Priory On ‘Weekend,’ the Best Things About Portland + More
From its sports and eclectic culture to the coffee and constantly growing music scene, Portland, Ore. is a city that seems to always grab our attention. So what better way to get to know Stumptown even better than by chatting with the town's premier up-and-coming alt-dance pop outfit, Priory?
Known best for their hit single, 'Weekend,' Priory have already dropped their EP (with the same name) and are gearing up to release their debut album in March 2015. Meeting each other by chance within the Portland music scene, the duo has already played throughout the U.S. and Canada, including an energy-packed set at 'Jimmy Kimmel Live!'
Brandon Rush and Kyle Sears, the masterminds behind the band, took some time out to chat with us about their music, where they hope to play one day and the best things about Portland.
Let's start with your EP's title track. 'Weekend' has clearly gotten you guys a whole lot of attention. What's the song about?
Brandon Rush: There's a theme that runs through the album, and it's about the survival of our youth because the songs are written from personal experience. But if there's one overriding message, it's that life is one gigantic party and everyone is invited. So a lot of these songs bring up a lot of subject matter that can be a little dark, but the goal isn't to find a solution. A lot of times, it's cathartic just to express it and put it out there because a lot of people are going through the same stuff and a lot of people are going through the same s--t.
Aside from 'Weekend,' what's one of the most memorable songs you've written?
Kyle Sears: 'Big Love,' which is going to be on the full-length album, is probably it. We had written a pretty quick version of it, and we were lucky enough to go to London and work with Spike Stent, who's worked with No Doubt, Madonna, Bjork. And basically the theme about that is "Give the world a f--king big hug. It's a big party. Big love's gonna knock you out." We all love each other. We all have problems in life, but we're all together in this thing. When we were [initially] writing the song, the arrangement lost its path.
Rush: So what happened with 'Big Love' is that after we wrote the song, we sent it to some people for feedback and ended up making seven to eight versions of it. We still weren't happy with it. When we went to London to work with Spike Stent, he asked us to play him the original, the one we did in two days. And he said, "Well, that's f--king it, mate." So he started pulling out pedals and synths and we spent a lot of time just nerding out with him. You could see a sparkle in his eye because he usually just does mixing and doesn't get to go into the creative process all the time. I don't think he's done production in a long time.
Let's talk about Portland, your home base. We know all about the city, but just from a surface level. How has the city and its music scene influenced Priory?
Rush: The Portland music scene is small, but the reality is everyone is in a band. So there's a s--t ton of bands. Minimum wage jobs are impossible to get. Barista jobs are impossible to get.
Sears: It's the most coveted job there. Everyone wants to work 10 hours a week then do their own thing. It's like the Microsoft of Portland or something. Everyone's trying to get this 10-hour barista Stumptown job.
Rush: A lot of our friends are in bands. I think the one contribution that Portland makes is that it loves things being weird -- like everything is outside the box.
Sears: It's really empowering.
Rush: It really is. I think with a lot of big cities, which I love to death like L.A. and New York, it feels like there are equations to the music scene. And you can tell when you hear it. But in Portland, it's like the weirdest s--t. If you start to sound too much like something, someone's going to hate on it. And we also run that risk because we decided we're going to make something we love inside and out, and we're not going to compromise on any level. We didn't compromise on any area of the creation process, and I think it paid off. But I think Portland is Portland. You never know what you're going to find.
You clearly have love for the area. What's the one thing from Portland that you miss every time you go on tour?
Sears: New York has good coffee, but it's hard to get a good cup. We're really spoiled.
Rush: We drink a lot of [Pilot] Flying J, a lot of truck stop coffee, and I look at it as a different beverage. It's very cliche Portland, but we really do have great, great coffee shops. Shout out to Coava. Every day we were making the album, we went to grab their coffee.
Priory have been on the road and it seems like you guys are hitting a lot of cool spots. But where do you ultimately want to play?
Sears: We want to play everywhere.
Rush: We ultimately want to play stadiums. We love playing for big audiences. We love what we're doing, and we're very aware that not everybody gets to do this. And so we want to embrace it and work our asses off to keep doing it. Hopefully, we want to play wherever people care.