The Ceremonies are an indie-alternative band from Los Angeles, CA. In this Suede-exclusive interview, we asked The Ceremonies about their beginnings, inspirations, being featured in a movie, and the upcoming year. Read on to see what they had to say!
Noa (SUEDE): Okay so basically I guess we’re going to start from the very beginning. Where did The Ceremonies come from? Like how did it start, where did the name come from, we just want to hear everything about the beginning.
Mark (TC): Where did it start? Well, it started in the room we’re in right now.
Matte (TC): Well we’ve always been singing together since we were young and then it kinda naturally evolved into us playing charity shows and different things together at our high school. And then I was always in bands growing up, and Mark and Michael would sort of fill in whenever, like if our drummer didn’t come that day. ‘Cause in high school everyone was so flaky, I feel like.
Mark (TC): We were the understudies!
Matte (TC): So like they would fill in, and then conceptually I remember The Ceremonies came together probably my first year in college. And then for the name we found much of our inspiration through authors and conceptually — like uh, the fact that “ceremony” plays such a big role in people’s lives. It’s like when one comes to terms with the idea of a death to a wedding to a birthday to a right of passage, and they’re all-encompassing. And they’re really just about bringing people together, too, and it’s definitely about experience and perspectives.
Mark (TC): And there were a few other references for the name. Lois Lowry’s book The Giver, specifically “The Ceremony of Three,” where it’s about kids in the book going through different ceremonies; coming of age ceremonies.
Matte (TC): Also all of our initials are M.C., so Master of Ceremonies. But that was just on account of, honestly, someone just pointing that out to us. It really was about meaning for us and, um, a bunch of different people inspiring us talking about ceremonies encouraging them. A lot of, like, thinkers.
Mark (TC): And then the last reference was people getting motivated by a ceremony. Sort of that, in a way.
Noa (SUEDE): That was so deep!
Matte (TC): Well, actually, Michael was dating this girl named Sarah, and we also like money, so we were like Sarah Money?
Michael (TC): Totally
Matte (TC): It’s funny because there have been a few bands where I’ve heard them misdirect people in terms of what their band name means. Blink-182 used to do it all the time, I remember growing up, like Tom DeLonge saying it meant “Boys Lusting Incredibly Naked Kids” and then everyone would be dead silent and he would say “but that’s not really true.” So yeah, that’s our version of that. Sarah Money.
Jillian (SUEDE): Alright, next question. So how has your music evolved since you first began playing music together?
Matte (TC): I think our music evolved just based on what we’re into. A lot of songs people write are inspired by what they listen to, and we tend to go back in time, it seems like, and turn that into newer stuff.
Michael (TC): We try to throw a contemporary twist on that, but our main influences are the older generation.
Mandi (SUEDE): You said you refer back to a lot of old music, but what music specifically do you think inspires your music?
Matte (TC): The Beach Boys, Beatles, The Cure, The Smiths, The Doors, Michael Jackson, Radiohead.
Michael (TC): [in reference to band posters in the room they’re in] A lot of them are on the wall.
Matte (TC): Elvis, Nirvana … Mariah Carey. No, not Mariah Carey, but you know who does inspire me? Ariana Grande.
Nika (SUEDE): Hey, I have a question. So … what was it like having your music featured in Mono with Ty Parker?
Matte (TC): It was a dream come true. But really, you could’ve just asked, “What does it feel like to have it in the best movie of all time?”
Mark (TC): That’s just a fact.
Jillian (SUEDE): And you freaking know a movie star! [in reference to Ty Parker]
Michael (TC): From Mono!
Mark (TC): It’s right up there with The Godfather! It’s up there.
Matte (TC): The Godfather, Fight Club, Mono!
Noa (SUEDE): Okay so how do you guys feel about the internet and the music industry? Do you feel it plays a bigger role than it should? Or, what are your opinions on it?
Matte (TC): I think it’s great because it makes it easier to spread stuff.
Mark (TC): Yeah, discoverability has changed significantly since, like, prior to the internet. Think of all the bands you like now, that you probably couldn’t have discovered had you not been on the internet, surfin’ the web, y’know?
Michael (TC): But then again, the internet. It’s very —
Matte (TC): Oversaturated.
Michael (TC): Without the internet, people are able to go to the bar and hear live music, so there’s also that.
Matte (TC): Yeah, I think definitely now it’s just oversaturated. There’s nothing holding people back from posting music. [mocking amateurs] “Dis is my forst time! You guys listen!”
Mark (TC): Like, what’s awesome about it is that everyone can share their music, but also what sucks about it is EVERYONE can share their music.
Noa (SUEDE): Do you guys feel that, as a band, you don’t need to be signed to a label to “make it” since the internet’s playing such a big part?
Matte (TC): No, I don’t think labels are important.
Mark (TC): Yeah, I agree.
Matte (TC): What IS important though is funding.
Noa (SUEDE): Do you think you can get your funding without a label? Since you guys are only musicians, is that how you get your general funding? Or do you do side projects to feed into your music?
Matte (TC): Well, we mostly just want our music to take all the time, ’cause there’re so many different facets. Like, it’s not just playing music and recording. We try to be hands-on with everything. For example, before this, I was editing videos by myself and we were trying to get all the stuff booked on our own, like the locations, and we were just very hands-on in all elements of it. So when you’re taking a project on in that sense, I think it sort of needs 100% of your attention, y’know, we wanna give it our all so we can put out new stuff for you. But then, all those people from the labels, it’s like placing your trust in people to control your artistic decisions. It’s less work for you but you don’t have too much control as probably should be necessary for someone to really make their art.
Noa (SUEDE): Speaking of side projects, what’s going on with New Nostalgia?
Michael (TC): It’s in the developing stages right now, it’s really just a fashion line by The Ceremonies.
Matte (TC): Well, we’re starting it that way. We’re trying to make it into our style as a brand. We’re trying to start an art collective team and we want it to be like a brand used to showcase artists and tons of different media, whether it’s tattoo artists or um, y’know, pumpkin carving.
Michael (TC): For example, Quiksilver has snowboarders and surfers as their lifestyle, their brand. Our brand is gonna be like poets and writers and visual art.
Jillian (SUEDE): To backtrack, I was thinking about the internet thing, and do y’all ever feel scared that you’ll get lost in the mix of the internet? Or do you think it kinda helps more when you put something out online?
Matte (TC): We’re just hoping we get found one day, we’re not really worried about getting lost. Just getting found. Actually, the real answer to that question is, I don’t think we’re worried about that. We’re just trying to concentrate on doing what we love. There’s this Andy Warhol quote that I really like where he said, like, while everyone else is deciding if they like or dislike your art, go and make more art. And so we try and kinda not pay much attention to who’s discovering or who’s doing what, we just wanna like focus on not giving up the work that we believe in.
Mandi (SUEDE): I’ve got a question. This is weirdly specific, but I was just wondering about it. So how do you guys go about writing music in terms of being family? Is it awkward sometimes or is it better because you guys are so close?
Mark (TC): We’ve sort of experimented with all kinds of songwriting processes. Sometimes we each write individually and then bring stuff to the table and work on it together, or we start together and then sort of expand on it. There are a lot of ways to do it, but being a family … I don’t think that matters at all [when it comes to writing]. We have similar tastes and we work well together and that’s how it works.
Matte (TC): I think it probably helps in the sense that sometimes you’ve written with people you’ve just met. And we’ve tried that, but I think it’s a little bit more difficult sometimes because you might reference something dialectically that you assume that person would know what you’re talking about, but they don’t. In that sense, being a family might benefit in that way because I could say, “Oh, doesn’t this sound like Johnny Marr?” and they’ll know what I mean by that reference, whereas another writer might not know who Johnny Marr is. So I guess like, referencing stylings and stuff like that, and liking similar stuff.
Jillian (SUEDE): Yeah definitely, and then that way it’s like they understand where you’re coming from.
Noa (SUEDE): But does it make it a little bit harder when you’re coming from a deep place?
Mark (TC): Well we’re very close and open with each other, so when we get deep that’s totally accepted and encouraged.
Mandi (SUEDE): That’s what I was kinda wondering, too, because in my case I could not open up to my brothers about anything like … deep going on in my life. I don’t really know how close family relationships work, so I didn’t know if that was weird or not.
Matte (TC): You should try opening up and see what happens.
Noa (SUEDE): That sounds so scary though, opening up?
Michael (TC): I guess the sister-brother relationship is a little bit different.
Matte (TC): Yeah, growing up like that [different genders] probably causes a bit of a divide. Like the boys are really into Barbies and the girls are into trucks.
Noa (SUEDE): So going back to your influences, do you think growing up in the LA scene has played a major role in your music?
Mark (TC): Not really, because all of our influences are from the eighties in Manchester. And we’ve never even been there! So there’s a slight disconnect geographically there.
Matte (TC): I wouldn’t attribute it to the location, I would say it’s more about what you surround yourself with. I remember being in eighth grade and high school, being with my friends playing a Talking Heads song — and I was like, “Whoa!” and got obsessed with them and they’ve always been one of my favorite artists since I was growing up. And that was just because, y’know, my friend was playing it. Not because I was in LA.
Mark (TC): I feel like the only way I could see LA being part of our influence is that certain people tend to live in LA and then you get influenced by their tastes and whatever they play.
Jillian (SUEDE): I remember in eighth grade listening to the Talking Heads because of Walk the Moon. They did a cover and what you said just made me think of that.
Mark (TC): That’s great! And also, that’s the point of our “In Memoriam” sessions, when we cover the artists that we love and do a throwback to all of the great artists that people might not know and can discover through us, like how you discovered the Talking Heads.
Noa (SUEDE): You guys should do a Ceremonies Sunday video for Psycho Killer.
Mark (TC): Not Ceremonies Sunday, but we’re bringing back the “In Memoriam” stuff. So you can expect to see definitely a couple more videos, probably this month and in January.
Nika (SUEDE): So are you guys excited for South by Southwest?
Mark (TC): I thought you were gonna say, “Are you guys excited for 11:13?” But yeah, South By is great! The last time we played we had a lot of fun. It’s a lot of run-and-gun type of stuff, it seems, and Austin becomes a madhouse.
Noa (SUEDE): Definitely, also I have another question. I guess we’re kinda wrapping it up, but what is 2017 gonna bring for The Ceremonies?
Matte (TC): 2017. It’s probably about to be the most active we’ve ever been. We’re gonna release a ton of songs, we’re gonna make brand new music videos and as many of them as possible, tour, we’re gonna go full out. We’re prepping as much as we can throughout the holidays and we’re going to use the month of December to bump a bunch of content so that we can start firing away!
Photo by Alex Kreye