Endless Summer – BESTMAN Invigorates Nostalgic Synth-Pop Senses on New ‘August’ Single

BESTMAN’s Greg Gaffud, Jay Spiwak, Adam Bonich and Brian Clouthier. Photo – Jay Spiwak

BESTMAN instantly creates the perfect summer adrenaline rush.

The Chicago synth-pop quartet immediately invigorates the nostalgic senses on their shimmering ‘80s-fueled new single, “August,” which dropped May 29 via all streaming platforms.

“I’ve always wanted to write a song for Lake Shore Drive in Chicago. That’s my equivalent to Pacific Coast Highway or Route 66 – my Don Henley ode. I really wanted that song to feel the energy and excitement about possibilities. I always picture it as windows down on the way to see your lover. A lot to look forward to, and a hint of sexiness,” said Brian Clouthier, BESTMAN’s vocalist, guitarist and synthesist.

Clouthier and his BESTMAN bandmates Jay Spiwak (synths), Greg Gaffud (synths) and Adam Bonich (drums) beautifully capture the sonic essence of a humid Midwest ‘August’ night as pounding electronic drums, glistening, echoey synths and swirling electric guitar solos transport listeners to summer 1985.

Imagine speeding along in a convertible with your first love toward Lake Michigan as Clouthier sings, “You were dancing in my head/Since the night down on the west side/And I picture you in bed/How the light would touch your body/And you wanna see the beach when there’s time before the sunset.” It’s the ideal track to put on a mixtape between Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” and Phil Collins’ “Sussudio.”

“The song itself had been in the repertoire for a few years actually. It took me a while to get the recorded sounds where I wanted them. I do all my recording in my home studio, and ‘August’ was the type of song that initially came together quickly, but took a while to find the finishing touches,” Clouthier said.

“August” single artwork – Jay Spiwak

Synthy Summer Sounds – ‘143’ and ‘Big Sky’

August” isn’t the first BESTMAN track to feature the synthy sounds of neon-soaked summer nights. In early 2019, the band released “143,” a dancy, romantic anthem featuring booming, bright synths, bouncy bass, thumping electronic drums and groovy electric guitars. Clouthier wistfully sings, “The song was still the same, but sounded different/Oh the radio played out all our secrets/I get lost in your endless summer/Oh it’s cooler now, cooler now/No time to be alone.”

“Most of my songs are about romance, and ‘143’ is no different. It’s all about a late night walk back from a bar with someone – a quiet, empty city under a streetlight. There’s an emotion to it that I hope really inspires dancing and smiling. Like the excitement of that kiss at the end of the night. I think it was one of those 30-minute songs that all just fell into place while writing. The bassline was everything, and it was really built around that,” Clouthier said.

BESTMAN started building rhythmic basslines, shiny synth-pop textures and uplifting anthems on their electrifying four-track debut EP, Big Sky, in 2016. Big Sky celebrates newfound love, personal growth, youthful independence and future possibilities amid energetic, frenzied and brilliant ‘80s-esque pop. Its vast, lush sound rejuvenates your soul while inspiring a welcoming itch to create a makeshift dancefloor.

Big Sky was something special for me because it was the culmination of everything I wanted BESTMAN to be at the time – positive energy with elements of the song and styles that shaped me as a songwriter. The whole process took me a few months, and it was a scary feeling finally putting everything together and releasing it. It was the first time in a long time that I had released a collection of songs on my own. I was really nervous about how it would be received,” Clouthier said.

Not surprisingly, the title track greatly exceeds expectations as swirling, swift synths, intermittent electronic drums, exuberant electric guitars and New Age-like percussion expand and uplift listeners’ synth-pop horizons. Clouthier reflectively sings, “After the night we had, we were looking for a way to come down/Any way we can forget about it, somehow we know now/Don’t wanna be the one that moves in slow motion, never goin’/Just look inside, just take me somewhere/There I can breathe, I can see all the way back down.”

“The title track is probably my favorite song I’ve ever written. I wrote it about my best friends, and that’s really special to me. We were all going through a really tough transitional time, and it was my personal anthem for them. It was another song that came together so quickly, and I honestly think I wrote it lying on my living room floor,” Clouthier said.

Becoming BESTMAN

In fact, Clouthier started BESTMAN after visiting his best friend in California six years ago. That trip initially inspired a beachy sonic feel, but morphed to include the Midwest sheen of Clouthier’s youth. Once he returned home, Clouthier teamed up with Spiwak and Gaffud on synth and Bonich on drums for a wistful, optimistic and vibrant ‘80s sound.

“The retro feel to me really helped invoke the nostalgic feel I was looking for. The project itself was started after my best friend’s wedding where I was the best man and the fleeting romance and youthful energy of the night really drove home the overall feeling I was inspired by,” he said.

“I think the production sound of that era is the thing that really captures me. So much experimentation with new sounds and techniques at the time that it’s really inspiring, and I think the sound also lends itself really well to the subject matter.”

Clouthier developed a deep appreciation for ‘80s pop and emo-alt rock while growing up in the Chicago suburbs. He started playing guitar at age 14 and sought inspiration from Collins, Hey Mercedes’ Bob Nanna and Jimmy Eat World’s Jim Adkins.

By 2005, Clothier moved to Chicago and forged an emerging musical path that shaped his creative identity. A decade later he released his first BESTMAN singles, “New Blood,” and “Cry Little Sister,” to make lasting synth-pop waves in the Windy City and beyond.

With several blazing, summer-like singles and a vivid EP to uplift listeners’ nostalgic spirits, Clouthier plans to write and record new BESTMAN material soon. He’s focused on releasing a series of singles and possibly another EP as a follow-up to Big Sky.

“The new music is the best we’ve been sonically, and we’re stepping into new territory. ‘August’ plays into synthwave elements, and I think the retro elements are expanding even further on the next tunes. Even though our future is uncertain, we have to keep things going. This music makes us happy, and sharing it is our way of connecting. I think that’s really important now,” he said.

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