Groovey TV

SIR Interview: Denver’s Sexy Alternative Rock-Poppers

SIR have morphed their favorite aspects of multiple genres to create the music they want to hear, and you will too.  Coined as ‘sexy alternative rock-pop’, singer/guitarist Sarah Angela, bassist/synths Kim O’Hara, and drummer/percussionist Luke Mehrens recently released their single, ‘So Cold‘, and are on the verge of releasing a full album this fall.  We caught up with the band to discuss their sound, their album, and their encounter with Shania Twain.

Groovey.TV: Tell us a little bit about yourselves. How did you all meet and how did the band get started?
Sarah Angela: I was introduced to Kim years ago; harassed her for years before she finally committed to me as a band mate. When Luke said he would be in the band, she finally committed. Luke used to be in a band that I was in love with that had to end, for whatever reason. He showed up to a show and asked if I needed a drummer. I thought ‘fuck yeah!’ Then Kim committed and it’s been magic ever sense.

GTV: SIR categorizes their music as ‘sexy alternative rock’. Can you describe what this means?
Luke Mehrens: It’s so hard nowadays to say what genre you are. Nobody can really explain it; it’s so mixed now. I think those styles are where our music comes from; in our heads, in our experiences, and the feeling that you get. It’s just our fun way to explain it, but it’s also accurate.
SA: We’ve been compared to other bands and tried to match ourselves to other bands that we would go on tour with. Those genres morph into our sound. Hopefully you get to hear it live.

GTV: You guys have a big sound for being a 3-piece band. What equipment do you use to accomplish this?
Kim O’Hara: All kinds of stuff. When we were in the studio we recorded a lot of parts that Luke triggers from a drum pad. So certain things that we can’t play live, he’ll trigger. We kind of switch back and forth between a lot of instrumentation. Sometimes Sarah will just be singing and she’ll hope on for one synth part and then hop off. Maybe I’m playing guitar and I’ll hop off to synth for one song and then back to guitar. We didn’t want another player with us; we wanted it to just be the three of us.
LM: We learned the hard way that we want it to just be us and not anybody else.
KO: We just learned how to switch between things. Luke just got some new triggers that link up to his kit so that while he’s playing, he can switch between different sounds on his kick, or whatever.
SA: We’ve always liked electronic music, but live music moved us more. We wanted to morph the two.

GTV: Was it an easy transition to morph that live aspect into that sound?
KO: It was really, really easy. It only took two years. [Laughs]
SA: Two years ago, we were four and we were playing very singer-songwriter with a band style. Most songs that I had written, some that we had written together, but most that I had written with just me and a guitar. It doesn’t sound the same when you put all three of us together playing a song. It’s much better now. We all had to learn how to play the type of music we wanted to hear. Luke had to learn how to play an electric drum pad. And it goes way deeper than just hitting sticks; you have to memorize all the functions of it. Kim with the synth parts: finding good parts, looking them up online, downloading them to your keypad.
LM: Just the process alone of songwriting and making the songs. During a song, you’re on one sound and you have to change like that. It definitely took time but I think we’re happy where we are now.
SA: It’s the music that I always heard in my head but I couldn’t make.

GTV: You guys have been a band for such a short amount of time and yet you guys have accomplished a lot already. How did you break into the local and national scenes?
SA: We got a huge boast of confidence when we recorded in LA, working in the music capital of the world. It humbled us, it made us feel small, but it also gave us the advice and the tools that we needed to shoot for the stars. No more small time; lets do it. We are going to make the music that we hear on the radio that makes us turn it up. It’s been a whole lot of hardcore grind. Playing as often as we can, trying to secure as many interviews as we can, as many showcases, as many band friends. It’s been a lot of work.
LM: All the non-sexy stuff you don’t see. It’s the day-to-day stuff; it’s a business. Anyone who says it’s not isn’t doing it right.

GTV: Playing Red Rocks Amphitheater is often a high point in an artist’s career, and you guys are already able to cross that off your list. What was it like playing in that venue?
SA: We were given a gift. Thousands of bands a year apply to play Film On The Rocks and we were lucky enough to be one of the selected bands; there are only about 30 chosen a year. The only time we’ll ever get to play Red Rocks again is if we’re invited to play again. It’s not a venue you can just rent out. Now we have to go international to be on that level to play Red Rocks again.
KO: Red Rocks was amazing. There’s nothing not to like about that venue. Every show there is amazing. It worked really well for us and was a good experience.

GTV: The band just released the single for ‘So Cold’, which is accompanied by a music video. Tell us a little about the single.
SA: The song is about us getting out our angst and aggression after we lost a band mate to a very dramatic experience and decided that we were going be the three of us. We went balls to the wall and made a new record.   When you go through a tragedy, which it was – we lost a friend and a confidant. There’s no relationship like a band. We depend on each other emotionally, we all have to follow the same dream, work really hard together. Eat, sleep, and work together while on the road; you really have to depend on your band mates. So losing one of them in a traumatic way was intense for us. It was our way of getting it all out in song versus in retaliation.
LM: It was like fuel. We learned the hard way and we learned from it. It’s what made us go to LA and get all these things done.
KO: That song, or all of our songs, it’s just up to the listeners to apply it to them. I can apply that song to a thousand relationships in my life.

GTV: What was it like to be able to film a video accompaniment for the single?
SA: We’ve shot several at this point but that was by far the most professional setting we’ve ever had. We hired a whole crew: the director, a cinematographer and his assistants, lights, a producer to boss everyone around. We got to just go be a band, which was nice because we weren’t in charge of the entire staff. It was a very cool experience. We got to drink champagne and hang out with French girls.
LM: We shot it in Joshua Tree, which is amazing. We’re out in the desert, went out to Hollywood. It was really cool to get to stay out there.
KO: It was a pretty crazy time because we flew out in the morning and had half a day to prepare.   We were all staying in an AirBnB and we needed blankets and towels and everything for the video. It was kind of 48 hours of straight work: going to bed at 2 or 3 in the morning and waking up at 5 or 6 for sunrise shoots. It was go, go, go. Then we hopped on a plane and came back.

GTV: The band’s Facebook page says you recorded at Serenity West Studios in LA. What was that experience like?
SA: That part was magical. Knowing that many of our idols have stood there. Jason Derulo is about as poptasitc as you can get and he just finished recording when we got there. While we were there Kelly Rowland was in and out. Shania Twain even! Luke saw her.
KO: I may or may not have played one of her guitars while she was not there.
LM: I saw her through the doorway and she’s still got it.
SA: We didn’t work with a big time crew. We’re not signed to a label so we were self recording; we had guidance from engineers and the owner of the studio.   It was awesome to be there in the glory of music that’s been recorded there. But it was also just a huge learning experience for us. We’re an independent band and we went into a world of wolves. We learned about how to self-manage and take control. We got an amazing record out of it, but now we know and next time we go back, we’re going to have way more self-control with what’s going on.
KO: One of the cool things about LA is that they have access to renting any equipment you want. They’ll give you an option out of what instruments you can play, and I always choose the $10,000 basses. They have access to that whereas here in Denver, we have great music stores, but we don’t have everything, they don’t have this huge inventory of equipment. So we got to play on the best equipment and sing into the best microphones.
LM: They were very serious about how they set things up, so we learned a lot on that side of it. How to make it more professional and how they do what they do.

GTV: Can we be expecting an album release soon?
LM: We don’t have a hard date, but we’re looking at November. We’re going to be doing a CD release party here in Denver, a big party that we’ll be throwing. Probably hitting the road pushing it after that. So we don’t have a fine date, but we should here soon. Stay tuned!
GTV: The band has a couple covers under their belt, including Beyoncé & Jack White’s ‘Don’t Hurt Yourself’ and A$AP Rocky’s ‘LSD’. What was it about those songs that made you want to make them into your own?
SA: As is the beauty of music, you kind of come up with your own meaning of what the song is to you. Both of those songs I loved because of their sound and their style. The lax feeling of the A$AP Rocky song was nice, because who doesn’t want to have the best night of their life? The Beyoncé song was another way for me to get out some aggression. I will never be Beyoncé, but it was so fun singing her lyrics and giving her some shout-out.

GTV: SIR has a show coming up at the Hi-Dive. How do you guys prepare for these shows?
KO: We go up into the mountains and find some spring water and we all just lay in it naked for 42 hours. But it can’t be more than 42; if it’s more than 42 it’s weird. We all have our separate pools though. [Laughs]
LM: We do a lot of stuff like interviews and stuff, which is fun, but having something to look forward to like a show is really fun. We get to be what we’re trying to be, which is musicians. I always like to get prepared with rehearsals, put a set list together, and do what the whole point of this is which, is to play music. It’s always fun to have a show on the horizon. This one is really cool because it’s a show that we’re doing to help someone out who has cancer, which makes it more meaningful. The gift we can share is our music. So we play and hope people show up and raise money for a good cause.

GTV: Do you feel that as your fame grows, your live performances have changed?
KO: It’s so much easier when you’re on a huge stage. When you have all that room and the lights and the venues right, it’s easy to jump to that level. It’s a lot harder when you’re playing on a small stage in a coffee shop in the middle of the day, which we’ve done and continue to do. We’re growing with ourselves.
LM: It’s all a process. You can’t jump right into that so we’ve grown and gotten better. We’ve added things. We see bands that we love doing cool things and we try to incorporate that. We’re always just trying to get better.
SA: I definitely think that the audience, the stage, the sound, its all getting bigger and better every single month, which is what we’re fighting for. And it’s working, thank god! We’ve been working our asses off for years and it’s actually starting to prove worth it. If singing alone and performing alone wasn’t worth it enough, what we’ve been chasing is this dream of sharing our music and changing lives, as cheesy as that sounds. That’s the ultimate goal, to affect people in different ways.

GTV: Any plans for the fall/spring that you can share with us?
KO: We’re going to release one more song next month before the album releases to keeping gearing up. We don’t have an exact date yet, but we will be releasing ‘Waiting’ soon.
SA: After the album we’re going right back to the studio and do it all over again. We’re ready, we’re itching to record again and get more out. That’s what we’ve been asked constantly is ‘when can we hear more?’ So we just want to get back to the studio and do it again. The goal for me personally is to get us to Europe next year and do some touring over there; expand beyond our nation.
KO: We finally have the base: having the songs, having them recorded, finding the right PR team, finding all these people. Now it’s just launch time so we can tour a lot.

Fuk Cancer Benefit

Catch SIR at the Hi-Dive in Denver, September 7 for the Fuk Cancer Benefit


Connect with SIR:

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