Austin Underground

Alyssa Santos

Much like in every big city, you find and cherish the underground of different things that makes Austin so unique. If not, the hole in the wall restaurants, or the hidden trails, then for sure the up-and-coming bands that begin in Austin. Speaking of up-and-coming bands, I’d like to introduce you all to two specific bands that are becoming more popular as this year comes to a close. ‘Planet Plum’ and ‘Sleep Well.’ both two incredible bands consisting of college students who are more than a band when you get to know them. I had the lucky opportunity to chat with both bands and get familiar with who each member is and their lives within the band. Before we begin, a writer’s suggestion is to play the playlist attached below as you continue to read the interview. The playlist was created by one of the band members of Planet Plum, Reece Lord, who constructed a Spotify playlist of most of the local Austin area bands, who knows you may just find the next Surfaces while listening. 

Planet Plum, consisting of band members, Anna Ayres (drums), Andres Flores (keyboard), Reece Lord (lead guitarist), Patrick Behrens (bass), and Marco Mara (vocals and guitarist). As I sat with the group on zoom, I was able to find out how the band name came to play. “Plum was written on a piece of tape when I bought my Fender Stratocaster and then thought about creating a world with my guitar [plum] and music in general, hence Planet Plum” stated Mara. The band was formed thanks to the finding of mutuals and two out of the five being roommates. Speaking of roommates, this spirited band is getting their degree at the same time of booking gigs. Mara and Lord currently attend St. Edwards’ University studying business while Ayres is studying Audio Technology at Texas State who’s “excited to put [her] major into [their] new album on the recording aspect”. With the mention of education, the band expressed the balance of both school and the band. “Making time for our creativity is important for balancing” the band agreed collectively. 

Much like some of us, the members described their first time picking up their favorite instrument, both Mara and Ayres having a musical background and began to teach themselves how to play their instruments from YouTube, whereas Lord attend lessons and fell in love with the guitar thanks to rock legends like Nirvana and Blink-182. In talks with what sets them apart from any other band, the group mentioned “being one sound, a connection, growing that feeling and being able to relate to people our age. We want to be inviting towards our audience” Ayres states. “There is no label for us, we’re unique, we don’t compare ourselves to other bands” Lord mentioned. At this time, the aspiring band are in the works of finishing their newest EP which will be released sometime soon, so keep an eye out for the release by following their socials, @planetplumband, on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. 

Sleep Well. a band, known for their iconic song ‘Pictures of Dogs’ is a group of eight college students, who began working together in 2016. The high school friends consist of band members Andres Garcia (vocals and guitar), Sohrob Fatoorechie (Graphic Design), Adan Silva III (Photographer), Will Baker (Photography/Design), Dominic Gomez (Bass), Mark Fountain (drums), Ricky Olivares (Lead guitar), and Marco Mara (keyboard). With their heart string lyrics, the group has many songs unreleased and demos on sound cloud from when they first began, but enough about the past, let’s begin to talk about their latest EP ‘Graduation Party’, the mellow band spoke with me about the development of the EP, “At the time, as a collective we all had a story to tell and we were all on the same page about the theme behind the EP” Garcia states. “To ground ourselves in the present, much like the feeling for someone at a graduation party” which goes along with the graphic design of the EP cover created by the talented Fatoorechie and Silva. “I wanted the art to show two separate spaces being able to line up together and each song have a narrative to it” Fatoorechie said. 

Sleep Well - Pictures of Dogs Lyrics and Tracklist | Genius

I also had the opportunity to find the backstory behind the well-known song ‘Pictures of Dogs’ from their 2019 album ‘Pictures of Dogs. The vibe worthy song began taking form in the summer of 2019 as a bridge and as they were writing the lyrics, during a three-hour break in between a show, they were missing one thing, a title. Luckily, photographer Silva, who had recently come back from the U.K came up with the idea, “I was walking outside one day and began taking pictures of dogs and that collection grew and I thought of using the pictures for a zine but instead used it for the album name”. One important aspect about the album is it’s one common theme: the way one consoles with their safety net. Something in which I believe is very important, with the topic of mental health being brought up at the dinner table every day and becoming a priority for us and our well-being I find this album very relatable. With the pandemic taking away the chance of playing for an audience at this time, the band recently had the opportunity to perform on @whatthesound’s Instagram account on November 14th for an IG Live Fest, which consisted of multiple bands from all over the U.S to perform for two days. To find out more information about the band and their future performances don’t forget to follow them on social media @sleepwelldot. 

Overall, I am super ecstatic to have new music on rotation for the rest of the year and can’t wait to see the outcome of more music that both bands produce in the future. I always find it entertaining to explore and find the startup of bands and artists and be able to see them flourish as the years go by and be able to say, “I was there when they first started outed”.