Music Bugle Exclusive – Q & A – Council

Photo courtesy of Council Facebook page.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

New York City-based alt outfit Council – composed of brothers Doug, Pat and Andy Reeves – have come a long way since their days as farmers in Baldwinsville, N.Y., now with 17 million Spotify streams and their music heard in places like the Olympics, FIFA World Cup and “American Idol,” to name a few.

In their time together, they’ve opened for acts like The Strumbellas, The All-American Rejects and The Kooks.

The Music Bugle had the opportunity to chat with the members – who recently wrapped up recording their latest EP with Matt Squire – about what they’ve been up to and more.

Music Bugle – How did you guys decide the band name? 

Pat Reeves – We had this discussion on a band name far before we should have ever called ourselves a band. Doug wanted two syllables in the name and we all knew we wanted something that wasn’t a joke and embodied what we envisioned our music to sound like. I was looking through the Bible, as I figured that had to be a place with “power” names in there and came across Council. I looked up the Bible’s definition and yes, I knew the definition, I just wanted to see their interpretation as it related to the Bible. I loved it and of course, this band is ruled by three, not one individual, so we decided to keep the name until we found something better.

Music Bugle – What makes you the most proud about where you come from? 

Doug Reeves – I would say the work ethic that was instilled in us. I think without all those years on the farm with our uncles and dad, we would’ve missed out on an incredible life lesson. I think everyone from Upstate NY has that type of “get things done” attitude.

Andy Reeves – I guess when you’re forced to shovel 10 feet of snow every year, you can’t really just sit back and be lazy.

Pat Reeves – A general answer, but so true, is the people. I think people in Central NY are a different breed. The people we grew up with, including family, are hard-working and honest and have a genuine care for people in their community. I think that is very special.

Music Bugle – What was it like putting together your debut EP ‘Rust To Gold’? 

Pat Reeves – It was put together very hastily before we went to Los Angeles to record it. ‘Rust To Gold’ was written days before we left and we weren’t quite sure of what type of song it was going to be. We had picked out the five songs, but because they were so new, we were worried about putting them together in the studio for the EP. We knew we had a limited time to record them.

Andy Reeves – Once we started the recording process with producer Justin Gray, I think we all started getting very excited. You never really know how these songs you write in your bedroom will translate in the studio. We did have an idea of how we were going to produce the songs and that was something we learned from Justin. He was great at going over the five songs ahead and planning out the final production and direction we would take for each one.

Doug Reeves – Yeah, I look back now and just think how great it was. We spent two weeks in LA and made daily trips to Justin’s house to track vocals, or guitars or work on production. Then, at the end, we spent two days at the famed East West Studios to track group vocals, live drums, hammond organ, etc.. It was definitely surreal to be in the same studio The Beach Boys used, among so many other famous artists. It definitely had its own vibe.

Music Bugle – What do you attribute your streaming success to? 

Pat Reeves – Blood, Sweat and Tears. Hundreds of hours of us sending emails out to curators and figuring out people’s email addresses. The first time I sent Spotify’s Global Head of Rock, Allison Hagendorf, an email, she replied and said “Rust To Gold” sounded great on this playlist of hers. We were just shocked she responded and couldn’t believe we made it on a Spotify playlist. At that time, I sincerely didn’t know much about streaming in general. I sent her a followup email, asking if she would consider another song off the EP and she put that on to a playlist. Now, I would never attempt that, but back a couple of years ago, this was literally our first understanding of streaming and all we knew was you want streams. We are so grateful to Allison for that moment and from there, “Rust To Gold” was continually picked up on to new playlists and on Spotify playlists around the world. We never would have imagined we would be so lucky.

Doug Reeves – That all happened, like, four days after the release of “Rust To Gold. ” Well, the Allison part. The rest took hundreds of hours to understand the curators, the streaming game and how to build off little successes. Steve Uknuis of Apple was also paramount in helping with our streaming success. We had Syracuse in common with Steve and he really turned out to be an amazing supporter of the band.

Andy Reeves – Because these two chuckleheads didn’t actually answer the question, I think success came with persistence and putting out good music. I don’t think we would have had any success putting out demos that we had made before recording properly in LA. I think streaming success definitely feeds on itself.

Music Bugle – What’s the place you least expected to hear your music? 

Doug Reeves – The Olympics, for sure. We never even let that sink in as a possibility and only found out last minute, but I would have never believed you’d hear it there.

Pat Reeves – For me, it was “American Idol.” I think it’s such an iconic show and you only expect to hear the top artists songs used. The fact that they used it multiple times still blows my mind.

Andy Reeves – Just to be different, I would say “World Of Dance.” I just never thought dance and our music would ever be used in the same sentence, let alone a show devoted to dancing.

Music Bugle – Of the shows you’ve played, which ones stand out to you?

Andy Reeves – I think playing with the All-American Rejects in Hawaii tops my list. It was for two sold-out shows and it was really our first taste of being around a very successful band and a lot of people.

Doug Reeves – I would say playing with The Strumbellas back home. It was the first proper show we’ve done outside of our local homebase “Flo-Jo’s.” It was kind of a homecoming and we got to do it with the local radio station 95X and it was so much fun.

Pat Reeves – I’m taking this back to one of our first shows. I would say opening for a band at Flo-Jo’s, which happens to be the bar by our family farm and run by Sharon and Joe. They have always been so good to us. We actually played so terrible that night. I remember us shaking uncontrollably and Andy broke his necklace. I was playing bass and singing cover songs that I wouldn’t even attempt now. We were a flat-out mess. We debated quitting after that because our nerves were so bad, we thought we can never do this professionally. We are very anxious people, but it was the biggest blessing, because we fell flat on our face, but that provided the spark in us to get back to work and vow it won’t happen again. Of course, with us, it happened many times and everything you can imagine has happened with a Council show, but that really was the start of our journey.

Music Bugle – How have you been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Pat Reeves – Well, we had songs up for March Madness last year that were pulled due to the cancellation, so that hurt. We also had shows cancelled and really found ourselves in a very tough position, but this pandemic turned out to be amazing for us. We were able to reconnect on a personal level with all our fans – Council Family – and really get to know each other. We turned our live show into a weekly stream that involves as much talking as it does playing the songs. It’s so amazing to have that connection with everyone on a weekly basis.

Andy Reeves – The streaming shows really forced us to play the songs in a different way, which was challenging, but has really pushed us out of our comfort zone. We also have been able to focus on writing and not only have a new EP titled “It Runs In The Blood” that we are in the process of releasing song-by-song, but we have many more we are starting to record.

Doug Reeves – You learn a lot about yourself when everything you planned and expected gets wiped out in an instant and all your income streams dry up. It’s been a time of growth and honestly, without our fans, I think we could have easily gone the other way and taken steps back. Their support always means the world to us and this pandemic has increased our fanbase – The Council Family – but really let us get to know everyone on a more personal note. That’s important for them to know who we are on a more personal level and us know them.

Music Bugle – What’s a quote that motivates you to keep doing what you do? 

Pat Reeves – “You’ll never make it in this industry.” I think for all three of us, we cherish the opportunity to prove people wrong. We weren’t natural musicians. We started very late and have no family industry connections, but outworking everyone else and proving to everyone who doubted us that we belong with all the other big names in music will be quite satisfying.

Music Bugle – Where do you go when you need an escape? 

Doug Reeves – Definitely back home in Baldwinsville, NY. We love to spend time with family and back home allows us the opportunity to clear our mind and be in nature. We get to go to a place with no stress and just recharge. 

Andy Reeves – I think it also helps find yourself again. You lose pieces of yourself being away from home. We were shaped there and sometimes, it’s good to go home and you find yourself wondering why you act certain ways of dealing with certain things when you would never do it when you lived at home. It’s refreshing.

Music Bugle – Who are you listening to right now, music-wise? 

Pat Reeves – Well, we are just checking out Imagine Dragons’ new songs. I loved The Killers album and to be honest, I love going on playlists and listening to random songs I’d never actually pick. I love to hear the production of the songs.

Doug Reeves – I’m the same. We’ve made it a point to just let a playlist play to hear what other artists are doing. There is so much great music out and if we picked ourselves, we would be picking music that we’ve heard a million times. 

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