Click here to download Howl, Empires' latest album, in your choice of 320k mp3, FLAC, or just about any other format you could possibly desire
Empires is Tom Conrad, Ryan Luciani, Alfred Smith, Max Steger, and Sean Van Vleet.
Empires is a new band of old friends. “It’s always felt like things just fall in place for us,” says Conrad. “I think it’s a testament to how we approach things and the fact that we were friends long before we were bandmates. We all have different perspectives musically, but there’s a collective mindset that makes it all work.” As evidence of the collective mindset, both Conrad and Van Vleet simultaneously conceived the band name on the same day without one other' knowledge. And with a recording and release process matter-of-factly tackled on their own, Empires’ collective kismet and cool confidence translates into a sound that’s bigger than their time together as a band might suggest. With having Max Steger at the helm of tracking and engineering recording sessions, anything is possible.
Free from creative restraints, to explore any sound they wanted, and build an identity that was true to their vision, the band spent nearly a year crafting their debut record Howl, which was officially released for free online in May 2008 via their website (weareempires.com). Howl was entirely written, engineered, artwork design and released by Empires. By the end of the year, Howl had earned over 55,000 downloads and landed on a few Chicago critics' top local albums of 2008. The process left them feeling liberated, more focus spent with fans earned than the dollars they could have made had they sold the album traditionally. We’ve got fans from all over the globe now," says Steger, "the UK, Chile, Kenya, Dubai. It feels like a great way to start a relationship with the listener.”
Empires focus on the product has proven to be a fine gamble. Abrasive, collected, layered, frenetic and measured, Howl was followed quickly by a slew of sold-out Chicago shows and opening spots for the likes of the Ting Tings, Grand Duchy (Frank Black / Pixies), Deerhunter, Steel Train, Gavin Rossdale, and Crystal Castles.
Building off of the energy and cohesion gained from the Howl sessions, they’re back in the studio, working on the follow-up. We’ve really learned how to work as a band,” says Van Vleet. When you strip away all the worries about what comes next, all the crap that just gets in the way, you end up really finding your sound.”
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