Sound Source: The Altars discuss their inspiration, rehearsal dynamics, and music

Daniella Tello-Garzon, Reporter

*Sessions Protest by The Altars plays*

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: From The Daily Northwestern, I’m Daniella Tello-Garzon, and you’re listening to Sound Source. This episode is about The Altars, a group that describes itself as a “garage rock band from the Chicago area.”

DANIEL SARDIÑAS: My name is Daniel Sardiñas, I play rhythm guitar and I sing in the band.

XAVIER VILAR-BRASSER: My name is Xavier. I play lead guitar, and I sing a little bit.

LUCIAN RIZEA: I’m Lucian Rizea, I drum, and I don’t sing, thank God.

RIINA DOUGHERTY: I’m Riina Dougherty. I used to play bass, but I guess I do graphics stuff now.

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: What inspired you to start The Altars?

XAVIER VILAR-BRASSER: For me, I felt like there wasn’t a lot of the DIY music scene at Northwestern going on in the way that I was really inspired by. So, I think I was really influenced by the idea of just kind of doing something based on my passion, not necessarily my classical training or anything.

DANIEL SARDIÑAS: We thought it’d be cool to try to get some friends together and try to make the kind of music that we wish we could hear at this school because it’s a lot of, it’s not that it’s bad music, it’s just a lot of jazzy type of stuff.

Are your lyrics based on real experiences in your lives?

XAIVER VILAR-BRASSER: Our music is very emotional in certain ways, and I think we try to find something that we can all connect to in that emotion. So, for instance, our main song is called Sessions Protest, and it was actually inspired by some of the confusion and mess surrounding the whole thing with The Daily’s coverage, actually. So, I think that our goal is to try to take things that matter to us —- or matter to the situation we’re in — and let our emotions and the emotionality of our music feed those lyrics.

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: What are your rehearsals generally like?

XAVIER VILAR-BRASSER: It’s a really cool mix of improvising and trying to work off each other, but then when we get serious, we do have the ability to really focus and hone in on things we’re trying to do, at least.

DANIEL SARDIÑAS: Yeah, I think at one point we just kind of step back and we’re like, we’re not going to make perfect music, so we should just try to make the best music that we can within our skill level and our means that just is, at least, honest about how we feel.

XAVIER VILAR-BRASSER: A lot of what we do is almost like a litmus test for what we’re working through as a band, and a lot of our rehearsals are very influenced by whatever emotions we’re feeling at the time. And I think we tend to come into the space with a lot of different energies. One thing that I’ve noticed, whether it’s good or bad, we tend to leave pretty in unison with our emotions, which I think is something that speaks to the unity of our vision beyond necessarily our ability to present it.

Your first song, Rex, seems to have a different vibe than your latest album. Is there a specific reason or motivation behind that?

DANIEL SARDIÑAS: Yeah, I can definitely speak to that. I feel like when we were doing Rex, and I liked that song, I think it’s good, we were just trying to basically make something that we felt proud of. And so, I do like that song, but I think with the newer stuff we’ve been doing, it’s not trying to be beautiful in the ways that you would expect, with jazz chords and trying to make it all sublime and stuff. I think we’re just trying to find things that are beautiful, but they’re beautiful because they’re just so ugly.

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: How can fans gain access to your music?

XAVIER VILAR-BRASSER: So, we’re on Facebook, The Altars. We’re on Instagram, it’s @thealtars_. And then we’re also on Spotify. We’re on band camp. We’re on Apple Music. We’re on all the major streaming platforms.

DANIELLA TELLO-GARZON: Thanks for listening. This is Daniella Tello-Garzon, and I’ll see you next time.

This episode was reported and produced by me, Daniella Tello-Garzon, and edited by Kalen Luciano and Heena Srivastava. The editor in chief of The Daily Northwestern is Troy Closson.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @daniellatgarzon