From exclusive interviews, live performances, special collections and more, we’re celebrating music all month long. We talked to the bands and artists playing our upcoming UO Live in Austin shows about their musical beginnings and the places they’re headed next.to read from our favorite musicians.
In conjunction with our latest partnership with VH1 Save The Music Foundation, we caught up with Grammy-nominated group The Internet to talk about their latest solo and collective works, the future of the band, and why music education is so important.
“Take care of the family that you came with,” sings The Internet vocalist Syd Bennett. On “All About Me,” the standout lead single from her solo debut, Fin, the lyric rides over top of a slinking beat produced by The Internet’s guitarist Steve Lacy and encapsulates the ethos of the group’s various solo explorations. In the last month, three of The Internet’s members have released solo projects. Syd released Fin, The Internet’s beatmaker Matt “Martians” Martin released The Drum/Chord Theory, guitarist Steve Lacy launched his debut, Steve Lacy’s Demo, and bassist and drummer Patrick Paige II and Christopher Smith each have their own projects in the works.
For some bands, this kind of splintering off might signify a divergence of creative viewpoints or an indication that they may be headed their separate ways, but for The Internet, it’s all part of a grander plan. “It makes us stronger. It takes the pressure off of having to pack so many sounds and ideas into one album. Now, we all have our own thing where we can really go anywhere with our music. I could make a punk album or a country album if I want to. I have that opportunity with the support of my band,” Martin says.
Each member’s respective solo project explores the edges of their individual creative spheres, and like a colorful venn diagram, serves to shade in the space where those spheres overlap. That shared space is The Internet. “It’s like pumping fuel to the rocket ship to take off,” Lacy says. And that’s not to say they weren’t involved in each others’ projects. Syd and Lacy appear on The Drum/Chord Theory, and Fin features guitar work and production by Lacy. Syd’s been picking up co-writing credits on bassist Patrick Paige’s forthcoming release. Only Steve Lacy’s EP is completely his.
We meet with the group on the set of their photoshoot for the VH1 Save the Music X Urban Outfitters collection in between tour stops in New York and Philadelphia. The theme of the tour is The Internet Presents: The Internet, where each member’s talents can be showcased, and woven between classic The Internet cuts. “We all play each other’s songs, backing each other’s sets. everybody has their own time on stage, mixed with The Internet songs here and there to have a bed to lay in,” says Martin.
On set, the band supports one another, trading jokes and bouts of energy, and keeping each other in-line. Paige and Smith sword fight with two traffic stanchions. The band members mug for each other as they take snapshots with Instax cameras. When we finally sit down to chat, they’re understandably worn out, yet still somehow buzzing with energy about their latest work, and about the VH1 Save The Music project that we just shot; almost every band member is a direct product of a school music program.
Drummer Chris Smith and Syd both attended Hamilton High School, whose Academy of Music and Performing Arts is widely recognized as having produced much of L.A.’s music scene, pushing hip-hop forward on the west coast. Without programs like Hamilton High’s, “you might be stopping the next Danny Brown or the next Michael jackson, the next Whitney Houston,” Smith says. “You don’t know where that person could be, but if they have an opportunity that’s nearby for them to cultivate and facilitate that skill, there you go.”
“Part of why I’m here is through the music program in a school,” Lacy tells us. After playing guitar for a few years, his mother made him choose between music and sports, and he ended up in the school jazz band with Jameel Bruner, who later became The Internet’s keyboardist before leaving the band in late 2016. “I didn’t realize that I could create my own ideas until I started kicking it with him. Music programs introduced me to him and people like him. He totally opened my mind up to so much new music. If it wasn’t for that music program, I would not be here right now.”
Patrick Paige learned to play the standup bass in 8th grade at Johnnie Cochran Middle School. “I was playing the real basic-ass classical music, one note at a time. I always wanted to play guitar more, but finally I started taking bass seriously. I wouldn’t know how to play bass if it wasn’t for that.”
Matt Martin, who grew up in the thriving musical world of Atlanta, studied visual arts in school and got into music when he was in college. “Kids have the craziest ideas,” he says, “like, ’I want to put a dinosaur on my shoe eating ice cream!’ They’re told that’s stupid, that doesn’t make sense. When somebody’s been told that so many times, they stop thinking creatively. With music in school, it’s a good mixture of structure and open-endedness, where kids can explore the talents that they have.”
As for what’s next for The Internet, they’ve reunited after their solo forays and feel like they’ve finally hit their stride. “We’re locked in, every show,” says Syd. They have a few instrumental ideas kicking around for the next record and plan to dig into that as soon as their tour is done, acknowledging that having too much of plan can limit potential. “We’ll just be a feather in the wind,” Lacy chimes in, “no anticipation, no expectations.”
See The Internet on Saturday, March 18th at 7PM at UO Space 24 Twenty for UO Live in Austin presented by VH1 Save The Music and Fujifilm.