The Heirs, a five piece band from Los Angeles, California, are redefining youth culture with nods to 80s alternative pop in their songs about breaking glass ceilings and shedding light on the idea that the world is yours to inherit. After taking the oceanfront stage at Riptide Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale, Florida for their final show of 2017, Savannah Hudson (vocals), Brandon Hudson (vocals/guitar), Alex Flagstad (guitar/synths/vocals), Eian McNeely (bass/synth/vocals), and Brennan Benko (drums) sat down with us to discuss their inspirations as a band, empowering women, and what to expect from their next EP.
Loveless Magazine: A few months ago you guys released your single “Suburban Wonderland.” Can you describe the inspiration behind it?
Savannah Hudson: Well, we’re based in Los Angeles, so that’s definitely a huge part of our music and a part of our writing process because it’s such an inspiration to live there. The youth culture and the city, it’s so inspiring for us. So, that song was basically about our lives in the suburban wonderland of LA. We made a music video and it kind of embodies exactly what the song is about and all of our friends were able to be in the video so it was great. It’s just kind of like whatever you want it to be.
Brandon Hudson: It was all authentic. I mean, the reason that we’re called The Heirs was based off of a song by The Smiths called “How Soon Is Now?” and the lyric is “I am the son and the heir of nothing in particular.” We wanted to use that as a way of representing youth culture and adolescence and growing up and kind of figuring your shit out because that’s what happens when you’re a kid. We really wanted to embody that character with the song and with the music and we hope you guys enjoyed it and if you haven’t yet, check it out.
LM: I’ve read about you talking about your name as a band and how it references a generation of kids about to inherit the world, and I think the “Suburban Wonderland” music video definitely portrays that idea. Is that a theme that might come up in your next EPs or album?
SH: Definitely! We want that theme to kind of stay as our general aesthetic for the band just because we believe so heavily that us as a band isn’t what The Heirs is, it’s us as a culture, us as the youth, and the people who like the band and enjoy the music. We’re all one and we’re all doing it together.
LM: This theme of breaking barriers and making this world your own definitely comes up on other songs of yours. On the Ecliptic EP, the song “Ecliptic” has been described as empowering for a lot of women and, Savannah, I was wondering what your take, being a woman in music, is on this message.
SH: I definitely think it’s a strong, male-led industry but us women are coming out and being able to not have a barrier in what you need to wear, what you need to sing, or how you need to act. I’m one girl touring with five guys year round and I’m constantly surrounded by men and so it’s just important to know your place and to know your standards as a woman. To uplift other women is also a huge thing. I’m a female artist and if I see another female artist I’m not going to be like, “Oh, she can’t be on tour with us because she’s a girl.” No, I’m going to be like “Fuck yeah, you’re a woman and you’re doing this too!”
BH: Honestly, that’s actually happened a couple times when we’re trying to get tours with other artists. You’ll have female leads that are like, “Oh, another band with a female lead. We can’t have them on the tour.”
SH: Yeah, they won’t let us come on tour with them and I’m like, you should be empowering another female artist trying to do this. We have to do that for each other and I definitely think I’m a strong advocate for uplifting other women. That song, “Ecliptic”, was about breaking that glass ceiling and it’s definitely a huge part of me, as a person, and of our band.
LM: Your Ecliptic EP and recently released singles seem heavily influenced by 80s alt pop. Do you guys have any influences related to that genre?
BH: Yeah, we grew up listening to everything from the 70s and 80s, until now. New wave music has always been something that has inspired me with production. I know Alex, as well, with his drum sounds and samples and Brennan, as well, with how he has his samples triggered on his drum kit, same with Eian’s bass tone. We just look to what paved the way in the 80s and what started the collective idea of, “This is dance music. This is pop music. This is also alternative. How do we make it one thing?” That’s always really inspired us. With the new music on our new EP, though, everything has definitely evolved and kind of taken form to a new sound and we’re really looking forward to sharing it with everybody.
Eian McNeely: There’s a lot of maturity that’s happened since the Ecliptic EP. So, I’m really excited to show the fans the growth that’s happened and how we’ve grown together as band and how we’ve grown together as people.
BH: As friends, too. We’ve gone through ups and downs and everything. We’ve done it together. The past two years, we’ve done everything together. So, it’s fun to make music and perform things that mean something to us all, with our connections, with our experiences, and, like I mentioned earlier, with youth culture. Culture creates community and that’s really what we’re trying to represent with this new music.
LM: I know that you, Savannah and Brandon, are sister and brother and you started by making music together. So, as you mention growing together as a band and playing together for two years, do you think that changing your previous dynamic and becoming a band was relatively easy or complicated?
SH: I think when we all met there was a connection and we were like, okay we like the same things, we’re very similar, they liked the music we were making, they wanted to start getting in on it, and I think it just became more of a friendship than anything. That’s what it is, we’re all homies, we’re all really close. So, I think that that was a big part of it, especially of the EP. You have to love the music you’re making and you have to love the people that you’re making it with.
LM: As young artists definitely on the brink of something great, do you guys have any advice for other young people that want to pursue music or any other kind of art?
Brennan Benko: I can only speak from personal experience. But for me, you know, I started playing drums when I was eight years old because I watched videos of my uncle playing drums, I took lessons, and I’ve been playing music ever since. So, I would say the main element is just persistence. You know what I mean? This kind of shit takes time, nothing just happens immediately. You’re going to cycle through a bunch of different projects and a bunch of different shows and a bunch of different scenes and a bunch of different styles of music. You’re always one step behind from where you want to be. So, it’s not about getting to a certain goal, it’s about being stoked with where you’re at and doing one hundred percent, the best that you can do and being persistent. That’s the main thing for me, just keep going and whatever happens happens.
BH: Absolutely, we’ve all being doing this for a long time. I know we’re all young kids but we’ve all played in different bands, we’ve all been in different projects, we’ve all worked really hard in the music industry to try to make something of ourselves. To finally be climbing up together, collectively as a bunch of, I would say, hard-working kids, is definitely very humbling and we’re very excited to be growing our fan base and traveling to different cities and exposing our music to other people. It’s a really lovely experience.
BB: Yeah, “making it” is not an end goal it’s a process.
LM: About your writing process, do you guys work on writing songs as a group, or is it more of an individual process?
SH: I think we’re all very collaborative on the music, but Brandon and I write the music and then the boys write all their instrumental parts. It’s very collaborative, we bounce off each other’s ideas and different things we have questions about, we just work it out together.
BH: You know when you’re making a smoothie, and to get the end result of the smoothie you have to combine several different fruits to make it taste the right way? That’s literally exactly how our music works.
EM: We are the fruits of our own smoothie.
BH: Everybody brings something different to the table and everything that we do, we never really know what the end result of the sound is going to be until it’s finished and we go, “Oh my god, those are the bleeps that Alex made with a bunch of weird pedals, there turned out to be something in there,” or, “Oh, that’s a drum part that I didn’t know was in there that’s now mixed in with a bunch of samples.” It’s all a blender and we try our best with our producers to make sure that it’s always a collaborative effort and that it always seems like something unique. A lot of bands nowadays, they reuse and they recycle and they take a lot from other things and they just try to duplicate it and I think our goal has been: let’s do something different. We listen to a lot of electronic music, we listen to a lot of hip hop, R&B, rock, 80s dance, so how do we make something that’s unique and feels like something that we’ve created? It’s definitely a little blender of our favorite things and all of our sounds and it kind of turns into its own thing.
LM: Going back to your inspirations as a band in this blender, do you guys have any
modern musicians, versus the 70s and 80s, that inspire you individually?
SH: Going back to the oldies, Blondie and Stevie Nicks were my top two but I really like St. Vincent. I really like what she’s doing, especially as a female, she’s sick. We also like The 1975.
EM: There’s this band, CCFX, that just dropped some stuff and their sound is incredible and I feel like it kind of matches us.
BH: LCD Soundsystem, as well. We just went to see them in LA and it was a wonderful collaboration of electronic music, dance music, and a band doing it. That’s really something that I think inspired us. We saw the show and it was like, oh my god, it’s like a disco, you want to dance the entire time. But it’s not a DJ standing there with a board, there’s people making that music live.
BB: As far as current acts go, we saw Bleachers a little bit ago. I’m a huge of Bleachers. I love Joywave, who’s actually playing here today. I think Portugal. The Man’s new record is fucking awesome.
BH: Cage the Elephant tonight, as well.
LM: Are you guys going to stay and watch them play?
SH: Oh, hell yeah.
EM: We’re not leaving without seeing some Cage.
BH: No, absolutely not.
EM: We’re going to rage to Cage.
BH: But yeah, it’s all over the board. We listen to everything. We’re all modern music constituents, now that we have social media music, like Spotify and Apple Music.
SH: Oh, there’s a band called Niki and the Dove that I love.
BH: They’re so underrated.
SH: Their fucking album is so good and so underrated.
EM: What was that French new wave song?
EM and SH: *Start singing French song trying to remember the band*
BH: It’s a French band name.
SH: We love French music and French culture.
LM: Hence the beret?
LM: Do you guys want to close out by letting your fans know if they should be expecting something soon?
EM: EP coming next year!
SH: Yeah, we have an EP coming out very soon and when we say next year, we mean in the next couple of months. It’s something to look forward to. We’ve poured our hearts into this new music and we just hope that everyone loves it and relates to it and shares it with their friends.
By: Patricia Alvarez / @patty.alvarezzz / @patty_alvarezzz