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Mohawk College Music: Frantic Lullabies

The contemporary jazz students are bandmates, buddies, and ambitious musicians.

(Left to right) Below: Madison Agar, Above: Spencer Devolin, James DeGeer, Jacob Wiley, Dermott Shepherd. Photo credit: Jacqueline Sicard

Together as a band for two years, the Mohawk College Music students and best friends met in their first year of school.

(Madison Agar.) Photo credit: Sarah Jessica

"We all came to the music program in the same year," said bassist Spencer Devolin. "We formed as a band going into our second year- Madison got offered a gig from Matt Woodcroft from Wooly Mantis, and he accepted before he even had a band, so basically he had to put us together."

Madison Agar is the lead vocalist of Frantic Lullabies. "Frantic started back in 2016, it was a passion project essentially," said Agar. "I just wanted people over at my house to jam- I think I invited 15 people over, 8 showed up, and out of those eight I think two people stayed. One person out of those eight that showed up was an artist/contortionist/guitar player named Sequoia Lehman, and she had this art page called Sequoia's Frantic Lullabies. I asked if I could use that for a band name and she said, "Hell yeah.""

Frantic is a five-piece band made up of Agar and Devolin, as well as James DeGeer on lead guitar, Dermott Shepherd on the synthesizer, and Jacob Wiley on drums.

"We added Dermott in after," said Wiley. "We had him sit in on a practice and play with us, and we all knew we had to have this guy. It was too good, the sound was complete."

(Jacob Wiley.) Photo credit: Sarah Jessica

The boys pull from a wide range of influences- from ambient music, to indie-rock, to jazz.

"I think it's too hard to boil it down to a couple of influences," said Shepherd. "Individually we all have people that inspire us. We just sort of use the umbrella term of 'alternative', or like progressive rock. It's usually analytical first, then we kind of try to texture it, and make it nice to listen to. It's very math-y at times."

"We have the progressive elements on my side," said DeGeer. "Then there's the whole singer-songwriter aspects from Madison, then there's the synth-y, ambient parts of Dermott, and the funk elements from Spencer, then the rock elements from Jacob. It's got a very strong basis of theory, and jazz theory especially, then we sort of add our own flare to it."

"I feel like it all comes from different places," said Agar. "Progressive orientation, funk, indie-rock, ambient stuff. It all just collides in this very whimsical way that I personally love."

The band prefers to write their music as a group, rather than creating each part separately.

(Left to right: Madison Agar, James DeGeer, Spencer Devolin.) Photo credit: Sarah Jessica

"One of us will have an idea, and we'll all get together and have some sort of chord progression, and basically from that point we all sort of work on it together," said Devolin. "I feel like that's where all of our influences really come out, everybody is contributing to the writing of the songs. There aren't really any restraints on it either, we're all free to do what we want."

"A lot of our writing process involves us just kind of throwing stuff at the wall and seeing what sticks," said Wiley. "Then from there trying to make art out of it. I think our sound is kind of, like, all over the place, and that's kind of what makes it us."

"I know what this project does for myself and these gentlemen, and hopefully it can do the same for everyone who listens," said Agar.

Frantic Lullabies played their debut show on July 21st of 2017, at Hamilton's The Door's Pub.

"We had so much positive feedback, it was so astounding," said Wiley. "We all had too much fun for it to be healthy."

(Spencer Devolin.) Photo credit: Sarah Jessica

"It was pretty well received," said Devolin. "We were surrounded by our peers and fellow music students in our program who are in bands, so we put it together and we were kind of like, "Uh, how good is this going to be?""

"The songs might not have been very good at that point, but the energy was there," said DeGeer.

Besides Frantic, the members are also individual musicians for hire. Devolin is the bassist for two local bands Life and the Tribe, and Stork and the Babymakers.

(Dermott Shepherd.) Photo credit: Sarah Jessica

"Over the past couple of years I've been writing a bunch of demos for my other project," said Shepherd. "It's kind of more of an experimental rock, shoe-gaze kind of thing. We just played our first show earlier this month, the band's called Memory Lakes."

Crowded around in a circle in Mill's Hardware's green room, the boys discuss their upcoming EP.

(James Degeer.) Photo credit: Sarah Jessica

"We hope to have it out by the summer," said Agar. "Most of the songs on there will be from what we already play, but who knows, maybe we'll write something else and add more to the original set. We're very excited for that."

"I was thinking of calling it Gizmo," said Agar. "Maybe we'll change it, but for now we're thinking Gizmo. I thought of it when I was showing my mom how to use her phone one day, she used that term- and I thought about how broad it was for her to use that term to refer to a device that lets her have access to the entire internet, yet she only uses it to text me, my sister, and my dad. That's the idea for now."

Upcoming gigs:

June 7th 2019 w/ Sages @ Corktown Pub, 175 Young St. Hamilton, ON


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