Chris Fruci and Will Timbers, two members in an alternative rock band, Compass & Cavern, from Denver, Colorado. And CelebMix had an amazing opportunity to interview the band:
- Hello! Can you please introduce yourselves to the readers of CelebMix, please?
Hey guys! We’re Compass & Cavern, a Denver-based alternative rock band comprised of Chris Fruci and Will Timbers. We formed in late 2014 after leaving Nashville where we both went to college. Since then, we’ve poured our hearts, minds, and souls into this band and are so excited for our next phase of existence.
- Compass and Cavern, who or what is your biggest inspiration in making music?
WT: As far as bands go, I generally like dynamic music with something a little unexpected, whether that’s an unusual chord choice, an odd time signature, or a surprising arrangement. That describes musicians like The Beatles, The Dear Hunter, twenty one pilots, Panic! At The Disco, and Sara Bareilles.
The “what” part of that question is really interesting to me! No one’s ever asked it that way. To me, the ideal music is right on the edge of expected and unexpected – too much prog and it’s hard for me to get into it, but too much pop and it’s predictable and boring. We strive for that balance as a band. Related to that, there’s a feeling of deep excitement and purpose that we get when we’re writing, recording, or playing music that we believe strikes that balance. That feeling inspires me to be a musician more than anything else. Nothing else in my life has made me feel quite like that!
- How would you describe each other in three words?
Chris describing Will – encouraging, inquisitive, honest
Let’s see what you got, Will.
Will describing Chris – conscientious, empathetic, dedicated
How was that, Chris?
- How does it feel being compared to amazing artists from the same genre of music you’re working on, rock, like Panic! At The Disco or Twenty One Pilots?
CF: It’s VERY cool. We both listen to and “study” a lot of music, both inside and outside of the mainstream, to see how different artists and bands express themselves and their ideas. Panic! At The Disco and twenty one pilots are both awesome bands led by incredibly talented performers and songwriters. We take it as a great compliment that our sound can sit alongside these artists while still remaining unique to us.
- How would you sum up your music?
CF: We wrote a tag line early on as a band – “Curious Music for Curious Minds”
While this is still true, I would add a few additional characteristics that have really become core to our sound.
We love writing and playing high-energy music that is consistently interesting and fun to play across all instruments. Since the beginning, guitar, synth, and drums have all played essential roles within our sound with no one instrument necessarily playing back-up to the others. This is especially true for drums which can easily fall to the background and be used as a tool to keep a song moving forward rather than enhancing it as its own powerful entity. We’ve played with incredibly talented drummers and wanted to give them the opportunity to showcase their skills and really participate in the unit.
Our music is also familiar, yet unique. We love heavy guitar tones similar to what you would find in 90s rock (see Weezer’s Blue Album) but also really like using synths to generate more modern sounds that are found in mainstream alternative today. Trying to create a balanced fusion between the two is fun and exciting, especially when we feel like we get it right.
- You’ve been on a North American tour, you still are, and will continue to do so. How do each member of C+C cope with all the stress and work and have time for yourselves?
CF: We actually finished up our touring for the summer and have had a chance to settle back in Denver for a season of writing. It is challenging balancing the pursuit of music with the other aspects of life! There is so much to do on the band front on top of creating the space to write good music.
Personally, I have had to learn how to be really intentional with my time in order to make the most out of “working” time and “personal” time without letting either feel too forced or manufactured. On top of that, we are both in relationships which creates another layer of challenge but one that is totally worth it.
WT: When we were on tour, it was actually easy to have time to myself. We’re a small band, and we respect each other’s personal space, so I always felt like I could do my own thing during drives if I needed to. But I also felt very inspired by our conversations about music or whatever else we came up with, and that definitely kept me going. Back home, my schedule is much more open than Chris’ (read: he’s more social), so I don’t usually have any issues with balancing time. My biggest issue is motivating myself to work harder!
- Compass and Cavern was formed back in 2014. You’ve gained popularity throughout the years. But what do you aim to achieve in the future? What is your main goal in music?
CF: In the near future, we’d love to support bigger, national acts on short or extended tour runs that pass through Colorado. In many ways, we believe we “earned our stripes” on tour and are ready for the pressures that come with representing big-time bands on the front of their bills.
Ultimately, we’d love to play music full-time for an impassioned fan base. I don’t think either of us are shooting for fame or fortune. If we can spread a positive and relatable message through our existence and then have time for family and friends, my dream would be realized.
- I’m currently blasting All We Have in my bedroom while coming up with these interview questions. I’ve read from your website that the song is about “realising the unavoidable significance of the present moment”, what do you mean by that?
WT: I basically had this thought (while listening to a lot of Alan Watts) that we worry about the past and the future incessantly, and I wondered what the point was. I think the answer to that is actually pretty obvious – so we can improve our life (and ideally the lives of those around us). When we think about the past, we’re trying to learn from mistakes, and when we plan for the future, we’re taking an active role in changing our situation. But you never actually relive “the past,” and you never actually arrive at “the future.” All of our thoughts and efforts are directed towards an essentially endless present moment.
So the present moment is incredibly significant, but it’s also unavoidably so. You can focus on the past or the future, but that’s just what you’re choosing to do with your present moment! Everything that’s happening to you is happening right now, and it will always be that way. That makes this moment, in a sense, all we have. Nothing else is as real, if it’s even real at all.
To me, the point of all of that philosophizing is to help remind myself that I’m learning from my mistakes and planning for change for a reason. I ultimately want a joyful, sustainable present moment. If I constantly work on improving my situation and never sit back to realize and enjoy it for what it is, then why am I working so hard to improve it? It seems like I should reap what I sow at some point. But like all things, it’s a balance, and an extremely tricky one. I don’t expect to ever stop striving for a better, more meaningful, more fulfilling life, but it helps to have the perspective that I, along with everyone else, have already come a long way. And that’s worth stopping to think about.
- What does it take to write a good and personal song like All We Have, and to come up with such good music along with the lyrics?
WT: First of all, thanks for the compliment. My songwriting process relies heavily on inspiration. I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, or if it’s how it is for everyone, but I can hardly get a song off the ground if I don’t feel a strong connection with a musical or lyrical idea. In most cases, I have a musical idea first, and I follow it up with lyrics on a topic that I’ve been recently thinking about. For All We Have, I had the idea for the keyboard part first (totally inspired by The Beatles), then I could imagine the drums and guitar that would fit it. I tried a few different things, but had the basic idea pretty quickly.
Then I had an idea for a melody. Melodies are always interesting because they often shape my word choice. I’ll fall in love with specific high notes that sound great in the context of the song, but are almost completely unsingable unless I choose words that have certain vowels and consonants. A lot of that happens unconsciously at this point, so I’ll come up with words as I’m singing random sounds along with the melody that I like. It’s strange. But it’s also helpful because it restricts the possibilities from “every word that’s ever existed” to “one of these four.” Other times, I’ll have a few lines that I really want to use, and I’ll adjust the melody around the words to make it all work together. I try to maintain a sense of coherence with my lyrics, so there are usually multiple drafts until I’m happy with how my singing feels / sounds and the ideas that I’m conveying.
- Chris and Will, what message would you like to give out to the Compass and Cavern supporters, and to the people who aspire to create music like yours?
CF: First of all, we are tremendously grateful for all of our supporters who have been with us throughout these first couple of years. We’ve got an exciting year ahead and can’t wait to share the music we’re currently writing.
WT: To those who aspire to write similar music, go do it! It’s stupidly simple, but you’ll get so much better just by trying and working at it. It’s amazing how much we’ve improved as musicians and songwriters, almost without even noticing a change, just by putting in the time. Obviously, it helps when you’re motivated and it doesn’t feel like a chore, so I’d also say to do what you think sounds cool no matter what. Creating music that you love is the easiest and fastest way to not only get better, but also to write things that reach other people (which has been incredibly rewarding for us). It’s really bizarre and counter-intuitive, but I think it actually does work that way.