2015 Artist Survey: EZTV

Michael Stasiak and Shane O'Connell on 2015's Best Albums, Indie vs. Mainstream Pop, Disastrous Dates, and Battlestar Galactica

Feb 10, 2016 Photography by Daniel Topete Web Exclusive
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For Under the Radar's 13th annual Artist Survey we emailed some of our favorite artists a few questions relating to 2015. We asked them about their favorite albums of the year and their thoughts on various notable 2015 news stories involving either the music industry or world events, as well as some quirkier personal questions.

Check out our Best of 2015 print and digital issues for answers from Arcade Fire's Will Butler, Julien Baker, Blanck Mass, CHVRCHES, Dan Deacon, The Dears, Dutch Uncles, EL VY, Everything Everything, Father John Misty, Field Music, The Flaming Lips, How to Dress Well, Sondre Lerche, Low, Luna, Mew, NZCA Lines, Cullen Omori, Natalie Prass, Small Black, Surfer Blood, Tamaryn, Telekinesis, Vampire Weekend's Chris Baio, The Walkmen, Youth Lagoon, and others.

Here are some answers from Michael Stasiak and Shane O'Connell of EZTV. The band's debut album, Calling Out, was released last summer via Captured Tracks.

Top 11 Albums of 2015

1. Dick Diver: Melbourne, Florida
2. Twerps: Range Anxiety 
3. Nap Eyes: Whine of the Mystic
4. Gun Outfit: Dream All Over
5. Weyes Blood: Cardamom Times EP
6. John Andrews & The Yawns: Bit by the Fang
7. DRINKS: Hermits on Holiday
8. Jessica Pratt: On Your Own Love Again
9. Jim O'Rourke: Simple Songs
10. Sheer Agony: Masterpiece 
11. Tie: Martin Courtney: Many Moons and The Mantles: All Odds End

What was the highlight of 2015, for either you personally or for the band? What was the low point?
 
Michael Stasiak: My highlight of 2015 was that I got married to my dream girl, Pamela. Second place was holding a copy of our debut album in our hands. As for the lows, let's not look back in anger.

What are your hopes and plans for 2016?
 
Shane O'Connell: U.S. and European touring, dog ownership, and Sanders presidency.
What are your thoughts on Friday being the new global release day for albums? Is it helping or hurting album sales?
 
Michael: It doesn't make any goddamn sense, and when you read the justification for the change you realize that people who have no contact or connection with record shops (here's looking at you, IFPI) are the idiots making the decisions. For example, it places a great deal of strain on retailers' weekendswhen albums came out on Tuesdays, you could use a couple days' worth of sales as a barometer to gauge if you needed to do a quick re-up for your weekend, all while giving your shop a little midweek cash boost. I could go onI don't think it's a disastrous change but I do think it's asinine.

Mainstream pop music is increasingly embraced by indie rock musicians and listeners, as well as serious music critics. At this point, do you draw any distinctions between Top 40 pop and indie rock/pop? Are you comfortable with this shift?
 
Michael: Indie and underground bands have always reached into the charts for inspirationI hate reading about this "trend" because indie artists have always embraced the mainstream. How can it be a trend if it's been happening forever? Sometimes it can lead to really cool evolutions, like how Scritti Politti took three years to go from "Skank Bloc Bologna" to "The Sweetest Girl." I actually think the horrible thing is watching indie press outlets emulate the mainstream ones. What's disturbing is that there are so few sites and publications that strictly reckon with the indie side of thingsit's like editors are scared to imagine what might happen if their site doesn't bang out a thousand words about Taylor's latest sneeze. I'm pretty much sick to death of reading the names "Beyoncé" and "Max Martin."
What are your thoughts on how the 2016 U.S. Presidential election is shaping up?
 
Michael: I think EZTV rocks behind Bernie.

Ryan Adams covered Taylor Swift's 1989 (and then Father John Misty covered Adams covering Swift). If you were to cover another artist's album in its entirety, which would you pick and why?
 
Shane: Cover FJM covering Adams covering Swift in the style of Swift.

Have you ever been fired from a job (be it a day job or musical one)? Why were you fired?
 
Shane: Nope. We are good boys.

What's your earliest music-related childhood memory?
 
Shane: Staying up late with my mom to watch R.E.M. perform "Shiny Happy People" on SNL. My first, and still favorite band.

What outrageous request would you most like to put in your tour rider as a joke?
 
Shane: Riders are no place for joking around. Hummus is serious. We better get our hummus. 

What's the most disastrous date you've ever been on?
 
Shane: A sneak attack date. Somebody asked me for some help with a recording project. I was like, "Sure, I'll come by your place and check out the session." On my way over she called me and said, "Let's just meet at this bar." When I got there, there was no computer and no Pro Tools sessionjust the awkward realization that I had been tricked into going on a weird/bad date.

Which Star Wars character are you most like?
 
Michael: Shane is Han Solo. Ezra is Luke Skywalker. I'm probably a mix of Princess Leia's fiery optimism and Greedo's stupidity, with a dash of Ewok pluckiness.
Shane: Not super into space wizards (that's so Han), I'm more of a Battlestar Galactica dude. I'd be Samuel T. Anders-the oldest (not quite 2000 years old though), dashing, and weirdly forgettable considering how prominent a role he played in the arc of the show. Ezra is President Laura Roslinreluctantly rising to power knowing that maintaining some semblance of civilized culture is the only way to keep on living. Michael is a no-nonsense hardass with a heart of gold, who turns out to be the most pivotal character, just like Chief Galen Tyrol.

Where do you see yourself in five beers?
 
Michael: Talking more extensively about Star Wars.
Shane: Talking more extensively about how BSG is way better. And then going into why TNG [Star Trek: The Next Generation] tops them all.

What song will most unite or amp up the tour bus or van (à la "Tiny Dancer" in Almost Famous)? Which song do you love that the rest of the band or crew refuse to let you put on?
 
Michael: I accidentally got the other guys hooked on "Chewy Chewy" by Ohio Express. I've played the song so much at home that my wife absolutely hates it, and I know that it's truly, deeply obnoxious in large doses, but it's giddy and guileless and a perfect song. We've become bolder about asking sound guys to play it and some Nerves songs before we go on, especially if the room is looking more three-quarters empty than one-quarter full.

Mass shootings continue to be a problem, and yet the U.S. government still has yet to take action on curbing gun violence. What are your thoughts on gun control?
 
Shane: Because dumdums need completely unregulated access to their weird hobby, I get freaked out anytime someone walks into my movie theater late. Can we just not?

If the world was ending in 24 hours, what would you do in those 24 hours?
 
Michael: I feel like we would still schedule band practice.

Which part of America or which specific state do you find it most challenging to tour in and why?
 
Shane: The 100 or so yards on either side of the Canadian border. What's with the 3rd degree? We're just trying to get to Montréal and eat your delicious bagels.

In 2015, what do the words "indie rock" mean?
 
Michael: Sometimes it feels like "indie rock" defines a vibrant community of cosmically attuned travelers, all picking up on a good wave of underground transmissions-like when all your friends go wild for Gun Outfit or Twerps. And sometimes it feels like a dumb hashtag, or an obnoxious lifestyle Instagram account featuring perfectly curled cats and espresso art.

FFS (Franz Ferdinand + Sparks) proved that collaborations can work. What other two bands would you like to see unite as one new entity?
 
Shane: I would love to go back in time to when Traveling Wilburys were forming and have them make that first record without any additional musicians. I feel like Bob [Dylan] banging on the drum kit and Jeff [Lynne] trying to play sax could've made an already excellent album completely amazing.

www.eztv.nyc



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