Tribe Society rocks with a conscience


Courtesy Island Records

Tribe Society’s debut mixtape, Delirium Sonata, featured 30 minutes of continuous instrumentals reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of The Moon.

By Arts & Culture Reporter

Alt-rock band Tribe Society’s members have known each other for nearly a decade, but they released their debut mixtape, Delirium Sonata, exclusively on Spotify only this year. The band is currently touring its new EP Lucid Dreams and is set to perform Nov. 19 at the Subterranean, 2011 W. North Ave. Tribe Society’s lineup includes lead vocalist Gavin Merlot, bass and guitarist Rory Given, keyboardist Bradford Alderman, drummer Phil Boucher and keyboard and flutist Seth Hachen. 

The band’s idiosyncratic sound is drawn from diverse influences including psychedelic rock, ‘80s anthems and hip-hop. Tribe Society’s music aims to be thought-provoking without losing the energetic fun of rock ‘n’ roll in the process.

The Chronicle spoke with Merlot about Tribe Society’s long-gestating development, artistic influences and upcoming performance in Chicago.

THE CHRONICLE: How and when did the band form?

GAVIN MERLOT: [Given] and [I] met when we were teens, and we played a lot of punk-rock music in the basement. When [he] and I went to college, we met the rest of the guys in the group. We all moved to New York together to form this group, to get serious and try to make something special. We’ve known each for a long time, but the band is only about a year old.

Where did the band’s name come from?

Originally, we wanted to call ourselves Tribes because a band essentially is a tribe, and society is a collection of micro-tribes. It seemed like something that could be perceived a lot of different ways, but the name Tribes was taken, so Tribe Society seemed like the next best thing.

How would you describe the band’s musical style?

We’re definitely a genre-bending band. Everyone in the band is a producer, so we incorporate a lot of production. We borrow the production from electronic, hip-hop and psychedelic, and we try to keep the band [organic] by having live instrumentation on top of that production.

Who are some of the band’s influences?

We’ve been really influenced by live comedians and stand-up comics in New York City. Rock bands in today’s world have stopped talking about current issues, but comedians have never failed to report and put their own artistic spin on what we’re going through and where we need to be.

What is the message of your music and what do you hope it achieves?

One of the biggest issues we’ve noticed is the way technology has brought us together in certain ways but has also made us more separate. It’s created a lot of noise; It’s definitely a noise culture. We’re distracted by our own vanity. A phone could be a device that could connect us or put infinite knowledge at our fingertips, but instead we use them to seek acceptance through social networks or take selfies. In today’s age, how do you cut through that and connect with other humans in a positive way?

What advice do you have to offer to aspiring musicians?

Be bold and don’t filter yourselves. Don’t ever think that if you lie about a part of yourself, you’ll be more accessible. The things you decide to filter out might be the most important  or interesting parts of your character. Don’t be afraid to express what you really feel is necessary.