I first ran across the Duskwhales when they performed at the 9:30 Club with Justin Trawick’s The 9 Songwriter Series in the Fall of 2016. I was mesmerized by their psychedelic dress, sound and charismatic presence. I reached out to interview and find out more about them. They hail from Manassas, Virginia and true to their dress are influenced by the psychedelic 1960s. The band is made up of lead singer and guitarist, Seth Flynn, drummer Chris Baker, and keyboardist Brian Majewski.
Marlene: How did you come up with your band’s name?
Chris: We were in early high school when we started the band and came up with the name. Sort of randomly we just put the words Dusk and Whales together and thought it sounded hilarious. Not too long after that, one of us was using the photocopier at school and on the little display screen there inexplicably was an image of a whale with a setting sun in the background, which none of us had seen before, so we interpreted that as a huge sign.
What has been some of the highlights of your musical career so far?
Chris: The whole recording process of our upcoming album was an amazing experience and I think our biggest musical endeavor yet. It was the first time we recorded in a real studio, Bias Studios in Springfield, VA, working with our good friend Mark Reiter at the helm. It’s a really special feeling waking up early in the morning and just working all day in the studio, you sort of forget about the outside world.
Seth: The 9:30 Club show.
Brian: Our month long tour. A show everyday for a month can change a man for better or for worse. Fortunately our experience was the former.
What do you like about performing?
Chris: It’s always nice when people dance or sing along to our songs. It makes our job much easier since we can just pick up on the energy from the audience.
Seth: It is like being in a musical, which is exciting for me since I was always too scared to try out for musicals in school.
Brian: Meeting other musicians and other people who love music.
What is next for you creatively and touring-wise?
Chris: We have a whole bunch of new material that we want to work on, and record sooner rather than later hopefully. We’ll also probably tour in spring/summer 2017 to support the new album once it surfaces.
Seth: Finishing our album soon, touring that album (West Coast).
Who are your musical inspirations?
Chris: The Beatles are our Bible.
Seth: Big Star, David Bowie, Elliott Smith, Girls.
Brian: The Doors, Blondie, sex, drugs, and money.
How would you describe your music?
Chris: We like to call it Indie Pop Gypsy Rock. Similar to the name Duskwhales, it is also meaningless. But it makes you think (maybe?).
Seth: Soul powered psychedelic pop.
What are some of the best places to see music in the DC area?
Chris: All of my favorite shows I’ve seen have been at 9:30 Club. DC9, and Black Cat also are really good. Epicure Café in Fairfax, VA hosts some great local talent and open mics.
Seth: 9:30 Club, Black Cat, Rock and Roll Hotel, and DC9.
Brian: Jammin’ Java is the best club in the DC area, and I’m not just saying that because I work there, ha,ha!
How old were you when you started playing music? How did you learn and what instruments do you play?
Chris: I first started goofing around on guitar when I was 9 or 10. I took up drums at age 12 and took lessons for several years. I also played in drum line and jazz band in high school.
Seth: I’ve been singing since I was a little kid and I started playing guitar when I was 10. I mostly just messed around hitting various notes, watching other guitarists play, and mostly just a lot of playing by ear.
Brian: 15 years old, I dabbled with bass and drums. My parents got me a keyboard that Christmas and the obsession began. It’s only gotten worse as the years have passed.
How did you get in touch with musician Justin Trawick of The Nine?
Chris: I saw our friends Wylder were on his podcast, The Circus Life. So I reached out to Justin about having The Duskwhales on the show. We did the podcast back in April, and he was kind enough to invite us to play at their anniversary show at the 9:30 Club.
What has been the best thing about playing in a band?
Chris: It was a dream come true playing at the 9:30 Club. That was a huge milestone and an incredible honor.
Seth: I get to make fantastical music with my best friends and we get to travel all over, I wouldn’t want to ever do anything else with anyone else.
Brian: Having my best friends as brothers and my brothers as best friends.
When and where are your next performances?
You can check out our website for our next performances.
What is the process of writing and recording music like?
Chris: Usually one of us has the riff or main idea and brings it to band practice. We write the music first, try to iron out the structure, make sure the changes and dynamics work and are interesting, sort of trading off ideas until we reach a consensus. Then we work on the lyrics, also collaboratively in a similar process. Along with that usually comes a lot of demoing which act as blueprints for the future recordings.
Seth: Recently we have been sitting together with two guitars and a piano and just showing each other different song ideas we have had. It is wonderful! Recording is always different seeing as before this album (the one we are mixing) we were in various home studios.
I’m a huge The Doors fan too. Have you seen the rest of The Doors perform yet? I saw them at The Birchmere several years ago. What do you like about them?
Brian: I’ve never seen The Doors perform. My dream to meet Ray Manzarek died with him, which is too bad. I love Ray’s innovative organ style mixed with Jim’s mysterious voice. Ray & Jim. It’s like Lennon & McCartney. A legendary duo that was always fated to be together.
Chris: I like that they don’t have a bass player.
What is a dream you wish to see come true musically?
Seth: I would love to open for Paul McCartney.
Chris: It would be awesome to perform on Conan O’Brien; like not on his show, just literally on him.
Brian: As long as we keep evolving as musicians I’ll be happy. As the years go by, the kinds of songs we write change in new and sometimes unexpected ways. I’m excited to see how our sound develops in the years to come.