American Authors – “Believer”
***SXSW 2013 – OEB FRESHMAN FAVORITE***
Pairs Well With…fun., Matt & Kim, The Limousines
The Limousines – “The Future”
Pairs Well With…Neon Trees, The Sounds, Miike Snow
They put on an excellent show two years ago, actually as part of the same showcase as Neon Trees. Glad they’ll be back.
Up to Date - The Limousines
Today, the Limousines were spotlighted as MTV’s “Push” Artist of the Week. The station highlights a new band every week that is rising in the mainstream music world. Comparing the band to MGMT, Depeche Mode and the Human League, the article predicts the Limousines will cause a buzz this year through appearances at “major festivals around the world”.
MTV’s choice of the Limousines isn’t without precident, as the music station has taken a keen liking to the band in recent months. Shortly before SXSW, the band struck a licensing deal with the station to feature songs in their reality programming, landing the music of the Limousines in major youth-oriented shows such as “Jersey Shore”. Even more recently, the band has been featured in trailers for the upcoming made-for-TV movie “Worst. Prom. Ever.”. MTV.com recently highlighted the band’s contribution to the soundtrack which is set to feature multiple tracks from Get Sharp. Last week, MTV’s Hollywood Crush blog shared a couple words on the band and offered a free download of the single “Internet Killed the Video Star”.
MTV certainly doesn’t have the tastemaker power it once did in the 80s and 90s, but it is still a powerful force in the industry with a large online presence and some music-oriented programming throughout the day. This is an especially interesting development for the Limousines, as their support has mostly come from their local San Francisco market. I’m sure there will be more than a few listeners turned on to the band through MTV’s promotion this week which is perfect timing leading up to their first national tour supporting Neon Trees. MTV shared a few clips of note in today’s article including the video for “Internet”, a short interview regarding the filming of the video and a nice live performance of “The Future”.
Introducing the 12: The Limousines
“It’s still a fun thing and I thought if it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be doing this. Goal number one equals fun. I feel incredibly good knowing we’re doing this ourselves, and love seeing new fans come out of it. It kind of proves that if the music is good, it’ll get out there somehow.”
Hometown: San Francisco, CA
Label: Dangerbird Records
Currently Supporting: 2010 debut LP Get Sharp
Operation Every Band Reporter: Kevin McStravick
In the alternative music realm, pure pop is a rare thing. Instead of subtly trying to incorporate pop melodies around another genre, The Limousines completely embrace the dance side of the independant music scene. The band’s story is one that only could have been written in the digital age. Songwriter and vocalist Eric Victorino spent the last decade fronting the alternative rock band Strata, a band that has made some waves, especially in the San Francisco area. He is primarily a lyricist and even a poet, already releasing two literary collections. After moving on from Strata, Eric had a vision of combining storytelling and dance music for his next project that took shape upon hearing a Jay Z remix album from an upstart producer in the Bay Area named Giovanni Giusti.
The duo that would become The Limousines connected for the first time in 2007 through a mutual friend and quickly began trading musical ideas back and forth. Giusti would send a beat to Eric, who would come back with a melody and some lyrics. They ended up constructing three or four songs completely before even meeting in person, doing most of the collaborating over their iPhones. The band did meet in person for a recording session at The Panda Studios in Oakland to put the finishing touches on their two debut singles “Scrapbook 1998” and “New Year’s Resolution”. As these songs and others were completed, they would be released for free on the internet through their Myspace and Tumblr pages, mostly to share with friends in the local scene. Things started to snowball early on as local Bay Area radio stations starting spinning a couple of their demos and they even gained some support from a Sirius radio station, earning the ear of the folks at Universal Republic, gaining The Limousines a single song deal for an early demo of “Very Busy People”. This led to their debut EP Scrapbook which was released in late 2009.
While the band concurrently began to shape their live configuration, The Limousines set their sights towards putting together their growing catalog into a full length record. The album was anchored two singles, the aforementioned “Very Busy People” and a quriky and upbeat pop song cleverly titled “Internet Killed the Video Star”. The band was convinced they had something special with “Internet”, and Eric quickly conceptualized a music video that would fit well with the song. The band had under $1000 to work with and just the help of their friends and family, but managed to produce, record and film the video completely independently. The video ended up being a big success for the band and currently has over 500,000 on Youtube. Their debut LP Get Sharp, again an iPhone driven effort finished off in Giusti’s home studio, was released independantly on July 27, 2010 in local record stores, digitally and nationally through the fashion retailer Hot Topic.
The band leveraged their exposure from Get Sharp by touring for a growing fanbase throughout 2010. The band makes a point to mention that they didn’t actively look for a record deal throughout their first two releases, deeming it unnecessary at this point in their career due to the advances in independent digital distribution in the last few years. Nevertheless, the band did ink a deal this December, signing on with Dangerbird Records for future releases and promotion. The last few months featured The Limousines playing one-off shows in major cities and featured an interesting promotional vehicle through a licensing deal with MTV, putting their songs into soundtracks of popular reality television shows such as “The Jersey Shore”. The next chapter picks up with their experience at SXSW, performing nine shows in a period of ten days in Austin. The band is currently prepping for a hometown headlining show this month followed by an East Coast opening tour with Neon Tress.
Kevin’s Take: I found The Limousines through my SXSW project, catching on to the pop hooks of “Internet” and “Very Busy People” upon first listen. Electronic/alternative pop isn’t my normal listening fare, but my ears have been opened in recent years through my growing affection for similar bands like Miike Snow and Passion Pit. I didn’t have the band on my “must-sees” at the time, but I ended up at the Billboard showcase at SXSW to catch the band among a strong showcase. They were incredible that night; I immediately knew The Limousines would be added as one of the “The 12”. Their story plays out so well in the digital age, so I’m excited to share their experiences throughout the year.
Best of SXSW - 4) The Limousines @ Billboard Bungalow
Thursday’s evening shows presented a slew of choices, but we settled on the showcase at Billboard Bungalow on the strength of the full lineup. The night was hit and miss, featuring a meandering and confusing set by The Knux, a disconnected, yet impressive at times, performance by K. Flay and a nice and energetic set by California Wives. I would question our choice if not for the highlight show put on by The Limousines. I’d been turned onto the band through my project, but really only dug into a couple of their songs, especially the catchy gem “Internet Killed the Video Star”. Admitedly, I couldn’t quite remember what The Limousines sounded like until my show buddy put the songs and the artist together for me.
I tried to explore many genres in the four days of SXSW, but there were very few bands that fell as strongly in the pop catagory as The Limousines. Armed with keys, computers, drums, and vocals, The Limousines completely embrace upbeat pop music, but deliver it with an indie rock edge. Vocalist Eric Victorino employs a punky and quirky soprano, sounding like a unique mix between Rivers Cuomo and Freddie Mercury at his best. I was reminded of some modern alternative rock vocalists a little as well, but it’s not overly polished or formulaic. Musically, they definitely focused on anthemic choruses combined with danceable rock rhythms and pop melodies. Highlights included the upbeat “The Future”, a hands-in-the-air enducing “Very Busy People” and the aforementioned closing number “Internet Killed the Video Star”, sounding stadium-ready for that three song run.
The Limousines stand out as one of my favorite surprises of the festival; I didn’t even really have them highlighted as one of the top draws at this six-band showcase. Their live show really outshined their already strong studio material, so hopefully they can pull a lot of gigs and ears in the coming year. They’re a band of a lot of potential, and a true winner from my perspective at SXSW. Great, great show!
I saw this duo Saturday night at Emo’s while waiting for Neon Trees, and it was the happiest unintentional discovery that I made the entire week. Seriously, check them out.