Erik Gordon – Vocals
Shawn Brogan – Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Alex Brophy – Lead/Rhythm Guitar
Angel Figueroa – Bass & Keys
Theo Schirmuhly – Drums
Where are you from originally? If not from Buffalo, why are you here?
Animal Sounds started as an instrumental band by Shawn and Dan Slaughter while attending Nazareth College in Rochester, their home town. They had always admired each other’s guitar playing and were into similar artists/bands (Minus The Bear, Tame Impala, Flaming Lips). Animal Sounds was started to draw from these similar musical interests and bring something a little different to the table, locally at least.
We’ve gone through many lineup changes over the years, but since we’ve transitioned from an instrumental band to our current five-piece, we’ve really started to break into the Buffalo scene. Erik is currently living in Buffalo, everyone else is scattered around Rochester. We’re here because Buffalo is the realness.
Theo: I’ll add that I’m originally from Rochester, but attended UB from 2006-2012 and spent some time post grad in Buffalo. It’s second home for me.
When and why did you start playing?
Erik: I started out goofing around on bass with a group of kids from high school for a couple years, almost avoiding musical knowledge. I guess I was just in the pursuit of making anything I could, solely based on how I heard it. When I started to think of myself as a musician, I was learning things here and there from a multitude of super talented friends at Fredonia. By then, I just wanted to be able to play out. After playing bass, learning a little bit on acoustic, and starting to write lyrics, it was while I took a creative writing class that really gave me the confidence and tools to write some decent song lyrics. At Fredonia the music scene is infectious, and before I knew it, I started playing open mics once a week. I must’ve played the same open mic 15 Thursdays in a row haha. Open mics were my foundation, and I owe everything to the folks I shared the stage with during those days. Long story short, once I started writing and singing my own lyrics, I couldn’t stop.
Theo: I’ve been drawn to music since infancy, and I’m utterly convinced I’m here on planet earth because of music. My earliest memory was being strapped into my car seat in the dead of winter and the song “Sunday, Bloody Sunday” coming on the radio and just being utterly transfixed by it. I was probably about six months old or so. As long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to percussion and playing rhythms has always come naturally, but the first instrument I actively sought and studied was the trumpet. I formally started playing drum set and percussion around 14, and when I got to UB had the great privilege to strike up a relationship and study privately with the great Tony Miranda, and have blossomed as a player since that time. I know my way around a piano and can sing as well, but my first love is percussion.
Shawn: 13 years old, because Jimmy Page.
How did the current lineup come about?
Alex, Angel, Dan, and Shawn all went to Nazareth College together. When Dan decided to head to LA after graduating, Alex moved from bass to guitar and we recruited Angel to take over bass. Theo we knew from other bands and got in touch with us through a Craigslist ad. Erik was on the outs with a Buffalo/Fredonia band called Annasun that we had played a show with one night at Flour City Station. After seeing his performance, Shawn got his number through a mutual friend the day after the show and gave him a call. Rest is history.
What was the first tune that you remember “really” playing well, when you knew that you would be a musician
Shawn: Oh god, I taught myself guitar like most people do, with tabs and Blink-182 songs. But the first somewhat challenging song I remember being proud of was “Over The Hills” by Led Zeppelin.
Erik: I used to use YouTube videos and my talented friends advice in order to learn. The first song I learned by ear was “Wish You Were Here” by Pink Floyd.
Theo: I’m not even sure, it’s been a while. Travis Barker was an early influence and those 32nd-note fill ins were an early source of pride, but it was probably working through a Dream Theater song like “The Glass Prison” the convinced me I could hack it as a musician for real.
^Both songs will be featured on upcoming LP
How would you describe your music style? Influences?
Shawn: Funky, Fuzzy, Harmony Heavy, Romance Rock. Yeah that sounds good.
Erik: Dynamic, layered. I try to draw influences from all music, but I usually find myself obsessing over either unique vocal styles or technical arrangements.
Theo: Eclectic. Nothing is off limits, stylistically. I’m inspired by life, and things I experience and things I feel are as influential as music I listen to.
Shawn: My mom played in a couple cover bands growing up and there was always an acoustic guitar laying around. As a wee lad the more I started exploring different genres the more I kept picking up the acoustic and trying to learn new riffs and chord progressions. I think what made me want to start my first actual “band” was watching Led Zeppelin’s 1970 concert at the Royal Albert Hall.
Erik: Music was always there for me. I have a couple family members who played instruments and sang for a hobby, but nothing super serious. I was driven to learn because of the music I was always hearing around the house. My dad loves all of the classic rock bands from the 60’s and 70’s, so I was always listening to those standard albums by Pink Floyd, Queen, Led Zeppelin, Supertramp, etc. during my childhood. My mom loved to listen to Toronto’s 91.1 jazz station, so I always had that technical/advanced style kinda fusing itself with the full-speed ahead, fun, rock music.
Theo: I come from an extremely musical family. My dad was one of the most naturally gifted musicians I ever knew. He could hear a song once and play it back perfectly on guitar, and he had an excellent singing voice. My older sister was a statewide talent on jazz trumpet, and my older brother and younger sister both played multiple instruments. My mom is also a good singer (my parents met in high school while performing in their school choir), so yeah, music has always been important. Music does come naturally to me, but I absolutely do put in the countless hours of practice, and I love every second.
Are you schooled in music? From where?
Shawn: I went to Nazareth College for Music Business, which is mostly a business degree. But I value the music theory I learned from my time there and it has drastically helped improve my song writing. Other than that I usually try to learn things by ear.
Erik: Even though I went to Fredonia, I never actually took a music class. I haven’t taken a music class since middle school! I get my educatin’ from da streetz.
Theo: I studied trumpet for years at an arts middle/high school in Rochester, and that gave me a solid foundation in tonal theory. I began auto-didactic studies on drum set and hand/auxiliary percussion at 14, and then had some tutelage from a dear friend and mentor until I left for college. When I got to college, I was extremely fortunate enough to study privately with one of the industry’s top first call studio and touring drummer/percussionists in Tony Miranda. It’s a privilege I still enjoy to this day.
Which famous musician(s) do you admire?
Shawn: Ruban Neilson, George van den Broek, Kevin Parker, Jimmy Page.
Erik: Freddie Mercury, Robert Plant, Matt Schultz, Oli Sykes, Sameer Gadhia
Theo: Too many to boil down, so I won’t try. I’ll gladly agree with Erik’s and Shawn’s choices though.
Where is your favorite place to play/sing in Buffalo? Where would you most like to play/sing in Buffalo?
Erik: When open mics were my main thing, I went to Clarence Center Cafe and Penny Lane Cafe each once a week. Some of the most comforting supportive places out there, I highly recommend them. Penny Lane Cafe actually enlarged their entire place just for stage and crowd room for shows, so check em out! I have played a lot of the venues in Buffalo over the years, but there are some I still haven’t infiltrated. I would love to play Town Ballroom some day.
Theo: Town Ballroom all day, errrday. I haven’t played Iron Works, so that’d be cool.
What’s your day job?
Theo: I’m a full-time musician, for real for real.
What was the last live music performance that you caught? What was the best show you ever caught? What was the show that got away – the one that you never got to see?
Shawn: Last – Kurt Johnson at Three Heads Brewing last week.
Best – Sigur Ros at MSG or Unknown Mortal Orchestra in Philly this year.
One that got away – King Gizzard And The Lizard Wizard at Bug Jar… God that would’ve been a riot.
Erik: Last – PA Line Album release at Iron Works.
Best – Get The Led Out (Zeppelin cover band) is absolutely amazing.
One that got away – Young the Giant played downtown for free and all of my friends were front row.. the fomo was for real.
Theo: Last – A local Rochester act, Periodic Table of Elephants.
Best – Dream Theater at Massey Hall in Toronto and Animals as Leaders at the Town Ballroom immediately come to mind, and I’ll always hold Blink-182’s first visit to Darien Lake near and dear.
One That Got Away – Only One? Unfortunately there are many more than one. Most recent miss was TesseracT with Plini. *sad face*
We focus on writing and playing original music, but we’ve had a lot of fun lately with some Alabama Shakes, Cage the Elephant, Tame Impala, and Childish Gambino covers. I think when you’re playing to a crowd of people who don’t know you or aren’t at the bar or venue to see you, covers do a good job at sparking an interest. “Hey I know this song, lets go check these guys out” kind of thing.
Do you have a label? A recording studio? Have you recorded a CD?
No label, no studio, but the CD is closer and closer by the day. For the patient folks out there, we do have a single out titled ‘Ghosts’ on Spotify! As far as our CD goes, we just finished tracking, and we’re in the mixing/mastering stage of the game right now. It was all recorded at Turkey Burger Studios in Rochester by our good friend Lincoln Ali. Keep an eye out and mark your calendars, it will be coming out in late Summer / early Fall!
Where and when is your next gig(s) in the city?
Couple Buffalo shows, couple Rochester shows…
June 1st – Mr. Goodbar, Buffalo
June 16th – Butapub, Rochester
June 29th – Flour City Station, Rochester
July 14th – Thin Man Brewery, Buffalo
August 4th – Three Heads Brewing, Rochester
August 24th – Groove-B-Que, Rochester
Come see us this summer? 🙂