The Black Sheep Interviews: Outer Minds
- Article by Jessica Sommers
- June 19, 2012
Chicago band Outer Minds brings together a group of 30-somethings from every spectrum of the musical realm, from classically trained pianists to punk rock guitarists. Their version of rock and roll comes in the form of dreamy pop music, a refreshing sound of depth and spirit. We talked to lead vocalist and guitarist Zach Medearis about hitting up the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, and naturally the conversation turned to pizza and whiskey.
The Black Sheep: How did you get started playing music?
Zach: I started playing music when I was four years old, both classical guitar and classic piano. Our organist Mary McKane grew up playing classical piano, too. All of us in Outer Minds got started playing in punk bands in our teenage years. I have a master’s degree in classical composition, so I still take reference from a lot of classical music. You get to your teenage years and you want to do something fun, when you’re 13 you’re like “Classical music is nerdy as fuck.” It’s all about social graces and you don’t want to be known as the classical nerdy kid.
TBS: How did Outer Minds get started?
Zach: A-ron, our bass player, and I got started playing six or seven years ago. We were just playing some garage music, a little bit of country, and as we started progressing in songwriting we met up with other people who were friends with Mary McKane, our organist. Brian, our drummer, played in a bunch of punk bands back in the day, and then we wanted a third singer so we asked our friend Gina who played in a soul band, she sings back-up and does tambourine. This all came to together about two years ago, and we’ve been playing together ever since.
TBS: How would you describe your music to someone who’s never heard it?
Zach: We’ve been described as psychedelic pop, some people call it garage pop.
TBS: You guys are playing Pitchfork this year. How did that all happen?
Zach: Mike Reed is the guy who started the festival, and he had heard about us from a friend of ours who told him to come check us out. I guess he liked it enough to ask us to play.
TBS: What are you most looking forward to about the festival?
Zach: I think it’s super cool to be able to play to a very wide group of people that would never really see us. In Chicago it’s really hard to reach out to people who are not of bar age. This is an opportunity to play for teenage kids who are actually excited about music instead of people who go to bars who are excited about music, but just not in the same way. You’ll play a show and people will like it, but teenagers and people in their early-20s have an excitement that kind of gets drained out of you as you get older.
TBS: If you weren’t playing music for a living, what do you think you’d be doing?
Zach: I’ve always wanted to get my law degree and go into politics, especially local politics. People who need a voice the most don’t have one, and it would be cool to be able to help people like that.
TBS: What’s on your ideal pizza?
Zach: I’m a super simpleton when it comes to pizza. I like a good New York slice. You give me sausage and cheese and I’m cool with that. But if I’m really diving out there, I’ll probably get bacon with green and black olives. Salt, man, it makes everything taste good.
TBS: At the end of a show, what’s your drink of choice?
Zach: I just drink whiskey, so I’d go with Wild Turkey. Just whiskey straight - if you work at a bar long enough you realize that you can just cut out the bullshit