THE FAMILY CREST

EPK

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“Seeing is believing. Liam McCormick is a knockout singer, you simply must hear him live.... There's a decent chance you're about to discover your favorite new band.
- Bob Boilen, NPR host of ‘All Songs Considered’

 

BIOGRAPHY


The Family Crest has already earned widespread national applause for their extraordinary orchestral pop ambition but with THE WAR, the San Francisco-based collective makes their boldest, most fully articulated musical statement thus far. The second installment of what promises to be an epic musical saga, THE WAR: ACT I represents “the next version of The Family Crest,” says frontman-founder Liam McCormick and indeed, the album reveals a band more in tune with its own large-scale Baroque eclecticism.


Songs like “Take Tonight” and “It Keeps Us Dancing” wed a remarkable span of sonic influences – from ’70s groove to synth-pop, Afro-Cuban soul to California jazz, glam rock, and anything else that might suit the greater goal – to create a cohesive, utterly original sound and vision all its own. Preceded in early 2017 by the PRELUDE TO WAR EP, the new album marks the first act of a greater multi-tiered project, a kind of serial concept album with a pronounced thematic arc that weaves ideas of pride and memory, dissonance, and divergence, into a purposefully ambiguous but undeniably unified whole.

“THE WAR is ultimately about conflict,” says McCormick. “The battles we go through every day, the trauma we reference from various situations in our lives that inform the decisions we make. It’s about the complexity of human nature, how we’re all equally capable of doing wonderful things and terrible things. It’s about the control that those battles have over us as we move through our lives.”

The seeds of THE WAR were first planted in 2009, even as McCormick and co-founder/bassist John Seeterlin began work on The Family Crest’s earliest studio recordings.

“In a weird way,” he says, “THE WAR has existed for the entirety of the band. It’s been in my head for so long. It’s almost been like a goal – something we’ve been looking at and hoping we could actually do.”

The Family Crest officially embarked on its journey with 2010’s SONGS FROM THE VALLEY BELOW EP, followed in 2012 by the Kickstarter-funded THE VILLAGE. The “exponentially more complex” BENEATH THE BRINE proved the next iteration of McCormick’s increasing compositional skills, earning acclaim for its expansive pop soundscapes and ever more moving songcraft. All the while, McCormick continued writing THE WAR, its gradual development allowing the piece to be formed “in a more complex way,” he says. Recording officially commenced in 2014 with basic tracks to be slowly nurtured and built upon.

“We always start with guitar, bass, drums,” McCormick says, “and then begin orchestrating it bit by bit.”

From its start, The Family Crest’s audacious approach has been matched by an even bolder vision of musical community, with the seven-piece core of the band augmented by members of the “Extended Family” – some 400 friends and fans each contributing whatever musical element they can. BRINE featured musicians recorded up and down the west coast, but after years of touring, The Family Crest had developed both a national fan following as well as an increasingly long list of musicians who wanted to join the Family. As they began THE WAR: ACT I, McCormick and Seeterlin decided to include more of the Extended Family than ever before.

“Our rule is if anybody wants to play on our record,” McCormick says, “we’re going to find a place for them if we can. There are 150 people playing on THE WAR: ACT I, people of all different skill levels, but they each have something invested in the project. It’s become a way of meeting these wonderful people and giving them an opportunity. Giving people the chance to make music.”

In 2015, McCormick and Seeterlin hit the road with longtime video collaborator Keith Lancaster, recording contributions from over 90 different Extended Family members – spanning bassoon to backing vocals – in living rooms, basements (and recording studios) across the United States largely on their own self-constructed rig.

“We just like making music with people,” McCormick says. “It was extremely exhausting but also extremely rewarding.”

McCormick and The Family Crest are not unaware of the striking irony of THE WAR, finding it rather fitting that diverse Americans from across the country have come together to create a work with themes of civil discord at its very core. Having worked on its songs for nearly seven years, McCormick finally completed much of THE WAR’s first three chapters during the 2016 election and the months that followed. Unsurprisingly, those epochal events “seeped into the consciousness of this record.” Further inspiration came from daily runs through San Francisco’s historic Presidio district, studying about the civil war and considering his own experiences as a half-Irish, half-Chinese-American “growing up in a largely white community as one of the only people of color in my sphere.”

“We did not expect to be releasing THE WAR: ACT I at a time where its themes were so relevant,” McCormick says. “The bottom line is we are all informed on a very unconscious level by the things around us. So if you wrote lyrics in the last two years – and have a conscience – there’s no way that at least part of those lyrics aren’t informed by what’s happened.”

On their face, songs like “Waiting Still” and “Never Gonna Stop” might seem more intensely personal than overtly political but make no mistake, THE WAR: ACT I is the most defiantly radical music the band has made thus far. While acknowledging its narrative links, McCormick is still loath to be too explicit regarding THE WAR’s interconnected themes and how those themes relate to future works. Rather, he prefers listeners perceive the tale on their own or perhaps not at all, another affirmation of the collaborative relationship between The Family Crest and its growing audience.

“There is a story,” McCormick says. “But knowing it is going to affect the way you listen to the record. I want people to have the option to create their own experience. That’s your own version of THE WAR.” The Family Crest has been marching inexorably towards THE WAR from its very beginning. The long-gestating project is now fully underway, with much of THE WAR Act II already tracked and future installments current being written and recorded. While such an enormous operation would be daunting for most bands, The Family Crest was born to do battle with THE WAR.

“There’s always a new element of challenge to everything this band does,” Liam McCormick says. “We’ve always thrust ourselves into projects that to some degree, we weren’t fully ready for.”

 

 

MUSIC

The Family Crest pulls influences from the likes of ’70s groove to synth-pop, Afro-Cuban soul to California jazz, glam rock, classical orchestral music and anything else that might suit the greater goal – to create a cohesive, utterly original sound and vision all its own.

 
 
 
 

 

PHOTOS

 
 

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VIDEOS 

 

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PRESS 

 

PASTE

“A sound so big, it feels like it could collapse in on itself at any moment to form a black hole… One thing is certain: These guys are just as explosive as ever, and these songs are going to bring the house down in a live setting.”
- Jim Vorel, Paste

Premiers/Reviews
Never Gonna Stop (2018)The War: Act I (2018)It Keeps Us Dancing (2017)
Prelude to War (2017)Sparks (2017)Love Don’t Go (2013)

Interviews/Artist Profiles
Day in the Life (2018)

Live Sessions
Paste Studios, NYC (2017) • River Bungalow, TX (2015)
Paste Parlour, CMJ (2014)

NPR

“Seeing is believing. Liam McCormick is a knockout singer, you simply must hear him live.... There's a decent chance you're about to discover your favorite new band.
- Bob Boilen, NPR host of ‘All Songs Considered’

Accolades/Lists
New Mix (2017)SXSW Austin 100 (2015)All Songs Considered (2014)
New Mix (2014)Weekly Rainbows (2014)

Premires/Reviews
The Word (2014)Mirror Love (2017)

Interviews/Artist Profiles
Weekend Edition (2014)

Live Sessions
Tiny Desk (2014)

 

SPIN

“…a masterfully arranged epic… sharp strings, galloping percussion, and an ambition wide enough to swallow you whole”
- Kyle McGovern, Spin

Premires/Reviews
The Word (2014)The Headwinds (2013)

HEAR & NOW MEDIA

“…one of the most powerful singing voices I've seen live in a long time.”
- Mark Sheperd Tillman, Hear & Now Media

Live Reviews
Valley Bar, Phoenix (2015)

 

BILLBOARD MAGAZINE

Premires/Reviews
Never Gonna Stop (2018)

EARMILK

“The Family Crest deliver complex arrangements with such confidence that each varying sound produced is done with effortless intent and is never perceived as an afterthought… a stunning explosion of color & emotion and just another reason why I'm continually captivated by this group.”
- David Sikorski, EarMilk

Premires/Reviews
Take Tonight (2018)

 

THE BAY BRIDGED

"One gets the feeling that this album is something special, something that will have a larger life than could have been imagined by its writers. As a final word, it's worth mentioning that the crowd last Thursday night was a veritable who's who of local musicians. When bands command the respect of their peers, there is something very right going on."
- Annie Bacon, The Bay Bridged

Premieres/Reviews
The Mighty Echo (2018)Beneath the Brine (2014)

Interviews/Artist Profiles
The Independent (2015)31 Shows in 31 Days (2011)

Live Reviews
Great American Music Hall (2018)

RIFF MAGAZINE

“…an ambitious musical odyssey, this LP overflows with jubilant bombast and inviting relatableness.”
-
Max Heilman, Riff Magazine

Premires/Reviews
The War (2018)Prelude to War (2017)

Interviews/Artist Profiles
Prelude to War (2017)

 

POP MATTERS

“…a robust and alluring collage of symphonic vibrancy. The War: Act I is another triumph for the Family Crest, showcasing once again why they equal—if not outdo—just about every one of their stylistic peers.” 
- Jordan Blum, Pop Matters

Premiers/Reviews
The War: Act I (2018)

BALANCED BREAKFAST

“My jaw was on the floor in amazement, my body was filled with joy, and my brain was overwhelmed”
- Stefan Aronsen, Balanced Breakfast

Live Reviews
The Great American Music Hall (2018)

 

DAYTROTTER

Live Sessions
Rock Island, IL (2015)

WIRED MAGAZINE

Live Sessions
Lyft Session, SF (2015)

 

SF EXAMINER

Interviews/Artist Profiles
Stern Grove (2012)

FALLS CHURCH NEWS PRESS

“…one of the boldest productions in recent rock memory.”
- Matt Delaney

Interviews/Artist Profiles
National Tour (2017)

 
 

 

 SYNCS

TELEVISION

ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy • “Kiss On My List” (Hall and Oates cover)
ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy • “Happy” (Pharrell Williams cover)
ABC’s Revenge • “The Headwinds”
ABC’s Rising Star • “Beneath the Brine”
NBC’s Awake • “North”
NBC’s Marry Me • “Marry Me”
Netflix’s Peabody and Sherman • “Only a Minute” (Composed for Peabody and Sherman)

FILM

Netflix’s Valley Uprising • “Beneath the Brine”
Sugar Mountain • “Love Don’t Go”

COMMERCIAL

Carnival Cruise Line • “The World”
GoPro • “Make Me a Boat”
GoPro • “Love Don’t Go”
Coachella • “Beneath the Brine”