Interview: Eastern Conference Champions

Eastern Conference Champions - Photo by Clay Patrick McBride

Eastern Conference Champions - Photo by Clay Patrick McBride

Eastern Conference Champions has spent the past week in a van, driving through Germany.

The California-based band (which initially formed in Pennsylvania in 2005) played Lido in Berlin last week, opening for the Get Up Kids on an extended tour of Europe to push its newest album, “SPEAK-AHH.”

“The crowds are just very receptive to us every time we’re here,” singer Joshua Ostrander said of German audiences.

With three EPs, a couple albums, and a spot on the “Twilight” soundtrack under its belt prior to the April release of “SPEAK-AHH,” the band – which also consists of drummer Greg Lyons and guitarist Melissa Dougherty – has already established a nice-sized following, particularly in its home country.

“In America it’s been great,” Ostrander said. “We’ve got a pretty good thing going on there where, you know, we just keep touring, pretty much.”

Ostrander said that he feels the combination of the band members – which has been in its current lineup for a couple years – is just right, and the decision-making process is easy because of their shared vision.

“Usually…we’re all on the same page,” he said of their democratic approach. “It’s very easy working the way we work.”

This approach is an extension of a choice the band made in 2009 to distance itself from the corporate music world. Divorcing itself from a major label, Eastern Conference Champions set out on the roughly-paved road of do-it-yourself music making. The band quickly found that complete control in every aspect was not only more fulfilling, but it relieved many pressures and limitations imposed by those outside of the trio.

In particular, Ostrander said the songwriting is now considerably more natural in how it transpires.

“We write songs pretty quickly,” he said, referring to the actual musical process.

However, the lyrics are something different. This is because as singer, writing lyrics is a solo endeavor for him, and he works hard not only to make them fit the songs, but to ensure that they’re meaningful.

“It takes so long to write lyrics and it’s such like, it’s an intense thing sometimes,” he said. “So I only write lyrics when I know a song’s gonna go through.”

For his part, Ostrander said he genuinely loves every aspect of the band, except for one thing.

“The photoshoots and shit like that. I don’t like doing that stuff,” he said. “It’s just like, not why I signed up for it, [but] I know you gotta do it.”

On a more abstract level, another struggle for the members is balancing their collective easygoing attitude with the actual music, which admittedly isn’t always so carefree.

“I don’t want the band to come across as too serious,” Ostrander said. “[But] I know sometimes the music doesn’t go with that, so it’s a fine, fine line.”

That balance between the two also speaks on a larger level to Ostrander’s experience in the band over the last more-than half a decade.

“I’ve kind of grown into a man while I was in this band,” he said, sharing that the members have been at his side through the monumental moments in his life. “The band is our family, you know? It’s a really cool thing we’ve got going on, where it’s like, we’re all in this together, we split everything equal, nobody gets more than anybody else, everybody works their asses off, you know? We’re driving, we don’t have roadies. We do it all ourselves.”

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