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/// ON TOUR


Empires


EMPIRES: T


EMPIRES MXTP, Grand Rapids Sept. 8, 6 p.m. $8 in advance, $10 day of show All ages mxtp.us


PHOTO: PAUL CARSON


Patriarchs of Do-it-Yourself Garage Rock | by Kevin VanAntwerpen


HRE E YEARS B E FORE IT was a semi-finalist in Rolling Stone magazine’s “Choose the Cover” contest, Chicago’s spastic garage-rock outfit Empires had no intention of


becoming a national touring act. “We never really in-


tended to take the band around the country,” said Guitarist Tom Conrad. “But people just kept coming to our shows and eventu- ally there was no other option.” It would seem that


even before the release


of its debut album, Howl, the Chicago music scene had grand plans for Empires. While the band was still in the studio, hype had been building around the town. “A lot of people knew we were playing,


and there was a little buzz,” Conrad said. “A lot of people were curious about what we’d been working on.” Some may attribute Empires’ early success


to the mild fame Conrad had already received playing in Fueled by Ramen act The Academy Is… between 2004 and 2006. But Conrad in- sists he’d put the band behind him long before Empires began.


68 | REVUEWM.COM | SEPTEMBER 2011 “It may have helped me in an individual


way, but our band has never capitalized on that,” he said. “It was a very long time ago and we never tried to associate or ride on [The Academy Is’] coattails. I wanted something fresh. I didn’t ever want to chase after some- thing that I’d already had.” Since the band’s conception, the members


of Empires have consistently been charismatic about succeeding on their own terms. Even when a representative from Rolling Stone con- tacted them about entering the “Choose the Cover” contest, the band was hesitant. “Rolling Stone went through about 15,000


bands in the United States and we were one that they really wanted to do it,” Conrad said. “I don’t think we would’ve done it without them really pushing us. We were really cau- tious. We’ve been so DIY that it’s just difficult to reach out and go for something that you don’t have complete control of … but our band came out stronger because of it.” Though Empires was eliminated in the


second-to-last round of voting, since the band’s run in the contest, attendance at shows and performance on various social networks has increased considerably. Perhaps the pub- licity boost arrived with perfect timing – the band is just wrapping up its second full-length album. n


SCHEDULE | DINING | SIGHTS | SOUNDS | SCENE


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