Since forming Two Cheers a few years ago in Los Angeles, frontman Bryan Akcasu hasn’t quite done things the traditional way — but we love the trajectory he chooses instead. Relocating to Detroit to launch a new iteration of the band and do the whole ~adulthood~ thing complete with getting married and buying a house, Bryan worked hard to get the band back on track with new content and a thoughtful creative process. On Two Cheers’ newest full-length record, Rollick, officially dropping tomorrow, indie-pop anthems are carefully developed by combining honest songwriting and intense instrumentation.
Rollick opens with “Over My Shoulder,” the album’s first single. An unconventional love song, the track bubbles with a spacey bass line before a multi-instrumental arrangement kicks in, giving a vibrancy to Bryan’s distinct, melting vocals. On “Woman…,” Two Cheers expertly blend varying elements — fuzzy reverb, slow-jam rhythms, entire seconds of sudden silence — to create an intriguing track led by bittersweet delivery. Later, “Love You To Death” creeps with a thick, pulsing arrangement as Bryan confesses with resignation, “I love you to death with all of my breath / And that’s the best I can do for someone like you.”
Rollick‘s second single, “No Good At Talking,” is a melancholic, melody-driven track. Here, Bryan’s vocals are at their best, aching with emotion, and the indie-rock instrumentation slows and explodes at the perfect times. The second to last track on the record is “Hinterland,” a beautifully layered ballad acting as a confessional of sorts for Bryan to work through his feelings after his mother’s tragic passing earlier this year. With swollen melodies and sparkling rhythms, the song is a heavy, lush standout. Rollick ends with “Rest Of My Life”, an aptly-named conclusion to a catchy record implying much more to come. The song drips with 80s influence, opening with synth swells and bright surf-pop beats, Bryan singing abstract, poetic lines like “beauty comes, naked like a tree,” with a grungey twang not unlike The Cure’s Robert Smith.
On Rollick, Bryan Akcasu bravely and thoughtfully channels his grief through the power of music. Collectively, Two Cheers have strength in creativity. Their production is meticulously crafted, their arrangements are colorful and innovative, the songwriting tackles tough subjects with grace, and overall, Rollick is rich with indie-pop gems that make you dance and leave you thinking — the best music combination we could ask for.
Read our exclusive Buzz Artist interview with Bryan Akcasu here and get ready for Rollick‘s official release tomorrow:
Buzz Artist: First, can you tell Buzz Artist a little about yourselves and your music?
Bryan Akcasu of Two Cheers: We’re just some people living in the Detroit area making music we like a lot, trying to do something a little different with the indie-rock format. I grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan, moved to Los Angeles with my family and recently returned to Michigan just a couple years ago. Our music is all about the spirit and addresses the experiences of the soul that confront us all every day, but it’s all wrapped up in a layer of sweet, catchy, head-bobbing ear candy to help the medicine go down.
BA: What is the music scene like in Detroit and how has it influenced your work?
Bryan: It’s okay! It’s a close-knit community, or maybe a handful of close-knit communities co-existing. I wouldn’t say it has influenced our music all that much, except maybe pushed us to come up with a more distinctive sound, to stand out from the crowd a bit. I don’t think we really fit in here though, in a weird way.
BA: Describe each member of your band using 5 words each.
Bryan: Bryan – ambitious, productive, introverted, diligent, shrewd. Owen – nerdy (in a good way), industrious, resourceful, mellow, funny. Megan – ethical, aware, organized, kind, serious. Carlton – reliable, jovial, positive, dedicated, enthusiastic. Austin – straightforward, thoughtful, gentle giant, gregarious, honest.
BA: You guys have a new full-length album, Rollick, dropping tomorrow. What was the production process like for the record?
Bryan: It was interesting, and somewhat different for Two Cheers. Like usual, the songs evolved from little nuggets of music we came up with during jams, but there were 5 of us this time instead of two of us, so there were more ideas and bigger variety of them too. Based on my personal life, I kind of picked the ones that were resonating with me at the moment and turned them into songs with structures as well as melodies and lyrics for the vocals. Then we all collaborated on the finishing touches and added all of our fingerprints to the record in various ways. It was an eventful, difficult year for me, but also a time for reflection, gratitude, and love, so there is big range of moods and feelings on this record.
BA: Where do you get your songwriting inspiration from? Is it a collaborative process?
Bryan: I think in that initial phase when we are just jamming, we are all working from our intuitions and personal influences, so in that sense it’s collaborative. Usually when I get to the point of turning jams into songs, I’m exerting a certain amount of my own tastes and perspective on the songs, and that is a lot of modern pop music and 80s & 90s music, but also mid-century poetry, eastern philosophy, whatever weird things that come from my imagination, and to a large degree, things that happen in my life that I want to blow up to be larger than life.
BA: Can you talk a little about your single, “No Good At Talking”?
Bryan: It is probably the oldest Two Cheers song; I wrote it before our first album in 2013, and the current line-up felt very strongly about finally recording it. It’s about the time I broke up with the woman that is now my wife back when we first started dating. I felt like I had made a mistake, but I was confused about life and scared to involve anyone else in my craziness. On top of that, I didn’t feel like I could explain everything going on in my heart to her at the time to explain my true feelings. Eventually, I figured it out! But that feeling of not quite being able or ready to let someone in and feeling like a pariah but also feeling isolated happens to a lot of people.
BA: What’s the story behind your other single, “Over My Shoulder”?
Bryan: My wife is often my muse, kind of indirectly, because when I am stuck on something or feeling unmotivated or dejected, I like to take a step back and see the best parts of myself through her eyes; a better version of myself that is confident and persistent. It’s totally presumptuous, but it kind of makes me drop my ego and just get down to business and figure things out. As far as the music goes, it’s one of the few [songs] that I actually wrote lyrics and music for first, and then left it to the band to build up and embellish. Owen and Carlton really took over on it, so it’s got that really unusual chorus with all the interlocking synths and complex drum pattern. It really fell into place easily all the way around.
BA: What has been your most memorable musical moment so far?
Bryan: A few times, I’ve been listening to a new Two Cheers song with someone and it makes them tear up. To me, that’s the best because, even if just a little bit, I communicated something that I felt to someone else on the deepest level possible.
BA: If you could share the stage with one band or musician, who would it be and why?
Bryan: I would want to do duet with Bjork. I just love the way she sings.
Buzz Artist: Finally, what’s next for Two Cheers?
Bryan Akcasu: We’ll probably get back to work on new music for a bit and then get ready to tour this Fall maybe. As much as I love playing shows, I have some new songs and sounds in my head that I want to get out while they are fresh!