We Became Owls
Andrew Blair (Vocals, guitar), Ross Warner (mandolin, accordion, harmonica, lap steel guitar, electric guitar), Doug Keen (upright bass), Kelly McFarling (vocals, banjo), and Kyle Caprista (drums).
Alt-Americana from Oakland. Releases to date include We Became Owls (2013) and There Are Other Animals At The Zoo (2015).
We Became Owls is an Alternative Americana band from Oakland, CA. Songwriter Andrew Blair and multi-instrumentalist Ross Warner began creating, writing, and composing music together in middle school. Influenced by the sound of Greenwich Village in the 60's, the Texas of Van Zandt and Earl, and more contemporary acts like Wilco, Damien Jurado, Drive by Truckers, and Jeff Buckley, We Became Owls recalls a sound heard in the jukes, front porches, barns, and hillsides of a long forgotten era.
The earliest iteration of the band was Blair and Warner performing as a duo, playing and singing songs written by Blair. The duo performed around the Bay Area gaining a small loyal following of music fans wanting to hear simple, heartfelt lyrics sung in harmony over tight guitar work. "Ross and I met while I was in middle school," Blair recalls. "My older sisters would pick him up while he was walking home from school and bring him over to our house. We were both starting to learn guitar at that time so we would practice and sing together. After college we got back together and performed as a duo, then we added a cellist, Robin Ward, then she moved outta town and we added Sigal Sahar on upright bass, and Katie Schlesinger on all kinds of instruments, piano, mandolin, and harmonies. Then Sigal left and Katie concentrated on her own music and now we have Doug Keen playing bass, who I found via Craigslist actually, Kelly McFarling on banjo and harmonies when she is available, and Kyle Caprista on drums."
"Ross and Doug have a significantly more in depth knowledge of music than I do," he continues, "so they bring a lot to the table as far as musical creation and such. Kelly has an incredible voice and helps a lot out with harmony arrangements as does Kyle Caprista."
When asked what his influences are, Blair becomes reflective. "That really is a tough question but the obvious ones for me are Bob Dylan, The Band, Steve Earl, Townes Van Zandt, Jeff Buckley, Wilco, Damien Jurado, My Morning Jacket, M. Ward. In terms of our sound, it's a little bit of all the things I just mentioned. Americana, indie-folk, alt country, singer songwriter, are all terms that get used I think, most of them fit, but not perfectly, I think we have songs that fit neatly into country music, but also songs that don;t really fit a genre I suppose. It's all rock and roll."
And how has that sound developed since the band's inception? "When we began," he explains, "it was pretty much a duo with Ross and I playing more folky songs, singer-songwriter kind of stuff. Now we have a full band and don't mind cranking things a bit."
While their journey is just beginning, it's one that has provided a host of memorable moments to date. "Playing to a full Chapel in SF and releasing our most recent EP feels pretty great. As for our weakest moment? All the gigs we've played where either nobody is listening or nobody is there. Ha." Given the rise of the band so far, it doesn't sound like the latter is going to be much of a problem in the future ...