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.

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Favorite Worst Enemy – Grass Bat Tackles Inner Demons on Latest Synth Pop Single

Grass Bat’s Noel Herbert has released three synth pop singles in 2019.

For Grass Bat, the biggest victory includes defeating the powerful Demogorgon lingering within his own version of the Upside Down.

The Los Angeles synth pop singer-songwriter obliterates his inner demons on his latest infectious ‘80s-inspired single, “Favorite Worst Enemy,” or “FWE,” which dropped Oct. 25.

The track features soaring synths mixed with echoey vocals as Grass Bat prepares for an epic 3.5-minute battle of the mind – “It’s rushing through my blood like you’re my only friend/My heart’s beating fast like you’re the only one/You’re the only one/I know you’re my favorite worst enemy.”

“I felt like I was holding on to these demons, and I was dealing with depression. It’s a lot of what I’m talking about in the song, and I don’t know if I knew that upon writing it,” said Noel Herbert, aka Grass Bat. “After listening to it and realizing this is what was going on in my head at the time, I was holding on to things I should be able to let go. The only times I felt free from it was going out and dancing and getting my head out of the negative space.”

Influenced by Detroit techno and new wave, synth pop icons The Cure and Depeche Mode, “Favorite Worst Enemy” serves as a cathartic mechanism for tackling personal struggles and eliminating the stigma of mental health.

“This is something I haven’t been talking about. I haven’t been open until very recently. I’m going through avenues like therapy, and I just want people to know this is a normal thing,” said Herbert, who relocated to Los Angeles last year after growing up in metro Detroit. “It’s super important that I feel like I let not just my audience know, but as many people as possible who are dealing with this kind of stuff.”

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Sonic Jungle – Grass Bat’s Noel Herbert Swoops Up ‘80s Synth Pop, Electro Rock for ‘Mistake’

Mistake single artwork

With thumping bass lines, catchy drumbeats and bright synths, Grass Bat is swooping up a new era of ‘80s-fueled indie pop through his latest single, “Mistake.”

Released in November, the glistening four-minute track explodes with refreshing synth pop sensibilities reminiscent of The Human League mixed with the experimental psychedelic electro rock of MGMT and Animal Collective.

“For some time now, even in my previous band, the reviews I had gotten were ‘You sound very ‘80s,’ and I didn’t grow up listening to a lot of ‘80s music,” said Noel Herbert, aka Grass Bat. “It was something was that never really piqued my interest at the time, and I kept on getting this review. I was like, ‘If this is what I’m going to sound like, then I might as well go all out.’”

While writing and recording “Mistake,” Herbert quickly absorbed ‘80s pop rock and adapted the song’s melodies, structure and synths to recreate the era’s sound with a modern flair. It also features Adventures with Vultures’ Matt Sauter on guitar and Kayo Musiq on bass.

“Part of it being modern is the structure of the song, there’s an intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge and a double chorus at the end,” said Herbert, who grew up playing piano and guitar and was inspired by Simon & Garfunkel, The Beatles, Joan Baez and Celtic folk music. “Part of the reason I did that was for sync licensing, it makes it easier if the song is ever going to get played in a commercial or on a TV show.”

For Herbert, the song’s lyrics take on a personal meaning about a past failed relationship and allow him to process the whole situation. They’re written through self-awareness and his internal experience of the outside world.

“I wasn’t sure what the song was about when I first wrote it. It wasn’t until probably a month ago that I was listening to it, and it finally clicked in my head where it came from,” he said. “It can be interpreted in so many different ways. It’s so important that each person interprets it in their own way, and that they can have their own feelings toward it.”

Continue reading “Sonic Jungle – Grass Bat’s Noel Herbert Swoops Up ‘80s Synth Pop, Electro Rock for ‘Mistake’”