After a particularly exhausting day I finally had a second to catch my breath. I’m at The Library on the Lower East Side waiting for Chicago trio On An On. The group is making a stop in New York for a slew of appearances and will be playing Mercury Lounge later that evening, which marks their first show in NYC together. Give In, their debut album, has just hit the masses a week prior and already stands to make my end of year list. The album sound-tracked some of the deepest moments I had this winter. Absorbing the album in my room on cold winter nights spent saging myself of the past and prepping for what lay ahead. In between a sip of my Modelo tall boy, On An On’s Nate and Alissa Eiseland and Ryne Estwing arrive and settle in the booth alongside me.
There are conversations you have with people who are good friends or just people making a brief pit stop that activate something in your brain that makes you feel as though that’s exactly what you needed to hear and experience at that time. Sitting down with the band really allowed me to peel back a layer and gain insight into the inner workings of the road that led On an On to this juncture, as well as reinvigorate my own path.
What did you learn when making this album? Ryne Estwing: We finally got a taste of a recording experience that was something we might not have known was there before but mostly didn’t, this is what recording should be like, were in the studio it’s organic, sounds are being created in the studio its not all pre written not all demoed out. It was very refreshing, the recording process, as much as you demo things, there should be a lot to explore in the studio. Nate Eiesland: We learned a new set of values, a big idea, one of the most distinct ways to shift for us. We got a clean slate; got to start a new band, something that we were all really creatively excited by. Getting to make a record was really interesting because at that point you don’t have any loyalties that you have to honor so we got to really explore and experiment in a way that was almost animalistic, it was instantaneous, I like this, I’m gonna do it.
Our values changed, and what we were valuing were moments of vulnerability and honesty, and flaws, and maybe that was something we would have tried to avoid before and when they happened in the studio there was a switch and we realized how much energy was in those moments, and it might be nervous energy and something that was not even close to confidence, but that’s something that’s so much more magnetic, that’s something that jumps out of the speaker and you can link to as listener. And I think that was a huge change for us. We just wanted something that feels really vibrant and human, flawed and magical. Alissa Eiseland: Just being in the studio, relaxing, exploring and experimenting and not being like oh my god the record button is going and I have to be executing this perfectly because I think that really takes away from the exploratory and the relaxation of being we are all here making music, its better if its a good time versus like "you’re on."
Was there a moment where things shifted for you and that propelled you forward? AE:This last tour was very impactful for us, we were like hell yeah! NE: We were just kind of like what’s gonna happen? Maybe what’s happening now could be. We expected much slower of a burn for this, we were not expecting this to be catching on this well. We had this feeling in the studio that was like we love this, when we put out the first single "Ghosts" and there was a really good reception, there was this moment of holy shit people are into what were into! RE: We were use to the slow burn, for about 8 years being in other bands, we were kind of ready for another slow burn and this wasn’t that at all. AE: The fact that we kind of have that mentality really grounds us as a band as were doing anything that comes up, any opportunity we are just really grateful.
At any point did you feel weren’t on the right path and questioned what you were doing? AE:Any questioning that happened was way before our first show even before we really finalized the mixes of our records and prepared our material for live. NE:It was a new process; we were all drunk off that, it didn’t seem to ever be a question of is this, the right move? It just felt so right. To start a new project, start a new sound, a lot of it fell into place really nicely, and just gave us the encouragement of, this feels really good.
The band is running behind schedule, they want to grab a quick slice of pizza and make it to the venue to check out opening band Field Mouse. Tonight feels as a definite touchstone moment for the group into what is sure to be the next evolution of their lives in many ways. When I swoop into Mercury Lounge, a handful of my friends from different points in my life are there. All of us allowing the universe to carry us forward and tonight, all our points have met. On An On have shown the this greater force that they are willing to put in the work, they have passed the tests and paid their dues. When you put all your energy and passion into doing what you love and have fun doing it, the reward will be met with sweetness and grace.
The band will be playing tonight at Glasslands Gallery in Brooklyn. Now go dig deep inside yourself with their first single "Ghosts."