"You know we got invited to go to a party at Adelphi once, I think it was at Pearl Palooza."
"I invited you."
What started as a duo in Saratoga Springs between Johnny Gravitt (Lead Guitar) and Jake Brooks (Lead Vocals and Rhythm Guitar), 12 and 14 at the time, has blossomed into one of the most prominent up and coming bands in the alternative music industry. Accompanied by Ali Genevich (Backing Vocals, Keys and Violin), Ali Gross (Bass) and Kyle Squires (Drums), Gravitt and Brooks have created the love child of popular pop-punk band "The 1975," and popular alternative band, "Kings of Leon": Better By Morning.
(Right to Left: Brooks, Genevich, Grose, Squires, Gravitt)
Check out an interview between Better By Morning and The-Girl-Who-Invited-Them-To-An-Adelphi-Party-At-Pearlpalooza-Last-Year:
How did "Better By Morning" start?
Brooks: We (Gravitt and Brooks) got together and I was like "yo, this kid is mad good at the guitar." He sucks now, but he was really good back then [chuckling]. Johnny and I have been playing together ever since then. I already knew Kyle from a past engagement, and I was like "we need a drummer." So, Kyle joined us and we were a three piece for a while. Then we were looking for a backup singer and we found Ali Genevich because she went to the same high school I did, and I didn't know that she sang, but she was in my orchestra. We were already sort of friends and I was like, "oh let's see how it goes," and she sang really well.
Genevich: It was New Years Eve and you (Brooks) were like, "oh want to do a show with us?" And I was like, "what? Your band I went and saw preform in middle school?" I used to go and see Johnny and Jake play shows when I was in middle school with my friends. I love performance opportunities, so I figured why not. and then you (Brooks) asked if I wanted to stay in the band and I was like "sure, why not?”
Brooks: The way we found Ali Grose was a funny story. We were in an emergency situation and I knew he played bass. We go to the same college, and I called him up and said, "Ali, I have an emergency, meet me at this place," and he did and I said, "Ali, I have an emergency, we need a bass player for this show in a week." So he learned all of our music and just sort of joined us.
Grose: It was like five days before the show. They still had a bassist before that and I kind of took over as main bassist and have been playing ever since.
Gravitt: We were inspired by Bombay Bicycle Club.
Where is your favorite place to play?
Gravitt: "The Hollow" is kind of our home base.
Squires: We played Mercury Lounge in NYC.
Grose: Upstate Concert Hall.
Where did the name come from?
Brooks: I was like really sick for two weeks, and every day I would say I'd be better in the morning and my friend told me I should make that my band name, so I did.
What has your biggest failure been so far and how did you learn from it?
Gravitt: Maybe inviting Ali into the band [chuckles]. I'm kidding.
Brooks: We had some pretty bad shows in the past.
Squire: I'd say underestimating shows and thinking they're not important. Every show is important. Undermining shows for sure. There have been times where we've done that and they ended up being super pivotal moments for our band. We might undermine a show and go in with a half-ass practice, and it ends up turning out somebody important is there.
Genevich: Even if we don't sound terrible, I don't think we've ever played atrociously awful where somebody has asked us to leave the stage, but you should always be on point and well-rehearsed so you can lose it all when you're on stage and can have that artistic freedom when you're up on stage. If you don't have your technique or skills down, you won't preform well.
What has been your biggest success so far? Was there a moment when you looked at the band and where you were going and realized you could do this?
Genevich: There was a long period of time where we were sort of viewed as a kid band, especially Jake and Johnny before we all joined. I'd say there was a point when people stopped saying "oh they're a kid band," and started saying "that band is really good."
Brooks: People would look at us and say "oh they're a really good kid band," or "they're pretty good for kids." But after we had been writing music for a while, people started saying things like "oh they're really good songwriters," and to hear people say that, that we write good songs...
Squire: It made us realize that we could play our original sets and be an original band.
Brooks: When we started out we did covers and rarely did originals.
Gravitt: It's weird, though. I remember a couple of months ago I was driving down the road and I had EQX (102.7 F.M.) on, and my song comes on and I was like "hey, that's my song". It's kind of a cool experience.
What is the ultimate goal for "Better By Morning?"
Gravitt: To make this our living.
Do you feel like you're still growing?
Squire: Every time you write it's something different.
Gravitt: If you're not growing you're dying, so...
What's your best advice for other up and coming musicians or groups?
Squire: Take it seriously. Some people sell themselves short because they go to shows and party before they even go on.
Genevich: Not to say that we don't ever have fun, but we do take shows seriously.
Brooks: Or people sell themselves short by thinking they'll never amount to anything. They're like, "oh I write music, I guess it's ok..."
Squire: Get out of your bedroom and share your music.
Brooks: It's like "Back To The Future..."
Gravitt: No, it's not.
Brooks: The part of the movie where he meets his dad and his dad is like writing these stories, and he's like "oh I can't show anybody my stories," and he encourages his dad to show his stories, and then he goes back into the other future and his dad is a famous writer -- so chase your dreams, people.
Gravitt: Share your music if you don't want to be a loser.
What would you like to say to listeners?
Genevich: Be original with your music taste. Don't just go with what your friends want to listen to. If something speaks to you, even if it's freaking Opera, go listen to Opera. You know? Both Jake and I really like classical music.
Brooks: Classical actually has a huge influence on me, especially when it comes to instrumentation, I really like Phillip Glass-like minimalism, Stravinsky -- just the way they do so much with so little compared to Bach or Beethoven.
Genevich: I like Bach, actually, but I hate Mozart. I'm sorry, Mozart, you did a lot for us, but...
Brooks: I'm a huge fan of people who are able to do a lot with very little, which is what minimalism is about, which is why I'm such a huge fan of it.
Gravitt: Incubus will always be my favorite band. We have this one song, Mess I Made, which was inspired by Sick Sad Little World. One of my solo parts was really inspired by a solo part he did.
How do you balance all of your individual influences?
Genevich: We balance.
Gravitt: We sit down together.
Squire: We don't shut ideas down.
Gravitt: The way we write, we just kind of sit down and see what happens. None of us are super controlling, we just kind of sit down and let it become what it is. You're never going to be able to get everybody on the same wavelength as you.
Genevich: If somebody has a pre-existing idea, maybe they'll work together and write something, and if we bring it into the rest of the band it gets thrown around and usually turns out better than how it started.
Grose: My inspiration came from the "Red Hot Chili Peppers." I picked up the bass, but I kept it going because of Flea. If Flea wasn't around, the bass would just be a hobby. He's definitely my inspiration.
Grose: I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for my parents' taste in music. They're huge music fans -- mostly rock and alternative rock, and classic stuff like David Bowie.
Brooks: Bon Iver is the king.
"If we disappear, look for us... we're not gone."- Genevich.
And listen to their new single, The Middle, here:
All Images taken by M. Brooks at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute(RPI) On October 15, 2016.