Image courtesy of Capitol File Magazine
Originally from the DMV area, but based in New York, Andy Suzuki & The Method have been touring around the east coast for years now, slowly building up their fan base. I had the pleasure of talking to Andy before their show on Thursday at Ebenezers Coffeehouse, where we sat immersed in the seasonal ambiance of the venue’s twinkling Christmas lights.
When you guys first started at Brown, what were your thoughts or dreams for the future of the band?
Andy: I think, like all bands, the dreams were pretty huge right? Everyone’s like ‘yooo we’re gonna take over the world!’ That’s what everyone thinks. We knew we wanted to be able to play music full-time and have our music touch as many people as possible. You know what I’m saying? So that was the main goal. And we’ve just been working at that goal for a long time. We still haven’t taken over the world yet but that’s okay. It’s a process.
Andy: We’ve been working on it. It’s a long process. But it’s been great. And we’re seeing a lot of tangible growth and results recently so we’re super excited for the future.
How does your newest album, Born Out of Mischief, differ from 300 Pianos and The Ghost Stories EP?
Andy: Great question. It’s better, by far. I feel like with that album, it’s the first album where we found our sound. However cheesy that sounds. Through Born Out of Mischief, through the writing and recording, and afterwards, the performing of that album on the road, we found a sound. Whereas before, I’m a big believer in learning by doing. That’s what I’ve been doing for years and years and years. And I’m super proud of those other albums, they’ve helped me get to where I am today. And I think there are some strong songs in those albums, but Born Out of Mischief, I would say, is the one I’m most proud of for sure and helped us get to where we have a sound. Before I think I was just kinda making music. And now it’s like, oh we have a sound. So that’s what Born Out of Mischief brings. How it’s different. It’s us. It’s our sound. We found it.
That was released a year and a half ago. Have you guys been working on anything new?
Andy: Yeah, you’re going to hear some new songs tonight, for sure. A song I wrote, actually I won’t spoil the surprise*. But yeah, that’s what we’re doing now. We’re writing a lot of new stuff, and working on that to release some new stuff. Some stuff I’m super excited about. We’re only probably going to play two new ones.
In a previous interview, you called yourself the love child of Amos Lee and Sara Bareilles. A lot of people compare you to John Legend and Jason Mraz. Are those people you get your inspiration from or where else?
Andy: I get my inspiration from Amos Lee. I get my inspiration from a variety of sources. This singer/songwriter named Patty Griffin, I’m definitely inspired by. I’m inspired by Ben Howard’s album, Every Kingdom. That was huge inspiration. On the other end of the spectrum, those are people who I kind of sound like. I’m inspired tons by rap and hip hop, which I grew up listening to. Drake is one of my favorite artists of all time. I love Drake. I would die for Drake. [leans into mic] I would die for Drake. I’m inspired by that, and I love country music. I love country pop music so I’m inspired by Jason Aldean and shit, all the people.
When I first listened to your album, honestly the first thing I thought of was that it sounded country-esque.
Andy: Yeah it is a little bit. The joke in the band is that I’m slowly but surely turning this thing into a country thing. With the bolo tie and the things. I mean I’m from this area, so it’s definitely not the south. Although some people might call Maryland somewhat in the south, but it’s not obviously. But yeah, that’s just what speaks to me, that blues-y stuff. That blues-y, folk-y stuff. I’m into all that stuff. So my inspiration is from a lot of places.
Back in March, you guys toured through California for the first time. How was that different than your usual east coast shows?
Andy: That was just exciting because of so many unknowns. The east coast, we’ve been playing for a while. I more or less know 95, I’ve driven up and down that tons of times. But it was cool to be in a different area, different climate, and see a different set of fans. See fans who we’ve had out there for years, who had been like ‘when are you gonna play in San Francisco?’ and finally we come and meet them face to face.
That must have been an awesome feeling.
Andy: Right! For sure, that was great for both of us. And also to see friends too, over there. That was cool to play for them. And they hadn’t seen us in years, and to have them see the progress. And the freaking weather, I mean come on! What are we doing over here? So that kinda thing. It was cool. It was exciting.
So when the audience listens to your music, how do you want them to feel afterwards? What do you aim for?
Andy: The aim is just for them to feel. You know what I’m saying? Every artist brings something different to the table. Some people just have incredible R&B singing chops, for example Usher Raymond. He can just sing, licks and riffs and do crazy stuff. I can’t do that. I used to think I could, but I finally learned I couldn’t. But I feel like what I can do is I can…the goal of my show, is to have the audience feel as present as possible and forget everything except exactly what’s happening at that moment, and just feel. And some of the songs are sad, some of the songs are upbeat and happy, my goal is just to feel and forget everything. And for me to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable and everyone feels inspired. Then we can feed off each other. It’s about creating a special night. That’s my goal, to create a special night.
So what are your plans for after the Rock Boat festival in Miami?
Andy: Man, wow. Let me tell you, the fact that you did so much research means a lot. The plan after that is to do another tour, coming back to DC for sure, without a doubt. People do the Rock Boat from all over the country, and the world, but usually the US. After the Rock Boat, they become huge fans ideally, and anytime we’re in their city, they’ll come. So I want to cement that and do another east coast tour after that. So I’ll be hitting my usual suspects, Boston, DC, Philly, New York, where I’m based. At least, at the very least. We have a new agent, which I’m very excited about, my manager’s killin it, and we’re just working on that next step. It’s definitely a new chapter, a new phase, with everything. I’m excited, a lot of hard work ahead, but super excited.
When they walked onto the stage, everyone silenced their side conversations, putting their full attention on the band in front of them. After a couple minutes of the band members shuffling and quietly talking to each other, the crowd started to murmur in the background again. Even when the drummer and guitarist starting making a little noise, the audience was unfazed, thinking they were just tuning their instruments. Only when Andy Suzuki began to sing did everyone cease to talk and all gaze up in awe. I full-heartedly believe that in that moment, everyone realized they were about to have an unforgettable night. His smooth voice fell onto the audience in a blanket of comfort and beauty. Playing their single first, “Keep Me Runnin”, immediately got the audience hyped up.
Between almost every song Andy gave a little background history about the band and sometimes gave the audience an insight as to how or why he wrote the next song. One song in particular stood out, called “Forgiven” (*I’m assuming this was the surprise he mentioned in the interview). He gave a tear-inducing preface to the song, explaining how much it meant to him and his family, specifically his mother. I can honestly say I have never cried at a show before that night. But now I proudly state that Andy Suzuki & The Method made me feel. A lot. Mission accomplished.
Their recorded albums are good but do not do them justice. Seeing them live felt like a privilege that just fell into my lap. Their onstage presence exuded an intense passion for their music that the audience just second-handedly absorbed. Sometimes it even looked like they forgot there was an audience. In the interview, Andy Suzuki said they finally found their sound. Part of me disagreed with that statement after the show. Their songs varied tremendously, ranging from what sounded like indie rock to almost full country. But that’s what makes them great. They have so many sounds, and they pull it off flawlessly. I highly recommend going to see them next time they’re in DC.