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Instead We Smile

An interview with Madison rock band, Instead We Smile

Madison's Instead We Smile CD: Earthly Stew
Record Label: Self Released
Artist's Facebook
by Mike Huberty
October 2016

Female-fronted rock with a Pat Benatar-vibe, Madison’s INSTEAD WE SMILE is vocalist Amanda Ikens, bassist Ed Feeny, guitarist Jeff Muendel, and drummer Tom Pier. They are debuting their first release, Earthly Stew at Chief’s Tavern on October 22nd. It’s a free show and people will be able to pick up vinyl copies of the new music!

MI: What kind of music did you all listen to growing up? AMANDA: Growing up I listened to pop music until I was about 13 years old. I was riding in my Dad’s truck and he put in Janis Joplin’s album, Pearl. I was instantly hooked. My father really influenced my music from then on. ZZ Top became a favorite. But then my tastes started to change a little when I started listening to John Prine, which just for the record was not influenced by my Dad. I actually purchased him some John Prine for Christmas one year, thinking I would inspire my Dad. But he just commented “what is this Willie Nelson bullshit?!” Suffice to say I kept that music for myself.

MI: Who are the artists that you guys connect on as a group? TOM: There are a lot of bands, but the common ones kinda fall into two categories - heavy and trippy. On the heavy side, we’ve got Black Sabbath, Bon Scott-era AC/DC, Motörhead, MC5, and probably The Who. On the trippy side, it’s Pink Floyd and Jefferson Airplane. And, of course, there’s Led Zeppelin - trippy, heavy, and everything in between.

MI: On your new release, what’s the track people should listen to for the first time? ED: We have a 3-song, 7-inch vinyl EP that just came out. It has two songs on side one and one longer song on side two. The first song on side one is called “You Want It”, a straight-up rocker. That’s a good place to start.

MI: What’s the inspiration behind the track? AMANDA: I use to play the bass guitar, and these lyrics came to me over 15 years ago. I plucked away at the bass and the words just started to flow. I was thinking about how women are viewed as objects and the words were born. This is this song’s second coming, as the band was playing the riff I pulled these lyrics out of retirement.

MI: What’s your band name mean? JEFF: Well, I guess I came up with the name. We didn’t want it to be either bland or overtly “metal” but we did want some subtle aggression to it. I suppose it’s along the lines of implied revenge…bad things happen to all of us. We could react, even react viciously, but instead we smile, at least for the moment, plotting our inevitable revenge.

MI: What’s the name of the new release? AMANDA: Earthly Stew is the name of our EP. It was inspired by a trip I took with a close friend to Patagonia Chile. A stop in Santiago on the way promised beauty with a stunning sunset to never forget! Followed by amazing treks through the mountains and sights that will last in my heart and mind forever. Jeff started playing a riff on his guitar that brought out memories of the trip, and “Earthy Stew” was born. It felt like the kind of memory you could eat, hence the name. No, I don’t think there’s a theme - it’s a little bit of this and a little bit of that. A little taste of what you can expect from INSTEAD WE SMILE.

MI: What’s been your favorite show so far? AMANDA: Our last show at the High Noon Saloon. We played “Earthly Stew”, I could really feel the song as I sang it, I could see the terrain! Someone came up to me after the show and said that the song gave them chills. There is no better compliment! I felt so alive!

MI: What’s your release show going to be like? Give us the nasty details! ED: People can expect catchy, original rock music played through Marshall amps, with big tight drums, my bass antics, and Amanda belting it out up front. JEFF: You get a female-fronted hard rock band, which you don’t see all that often. Ed is also a second soloist on bass guitar, which is our ace in the hole. It’s loud and pumping, but we’ll also break down into more psychedelic songs. That’s our balance. There’s a lot of energy and sweat. We’re not always polished, but go down swinging.


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