All four members of the indie rock band Early Eyes got their start playing music at young ages. Jake Berglove (guitar and lead vocals) and Henry Patterson (guitar and vocals) met through mutual friends while they were still in high school, and decided they would be roommates in college.
Wyatt Fuller, drums, popped up on a University of Minnesota Class of 2020 chat asking who wanted to be in a band. Berglove and Patterson responded with an enthusiastic “We do!” Des Lawrence (bass) joined after having been told about the group by mutual friends.
At a classic student hangout, the Hard Times Café, I spoke with the band about the Minneapolis DIY scene, working with Zeke Erickson of Subaquatic Records, Henry’s chiropractor mom adjusting Julien Ehrlich’s neck after a show, and their new EP set to be released soon.
Catch Early Eyes at the Whole this Friday, Feb. 10th as they compete in the first round of the University of Minnesota’s Battle of the Bands competition.
So, as you became friends, what was the intent in forming what is now Early Eyes?
Des Lawrence: I got this gig at an arts festival that the West Bank was putting on, and I originally was going to play with this piano player and we were gonna do some jazz tunes. But, he got really sick and took the semester off, and that was right about when I met these guys and we had played some music together, but I was like, “I still wanna play this show, do you guys wanna play this show with me?” and then we just did it. At first it was just for that show, we didn’t really have intentions of anything really. . .
…and when was that?
[all in unison]: Oct. 3!
Jake Berglove: The day Early Eyes became a band.
Lawrence: The day Wyatt played the drums with us for the first time!
Henry Patterson: Yeah, we would practice with a pad.
Wyatt Fuller: Yeah, this little drum machine. It was terrible.
Berglove: And then, surprisingly, all our friends were like, “Come see Early Eyes at Ferguson!” and close to 100 people showed up to see us that night. We decided to make a Facebook page, and by the end of that night, we had 200 likes and 500 by the end of the week! We just decided to make this a thing.
Patterson: And at a college, it’s the perfect little thriving community to get reciprocated by people who love music. We just did it and it happened.
Tell me about your perception of the Minneapolis DIY scene.
Berglove: It’s the best place in the world!
Fuller: I came from the NYC/Philadelphia area, and I think the key here is that it’s just the perfect size. You’ll meet somebody and they’re always going to be around. You won’t forget who they are the next day.
Berglove: Everyone’s friends here. There’s no beef within the scene or anything. Everyone’s here to just support each other, and it’s such a cool environment.
Lawrence: It’s just big enough, and at the same time, it’s just small enough. I don’t know, it’s awesome.
Jacobson: You’ve been working with Zeke Erickson and Subaquatic Records. Tell me about that.
Patterson: When I was in my bands back in Red Wing, I’d occasionally come up to play a show through…who knows how it got booked, but I played a couple shows with Zeke’s old bands too. It was a very acquaintance-like relationship, we had added each other on Facebook. In my senior year, though, I noticed that Zeke was really trying to build some community around the young artists around him at school. I saw him really trying to do something and take it seriously, and I really respected that. I was in conversation with him here and there, and then when we played that first show and made our Facebook page, he messaged me to ask if we wanted to be recorded, so that was always an option. Then we decided to be friends first, and we’d hang out with Zeke every now and then and size up the scene. We had a couple different options we could have gone for recording, but we eventually decided to go with Zeke. He’s really building a cool little community.
Tell me about your musical evolution. How did you come to listen to what you listen to now, and how is that influencing the music of Early Eyes?
Berglove: Let’s just go around the circle!
Fuller: My mom played a lot of Coldplay, and I was like, “Hell yeah, this is tight!” I liked them for a while then I got a little poppier; I listened to a lot of Two Door Cinema Club, the 1975. That was definitely when music started to inspire me. The 1975 had a huge impact on me, just with George Daniel, their drummer. He’s probably my biggest actual influence. Then I got really influenced when I moved here by these guys, I’m listening to a lot of the stuff they’re listening to now like Whitney. I definitely took on a lot of appreciation for a lot of different music now, so thanks, guys.
Patterson: Thank you for having an open mind, Wyatt.
Berglove: Well, my first concert was NSYNC when I was three years old. My mom brought me. I don’t really remember much except that Lance Bass was in the audience and kissed girls and they danced on platforms at one point, but anyhoo! In middle school I listened to a lot of adult contemporary music — like Jack Johnson, Sara Bareilles, Norah Jones, stuff like that. Mostly because of my aunt. She was my biggest musical influence — her name was Sue McLean, she was a huge promoter here. My aunt played a lot of soul and funk when I was growing up, and when I started writing music I was really into folk and lyricism and songwriting, so I listened to a lot of City and Colour and Shakey Graves, who is still my favorite musician of all times. As my music knowledge became a little more advanced I became more interested in the soul aspect of the blues and folk. I listened to a lot of Marvin Gaye, Al Greene, classic soul artists like that. Most recently I’ve been listening to a lot of neo-soul and funk, so like Allen Stone and Deangelo, and Hiatus Kaiyote.
Lawrence: For me, on my dad’s side it was like the Beatles, Beach Boys, Grateful Dead. On my mom’s side it was like Bob Marley, and just a whole lot of reggae and ska, and then like the Smiths and that whole scene – Sex Pistols, I guess. Then I started really liking music. There was something about it that was really hitting me, so I started looking for my own niche. So going off my dad’s music, I found Phish, with a PH, which is without a doubt my biggest influence; I’ve loved them for my entire life, and I don’t think I’ll ever stop loving them. I got my dad into them, he loves them now. . .that might have been my first concert. My dad and I have very similar music interests, I would show him something, and he would show me something.
Patterson: Aw, that’s so cute!
Lawrence: Eventually it got to sixth, seventh, eighth grade when all I listened to were Phish and jazz — like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, the bigs. Then in high school I got into more contemporary stuff like hip hoppy stuff, and electronic stuff. Mind Design, J. Dilla, D’Angelo, Badu, etc. And then that to know, just kind of everything, Mac DeMarco, Tame Impala, all the new sights kind of stuff.
Patterson: I grew up on a three-disc best of the ’70s compilation album. I had a CD player and I would just play that. “Free Ride” by Edgar Winter Group, and a couple Eagles songs were in there. It was actually a really well-put-together compilation, nothing too cheesy. When I started elementary school, I just listened to whatever was on the radio, like top 40. I had an iPod Shuffle and it was just a mix of Soulja Boy and then stuff my parents showed me — there was no actual search for music, it was just stuff that was coming in my life. In middle school, I got a Weezer CD, The Blue Album, at a garage sale in, like northern Wisconsin. I put in the car and blared it and my parents were like, “Stop.” That was the start of my conscious music library: it was just Weezer, Green Day, learning guitar to that stuff.
Lawrence: Yeah, I had a huge Green Day phase.
Patterson: Green Day, you know, a lot of people s— on them, but I think they deserve respect because they played a crucial part in our childhood. Then I got into the Red Hot Chili Peppers because power chords were losing their flavor. Then I started listening to bands that were more kind of stripped-down and simple, I guess, like the Strokes. And that was really cool because, and I’m gonna use air quotes, but I had “guitar chops” like the Chili Peppers, so I could go back to those simpler songs and actually play them well. After that I started getting into just random, like Mac DeMarco, the modern indies, Foxygen was huge, and then subsequently, John Rado’s work with Whitney and the Lemon Twigs.
Are ya’ll going to see Foxygen or Whitney?
[all, in unison]: Foxygen!
Berglove: We already saw Whitney earlier this fall!
Patterson: I’m going to go to Foxygen and try to find the afterparty, cause you know Rado and Whitney are gonna hang out. I’m trying to scope out that scene!
Berglove: Julien was like five seconds away from coming to like hang out at our dorm after the Whitney concert! He came up and talked to us afterwards; I mean, we were 18 years old and having way too much fun in the front row. He came up to us and was like, “Thank you so much for keeping the energy up!” He was really nice and really kind and we talked to him for like an hour, and your [Henry’s] mom was like…
Patterson: My mom was – so this was going to be my first 18+ show, and then my mom was like, “Yo, I’m gonna come to Whitney, I love Whitney.” So I’m like, “Okay, mom, come up, let’s hang out. Haven’t seen each other in a week,” because school just started. So she was with us and I just asked him because I thought the conversation was running a little dry, so I ask him, “Julien, how do you sleep on tour? You must sleep on a lot of floors, you know, how is it? How do you get to sleep, what is your method?” and he’s like, “Uh usually I start on my back, and then I go to my side, but then my neck gets all messed up and I’m kind of like a hunchback and so it’s just a problem.” So I ask him if he’s ever been adjusted by a chiropractor, and he said nope, and my mom is a chiropractor which is why I, like…so I say, “She’s right there, do you want an adjustment, she’d probably do it.” And so she came over, totally down to do this, and he said sure. She did it up right in a chair, cause she’s that good, and she adjusted his neck. It looked kind of creepy, like our friends got some pictures with, like, the low lighting and my mom’s hands around his neck; it was really funny. And, you know, I think she made his neck better, so…
Switching gears over to your music: how does the songwriting work?
Berglove: Yeah, I think it’s kinda weird. I think we’re different than a lot of bands in how we write music because one of us will write a song outline and then bring it in and we’ll all make a song out of it.
Lawrence: And it ends up completely different.
Berglove: We’ve written, I think, one song where we were all in the room, and were like, this is the song. That was “Fallen Snow”…
Patterson: …and “Minutes”!
Berglove: So, two songs, actually!
Patterson: It’s really interesting. Someone brings an outline in, usually Jake, and we hash it out with the band. With each new practice, or each new hang out in the dorm rooms with some guitars, we’ll each like think about how we can make it better, make it an actual song with complexity and details and little nuances. But I mean, each song is different, we don’t have anything established, that would take the fun out of it!
Lawrence: Most recently, we’ve been working on the writing more songs together thing.
Berglove: I think it’s working pretty well, because we have a song we’re working on right now that’s actually really complicated, and it’s really good too!
Lawrence: We’re gonna debut it at the Whole.
Patterson: It’s a really bad song. Let’s set their expectations low, when it’s actually really good. Songwriting is a process. You’ve just got to feed it, give it water and sunlight, and let it grow.
Do ya’ll want to tell me about this EP you have been working on?
Berglove: Oh, cool!
Fuller: We’ve been working on it, started it in the beginning of January and it’s still a work in progress. All that we can really say about it is that it’s coming out in early spring, there will be some singles that come out earlier.
Is there a title for it?
Patterson: We’re pretty set on Minutes.
Berglove: It’s up to change, but I think it’s 95% set.
Patterson: I think it’s Minutes.
Berglove: We said it. It’s gonna be on paper, there’s no going back!
Patterson: I like Minutes, I can’t think of a better one.
Berglove: Ah, s—!
Patterson: That sounds excruciating. Minutes is nicer.
Jacobson: How are we feeling about it?
Patterson: It’s been a very interesting process. We didn’t have a lot of experience recording in a formal setting before, like at all.
Berglove: I’m going to be honest, it’s really stressful at times.
Lawrence: There are really stressful points, and there are times where we’re like, “Yeah! We nailed that!”
Fuller: I think that in the beginning we didn’t really know what to expect, so we just tried to do what we’d been doing before and mix it in with the studio process and it was just a terrible way of going about it. We all took some emotional tolls, it took us to places we’ve never been before.
Lawrence: But it’s been a really good experience!
Fuller: It brought us together on a different emotional level, and after we got past that part, we knew what needed to be done.
Patterson: When we recorded our first demo, we did it ourselves completely. Actually these three did it mostly, 80%, while I was at home for the weekend. They just did it in the dorm rooms, recorded drums, bass, vocals, guitars, I laid down one guitar track, and boom, it was on SoundCloud. I think going into this project, we were like, all right we’ll do more than one song, we’ll take it more serious. And we’ve written these songs to be more tight, to be more complex. We thought it wouldn’t be that hard, it’ll be like what we were already doing, playing off each other, figure it out. But then we brought in our friend Zeke Erickson at Subaquatic Records to help, and we’re recording the rhythm section at a real studio where Wyatt goes to school with an engineer, Brian. So there are a lot of different variables — different perspectives that have come in to work with us on it, so we’ve had to reshape our vision on it. And it’s not a bad thing. As a band, you just have to open yourself up to what the outside world is, because that’s where we are; we exist in the world and we’re just trying to do our best in the given situation.
Berglove: As for the music, the roots of “Change Your Season” are still going to be there, because that’s really all our internet presence is right now. This has a much more, I would call it, refined sound, with like a lo-fi charm because we’re still not the kind of band who’s going to try too hard to be interpersonal…
Patterson: What do you mean by that?
Berglove: Just that we’re not going to try to make it sound too polished and perfect.
Lawrence: It’s going to sound more polished, and scratchy because of the lo-fi-ness, but overall, faster. “Change Your Season” has more chill, beachy vibes, but then these ones are a little bit more punchy.
Patterson: But still bass-driven; we ran with Des’s funk. Still lo-fi enough to have that homegrown, grassroots, DIY origin.
Berglove: We want it to sound honest, we don’t want it to sound like something we’re not.
Maia Jacobson is a student at the University of Minnesota — Twin Cities.