectious power pop riffs that have to bravely step up to the plate to compete with the band’s spot on harmonies. Anthemic choruses, gut-wrenching ballads, and pure party songs…The Churchills leave no song unturned. If you need more proof, check out their video for “I’m A Sucker For A Girl In Uniform’” which is dedicated to strong women everywhere. Girl Power!
Seriously…what’s not to love? We dare you to find something.
Interviewed by: Laura DiBetta | February 2007
Where did the band name come from?
Eric: It started with a Brian Wilson reference. There was a record that I was really into at the time, and it was called “Smile”. This was back in 1966, when they were trying to promote the record, someone asked him to describe it, and he said it was “like a teenage symphony to God”. I thought that was such a cool phrase. I think a lot of things that The Beach Boys were trying to do back then, was stuff that I was really into, with their harmonies and melodies, and I thought of naming a band The Teenage Symphonies.
How did the band form?
Eric: I’ve known Gavin, because we went to school together. I was working on some songs, and I gave Gavin a song and said “lets start a band, lets make it happen”. So Gavin and I started working together, then Pete got involved in the mix because he was a friend of Gavin’s. That was how we met. Chris was added not long after as the last piece.
How long have you been together?
Eric: things only really started happening in March of last year, because that was when Chris joined. That was when we really started practicing, and started realizing we could really turn this into something. So, March of last year was when we really became official, but we started working back in 2003.
Any musical influences?
Eric: Obviously, there’s a lot of Beach Boys influence. Really into a lot of the late 60’s pop. The Beatles. A lot modern bands, also. The Strokes, OK Go, Stone Temple Pilots.
Pete: Have we mentioned Queen?
Chris: There’s definitely a Queen influence, also.
Eric: I think what we try to do is we take all these things that we really like about music, and I’d say a lot of it stems from the late 60’s era, to the more instrumental parts of the early 70’s, and then putting a modern edge to it, and making it poppy and accessible. It’s all about finding a good balance between all those things.
Who is the primary songwriter?
Eric: It’s me right now. We started out on the EP with the songs that I’ve written. We’re sort of moving in the direction of more collaborative effort stuff while we’re working on some songs right now. They are a lot edgier. We’re all trying to work together. We’re doing some songs by Gavin right now, like a song that we’re working on right now has a lot of Queen influence in it. It’s cool.
You produced your self-titled debut EP independently. What was that experience like?
Eric: It was a good experience. The way the production went on the record, it was actually pretty fragmented. They started out as demos, and we made some adjustments here and there. The recording actually started back in 2004, I think? But it spanned over 2 years of refining and getting it just right. Gavin would add things to it, Pete would add things to it, until we finally came together. I mean, it was a good experience. Very fragmented, but it was a good learning experience. It was definitely fun. We’re happy with the results.
Where can people buy this EP?
Right now, it’s on our Myspace page. There’s a link there that will redirect you to the label, which is an independent label that we’re on right now called “Light In The Dark Records” out of Pennsylvania. You basically just order it online. There’s a couple of stores in Boston that have it now. We’re hoping to get it on iTunes, it just hasn’t happened yet. Or you can get it at the shows.
What is the writing process like for you guys?
Eric: It usually stems from an idea that one of us has, then everyone has something to bring to it.
Pete: Like right now, we have some songs we’re working on, and Chris wrong the song, but then we’ll get the melodies, the most important thing with the chord changes and the melodies and all that, then record the parts, and then go back and try to add to it. Like now, I’m listening to it trying to create a bass line, then we will talk about it and change it around to use what works. We’re trying to pack it with our own, I guess, specialties. We put everyone’s good ideas to use.
Eric: Initially, I always used to write everything by default on my own, but everyone has their own thing to offer, as a band, now.
Are the lyrics based on personal experiences?
Eric: Yeah, they are definitely from personal experiences.
Describe your music in one word.
Dream band to play with?
Eric: Van Halen.
Pete: Paul McCartney.
Chris: You guys see the Super Bowl? Prince.
Gavin: I’ll go more modern. I wouldn’t say ‘dream band’, but I’d like to play with The Strokes.
What sets The Teenage Symphonies apart from other bands out there?
Eric: I think that we’re bringing something back that lacks in a lot of music now. I just don’t feel like there’s very much sophistication in music anymore. There was a lot of that going on before in music that was popular, and I don’t know if it was just people being lazy, or whatever, but I think that people can write really good sophisticated music that’s given thought, and be successful. We are just trying to bring back things like that, things that we love about music. We love guitars. We love harmonies, we love melodies. We really do music that moves you, that makes you feel good. It’s not too contrived, it’s natural.
What is your ultimate goal as a band?
Eric: To conquer the world! No, I mean, obviously we want to get signed. The main thing, is we want to be playing our music for the world.
Gavin: On the west coast.
Eric: Yeah, we just want to be out there playing.
What’s next for the band?
Eric: We’re just trying to take it to the next level. Right now, we’re still working on new music. We’re gonna be doing a little bit of shedding. And, after that, we’ll start booking more shows, and just get out there. Get our name out there. Last year we played a decent number of shows, and everything was well received, and it was definitely a booster. Now we want to crank out more material, get out there, and just start playing it. We’ll just see what happens. We’ll keep rocking, and everything will just sorta fall into place.
Any last words to the fans?
Chris: Thanks for listening to our music, guys. Make sure you get our record when it comes out. Whenever it gets up on Myspace, it’ll be easier to get. Keep coming to the shows! We’ve met a lot of fans, actually. A lot of people come out to shows that we’ve met through Myspace, and it’s really cool. They’re all really cool people. It really helps a lot when we go to a venue and we don’t expect anyone to show up at all, then some fans have comes from New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We get to talk to them, hang out at the show, and just hear what they have to say about the music. So, yeah, thanks again for your support! Keep coming out to hang out with us!
Check them out on myspace:
How long has the band been together?
“Sarvela” has been around since 1989. The current line up has only been together for 13 months, the best 13 months I’ve ever had in this band.
How did you come together:
As I said, the band Sarvela has been around for years and members have come and gone. Sarvela was in a holding period and dormant after the Debt cd being released in “99”. The current line up was brought together out of pure fate. I moved to Vermont to chill out and refocus my entire life. Starting a new band was the last thing on my mind. We, like most bands have that story of…”this guy came into the music store I work at, and he was looking for a band. He says he’s a singer but if he was any good, he wouldn’t be living in Vermont, right?” Well, I was the guy looking for a band, so you tell me. Can a metal singer live in Vermont? After the first jam we had in December 05, it just made sense to continue a life long dream, and this time it would be with “The Boys in the Woods” not “ The Boys in the Hood”. It was like walking into a family; seeing how they have been playing and gigging together for 7 years prior to my arrival.
To anyone who’s never heard your music before, how would you describe it?
This question is the one that this band always cringes at, but here goes. We don’t sound like anyone but ourselves. With that said, our sound is familiar yet different, kind of like if Sebastian Bach in 1989 sang with Zakk Wylde in 2007. We’re a straight up, in your face, emotionally unstable, metal band. No one has ever come up to us and said…I have never heard a band sound like that…it’s more like “fuck, you sound like…a little bit of everything that makes metal,…metal. Judas Priest to AIC and Metalica to Skid Row and Godsmack to Bon Jovi…yep you all read that right.
You just released a new cd – Can you give us a run down of the songs on it?
Song 1, Habitual Failure, kickin’, spittin’ punchin’ in your face Guns -n- Roses meets Buckcherry. The title says it all. Song 2, Crucified “the hit” as fans call it. It’s got all the hooks, harmonies, killer guitars and solo and of course the big sing along chorus. It’s a powerful song. People always tell us they can identify with that song. Song 3, Rage, purely pissed off and calling someone out! Song 4, Ghost, This song was written for and about Layne Staley of AIC. Layne has given me so much inspiration. So, I felt I had to write about how I saw him and his struggles, whether I was right or wrong, it was my take on Layne’s life. It is truly tragic. Song 5, Wasted Days, it’s about my struggles, my survival and my addiction for success! Song 6, Can’t bring me down, it’s about how much I love and appreciate the woman that saved my live…literally. Just reading that back gives me a realization that without her, I wouldn’t be answering these question, never mind recording a new CD. Song 7, Hell’s Open, every guy knows all to well about this song. It’s about that unbearable, super bitch, that fucks your life up completely!
Where can people buy it?
Right now you can get it on our myspace page or at any of our shows.
What is the normal writing process for the band? Is everyone involved?
Everyone is involved at one point or another but there is no normal writing process. We have about 25 or more songs that have been written since Jan 06. Some were written by the guys before we got together and I brought some as well. Most and also my favorite songs are the ones where we all contribute something. I have always been the primary songwriter in my bands of the past, however, the final outcome seemed to be missing something. I’ve always wanted to write with people that could take my ideas and make them better and there is NO doubt that I have found that with Bruce and Seth. Although we write about a thousand different things, there is one common element to every song—TRUTH.
Who/what would you cite as band influences?
Alice in Chains, Pantera, Skid Row, Megadeth, Bon Jovi, Zakk Wylde, Metallica, Disturbed ,G-n-R
In a market that is saturated with new bands and new music, what sets Sarvela apart from the rest?
We write what we want and love, not what the industry may be looking for. Our music is about us and we’re just lucky and honored that other people enjoy it. We believe that if your songwriting is honest, people will pick up on that and they see through artists that are riding the coat tails of what’s popular at that time. That’s not us! If we never become hugely successful, we can take comfort in that we never sold out…fuck it… We can live with that. We might have to ask if you want fries with that but we’ll never have to answer why we weren’t true to our music!!
There have been so many great shows for me (Brian Sarvela) from the Tweeter Center in MA to the sold out shows in LA. The best gig would have to be the first show we did with the current line up. It wasn’t a huge gig. We didn’t get paid. There wasn’t a ton of people. So, why was it the best? It was the first time I felt that these are the guys and these are the songs that will make us successful!
Any gig that Kirk Lantis did our sound, if you can actually call it sound. He should be called a suck guy not a sound guy. Bands beware.
We wouldn’t mind headlining a 2007 Monsters of Rock festival with Metallica, Disturbed and Bon Jovi with special guests Rage against the Machine.
Ultimate goal as a band?
Our goal is simple…Play music until we can’t play or write anymore. Our daily goal is that we don’t forget it’s about the music, respect our gifts and don’t take them for granted.
What do you think of the current state of the music industry?
It is completely fucked up, it has no direction, no focus, not even a style that’s selling right now. The late 70’s metal, Judas Priest and Sabbath, Early 80’s Motley Crue and Dio, late 80’s Bon Jovi with hair metal, 90’s Alice in Chains and Rob Zombie, early 2000’s Disturbed and Godsmack. Currently….Who the fuck knows!! And we love it because the sky’s the limit and anything goes! This year there will be more bands from the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s getting back together because there is a huge void in music business. We want to fill as much of that void as possible.
Myspace – Blessing or Curse?
Blessing hands Down! That’s how you and thousands of other people found us. It’s a little over done, but what good thing isn’t.
February 16th at Electra Night Club in West Lebanon NH exit 20 off I-89 north. We’ll have more posted on our myspace page.
Message to your supporters?
That’s easy…Thank you! We want all the people who have supported us over the years to be able to say, “We always told those guys to never get up, they didn’t and look at them now!”