Words by Jonathan Stout
After a couple years of building anticipation amid the Chicago DIY community, Floatie finally released their debut, Voyage Out, in March via Exploding In Sound Records. Titled appropriately, the album indeed takes the listener on a journey, sometimes traveling many places within the span of one song. Running math and prog rock tendencies through a post-punk filter, their approach provides listeners with constantly evolving stimuli. The songs may change rhythm at the drop of a hat, but alternate smoothly, rarely jarring the listener. Admittedly, at times there’s a lot going on, but this only means new discoveries for the listener upon returned visits.
Beginning as a trio, with Sam Bern (guitar, vocals), Joe Olson (bass vi, vocals), Luc Schutz (drums), the band became solidified and ready to record Voyage Out after the addition of Will Wisniewski (guitar, synth, vocals).
Off Shelf: Floatie was a band for quite awhile before you hit the studio and released any recordings. One could assume that this was largely due to taking time to perfect your intricate compositions, but was there any other reason you waited to release recordings?
Luc Schutz: We did spend a lot of time reworking the songs, but we were also a three piece for a long time and it was clear there was something missing. Once Will joined the band, everything came together quite fast. The record was also done for about a year before it came out but we sat on it for a while with the pandemic and the uprising going on.
OS: This last year has been a difficult time for artists to promote their work, for multiple reasons. Was there a consideration to wait to release your album until society reached a closer assemblage of normalcy or were there other reasons?
LS: We all like our music, but we know it isn’t the most important thing happening in the world. The record was on the back burner for a while so we could focus our energy on things that felt more urgent. We eventually decided to release it knowing that things still aren’t normal and probably won’t ever be the same, but at the same time remembering that music can be a powerful and useful tool for people.
OS: Your compositions feature unique arrangements by every instrument involved. Could you discuss your songwriting process? Are all compositions created together or does one member typically provide the source material?
LS: Sam provided most of the riffs on the record in one form or another. Sometimes one riff at a time, sometimes with ideas of how to string multiple riffs together, and occasionally with some direction for the rest of us smooth brained creatures to follow. But generally we just loop little sections over and over until we all come up with individual parts we like. We then try and see if we can fit two parts together and if we can, great. If it sounds stinky, it’s back to the drawing board. Will joined the band after a lot of the songs were already written, so we are excited to start writing the fresh batch with Dr. Technology.
OS: You’ve commented previously that “To discover a riff that we all enjoy playing is a blessing..” One might assume from this that you all have very different influences. Are there any sources of inspiration that all members draw upon/agree upon?
LS: It happens, but It’s probably more rare that only one of us really digs something that everyone else doesn’t vibe with. We love a lot of the same music and are always sharing new things we find with each other. I think maybe the quote was referring to how lucky we all are to have each other and play music with each other and get to connect in this special way? Or Will was just being silly. Classic Will.
OS: What aspects of “Voyage Out” are you most proud of? Do you have a favorite song on the album?
LS: I love the album as a whole, and am proud to be releasing it through Exploding in Sound. My favorite song is “Voyage Out.”
Sam Bern: For Joe and I it’s “In the Night.”
OS: Although the vocal presentation for the band sometimes takes a gentle backseat to the busy attack of the instrumental arrangements, you choose to approach the songs with many personal and academic subjects nonetheless. Are the lyrics just as important to you as the rest of the music, or do you wish for one aspect to have a greater influence than the other?
SB: I always write the guitar parts first. Sometimes I have an idea of what the song is about and that could steer it into a different direction, but mostly riffs first. I like to think that the riffs tell a story, but without words how could you really know what’s going on?
OS: Among other things, the pandemic has proven how fragile the music industry is. From full time gigging artists losing most of their income to the sometimes permanent closures of multiple concert venues. Once the US is able to move forward from the pandemic, what changes would you like to see within the industry?
LS: We’d like to see less industry, more community.
OS: What do you think the Chicago DIY music scene will look like once shows safely return?
LS: Everyone will still be doing the same ol’ Chicago Nod at every show.
OS: Now that your album has been released, what are your plans for the rest of the year?
LS: Writing, playing shows, hopefully touring as much as possible. And hugging our friends.