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Artist Spotlight: Time Thieves debuts summer pop album; talks finding their sound and spreading positivity

Chicago pop group Time Thieves has released their new album Space, out July 3. The band is comprised of members of other projects, but they come together to create something new and different as Time Thieves. Space promises to be a perfect addition to 2020’s summer soundtrack, with powerful melodies and sweeping choruses throughout. Atlas spoke with drummer Mike Oberlin via email about how the band formed, the story behind Space and getting to create with so many different people.

How did you guys come together as a band and how did you go about finding your sound?

Jonathan and I had been friends for a long time, and our bands had played together a bunch. He said he wanted to start a Rentals sounding band. I had no idea what that was but I said I wanted to be in a band where I chilled out on the drums, and I had been listening to a bunch of Grandaddy, so we started demoing the first song, Way. He had a friend that was helping with the songs which really gave us a boost early on, because it was just him and I for the longest time. Then fairly quickly, Annie, Tim and Lilly all agreed to join. As far as finding our sound, we didn’t do much exploring. We would write a song, demo it, then move on. Once we had all the members, we were able to add the layers that make up the album. In a lot of ways, we didn’t hear what the songs really sounded like until we got most of the recording done. The vocal layers and all the parts working together and all that.

When you’re thinking of your inspirations and influences, what names come to mind?

Granddaddy and The Rentals were the bands we used to open up a dialogue about sound. Since then, we’ve heard that we sound like those bands all the way to ELO. Which is fantastic.

What’s the story behind this new album? How did it all come together?

We recorded about half the songs with our friend Ryan Smith. Then another couple with our friend Jon Olson. They were “EPs”, and they sounded great, but really different from each other. Jonathan and I decided to write a couple more and re-record everything with yet another friend Joe Gac. He recorded everything but the vocals. Then we went down to Springfield to record with Luke McNeill  to finish it up, who also mixed and mastered it. Ryan Young got a hold of Jonathan after we finished and expressed interest. And here we are.

What do you hope fans take away from your music?

Any type of positivity. That is what we are about. It starts with the members. Annie has to come here from Washington every time we play. When we call her and tell her we have a show, she usually has travel plans made within a few days. It’s never a question of “if”, it’s always “how”. If you love something, do it. Go broke, that shit ain’t leaving with you.

We’ve been in quarantine/social distancing for awhile now. How have you guys been staying creative and productive and do you have any advice for people trying to do the same?

Lots of demoing, hanging out with our families. Learning new instruments. Covering Kate Bush songs. Trying NOT to start drinking before 2pm.

What do you guys have planned for the rest of the year and beyond? COVID has made it tough to make plans, but what do you hope happens for the rest of 2020?

I hope the vaccine doesn’t take too long. I hope some real change comes out of the Black Lives Matter and the Defund The Police movements. I hope we get this president out of office. I hope people have taken some time to themselves and have thought about who they want to be and what changes we can all make to push our society back in the right direction.

Do you plan to take this album out on the road?

Absolutely. Whatever form it may take.

Where do you hope this project takes you? Do you ever think about a master plan for Time Thieves?

It kinda comes from a place of already being there. Long gone are the days of “glory” and all that. I can’t speak for everyone, but this is something I have to do, it needs to come out. I love people; I love creating with other people. It’s a simple joy that I take seriously but try not to strangle with expectation.

Is there anything else you’d like people to know about you guys or is there anything you wish you could talk about more that you may not get asked?

No. We are just people who play music. We do better as people in person. 
Space is out now!

Story by Olivia Khiel
Image courtesy of Time Thieves