little image Interview

little image is your new favorite alt-indie act (even if you don’t know it yet). One listen to infectious new tunes such as “Out of My Mind” and “Blue” and, you, too, will be hooked!

The trio from Dallas, Texas is made up of members Jackson Simmons (vocals/guitar), Brandon Walters (bass/synth), and Troy Bruner (drums).

Nobody wanted a positive COVID test in 2020. The band did test positive for something good during those dark times; something other than Coronavirus. The guys tested positive for growth and expansion through self-reflection during the lockdown. And, as the world began to emerge from their homes as it became safe to do so, so too, did little image emerge, ready to re-introduce themselves to the world.

The Texas boys are coming to Cleveland on their tour with indie favorites, Colony House, for a show at House of Blues Cleveland on Saturday, March 4. {Complete show and ticket information}

The Cleveland gig comes a little over two months ahead of the band releasing their Hollywood Records debut, ‘Self-Titled,’ due out May 12. Fans coming out to the show won’t be completely in the dark in regards to what to expect. Videos for the tracks “Blue” and “Out of My Mind,” are already circulating the interwebs, so attendees can dance and sing along to these catchy tunes.

In a recent ZOOM interview with these up-and-comers, CleveRock had the opportunity to discuss their connection to Colony House, the songwriting process, and the upcoming tour.

As for getting selected to open for the fine folks in Colony House, Simmons noted:

“Troy actually met the Colony House guys in high school and grew a really good relationship with them over the years. He kind of brought us into hanging out with them and they’ve kind of just been like mentors and big brothers to us over the years,” he noted. “We actually co-wrote one of the songs on their record with Caleb from Colony House, which was super cool. That’s what I’m looking forward to most with this tour; just hangin’ with the boys!”

The talent shared between these three is inspiring and unbound; each being musically proficient enough to hop around and trade positions in the band.

“Yeah, it’s kinda like that with all of us. Brandon’s like the wizard of the three of us and he plays everything perfectly. It’s cool that we all three trust each other and play every instrument. We could all take a rotation onstage and everyone could do it,” Bruner revealed.

This interviewer was curious to see if the young men have attempted the same writing process as they did for their previous album (2017’s ‘Musings’) and asked what was different about the writing process for this album.

“The biggest thing was that we just started listening to a lot more music; totally different music. I think all of us are into different things, but yeah, that was like the biggest thing. We wanted to just make these big-sounding songs and kind of create this sonic thing that was new to us. We worked with this guy, Jeremy Latido, and he played a big part in kind of pushing us toward trying something new and fresh. Just making it feel… Big,” Simmons explained.

Diving deeper, little image seems to have a method to reduce the madness in their lives while writing, creating, and recording by using escapism. I asked them if they went on another hiatus to find the heart of the album.

Simmons answered “We actually rented this studio in the middle of ‘Nowhere,’ Texas; just in a small town called Cisco, and we just rented it out for like a week. It went so well, we actually went back again for another week. In the first week, we wrote ‘EGO,’ and then another song that’s on the album. In the second week, we wrote ‘WORTH IT.’ It was cool. Just getting away and having nothing else to do but work on music, I mean, it was this town that literally had nothing. It had this small grocery store and like, a little cafe. That’s about it. We were kinda just locked in there; just only working on music. I love getting away and going to write with the boys and kind of just finding a discipline in that.”

Bruner added “It was a good balance. It was both. It was like, ‘wilderness meets studio,’ which is kind of the dream.”

For little image, dreams began to blend with reality when getting the opportunity to tour with Panic! At the Disco in the fall of 2022. When asked about that prestigious touring spot, Simmons shared: “It was pretty terrifying. It was in an arena. We’ve played a lot of shows but we weren’t quite seasoned for an experience like that, you know? We almost didn’t get to play because all of our gear stopped working as we were sound checking and it was super hectic, but it’s memories like that, like, ‘Remember that time we almost didn’t play at our first arena gig because our gear wasn’t working?’ But, honestly, we just were kind of like, ‘We’re just gonna do our thing. It’s just another show. Let’s treat it like that and not overstress ourselves.’ Once we got up there, it was just like any other show. It was really cool. The size of the room faded away and everyone did their job perfectly.

Next, the guys were questioned about road life and touring. Do they feel like they lose themselves in the music and crowds? Or, do they find new things about themselves that change them as individuals forever?

Simmons thoughts:

“I mean, our whole thing is people. We just love meeting people. When you can take your music that you’ve spent so much time with, just the three of us, working so hard on it, and take it to connect with physical people in such a time where social media is the driver for most people’s relationships and any kind of friendships they have. When you can actually be in a room with people, I think that’s what I get out of it. I love just connecting with people in 2023; it seems crazy. The music is made to be able to get to connect with people. If we didn’t get to do that I don’t know where we would be. We love writing records and working on visuals and all that, but that’s all for the show.”

Really getting into the nitty gritty with little image’s song structure, Walters was able to enlighten me on just how intricate music can be and how small changes can make big differences, saying, “One of us will have an idea for a chorus or verses, or layout, or the structure of the song. The process is always different. I feel like now we’re kind of honed in on choruses.”

Walters chimed in, “We love a good bridge, though!”

Simmons then elaborates on their music style and how it differs from other modern groups, saying “Bridges are like the least 2020 version of a song. These days, with TikTok music, you get like 12 seconds and, if it doesn’t hit in 12 seconds, people move on. We try to find the balance. If you’re a true fan, you wanna experience the whole thing, rather than that 20-second clip online. If you get to the bridge, we just want to create the feeling that the world is getting bigger and bigger as you listen. For us, we would rather have that build-up to the end, and you see that in our show. It just gets crazier by the end of it. I feel like these days people are just trying to make a hit, and that’s a good thing. There’s nothing wrong with that. For us, our records really show a progression. I think that’s still needed in music. BIG TIME. Like on ‘WORTH IT,’ that crazy part in the bridge, that was never there. It was kind of just the intro, the verse, the chorus, then Brandon was like, ‘Guys, come listen to this, this is freaking weird, but check it out.’ And, we all freaked out!”

Walters added his two cents:

“I had listened to a song with that beat and I was like, ‘Troy, why don’t you just try this and see how you feel about it.’ And, it changed everything.”.

Music, of course, is a very personal experience for the listener and the artist who wrote and performs it.

Asking just how personal they get with each song, Simmons answered:

“Super personal. I feel like the most personal songs are dropping when the rest of the album comes out. At this point, it’s been like, ‘What do we feel is the best single?’ We’ll always kind of be an album band in that every album will most likely have the whole gambit of emotions. Those are actually my favorite songs, so I’m really really looking forward to releasing the record so that people can listen.”.

Knowing each member is open about their faith, I asked how each of them feels they are interpreted by their audiences, and if they are finding success in reaching different communities.

“I think the biggest thing was just trying to universalize; make it understandable to all people. Make it meaningful to a new group of people,” Simmons started. “We grew up, so we started seeing the world in different ways. I would say, for this record, we try to be a little more broad; leave it open for people to take it how they want it, you know?

Walters added, “Everything you make as an artist is a part of who you are, what you believe, and what you care about in life. So for us, that’s what art is and that’s what the record is; but also giving people the opportunity to feel. The biggest thing is, we want our music to be disarming; to let someone listen to the words and understand. They can feel something that we hope they feel to the music, but it could be totally different than what we set out to make them feel. That’s kind of the beauty of it. We really hope for that anytime we put out a song, you know? There’s always something really deep inside of us; inside of our hearts, but it goes beyond us, which is the cool version of what I think our music can do.”

Bruner continued, “We’ve written songs like, maybe to Jackson, personally, it was about something from his unique perspective. Then, when you talk to people, it shows that song means something so different to them. Who are we to rob them of that?”

Then, Simmons added something I had never heard before. A new perspective on how to differentiate personal interpretation and artistic interpretation, by sharing, “You almost don’t even wanna tell them, like, ‘Oh no, that’s not what it is!’ It’s your story, you know? A good friend of ours told us that the world release is a lot more powerful than we really think because when you release a song, you’re kind of letting go of what it means to you because it’s the world’s now. You can’t go robbing the meaning for someone else by trying to correct them on what it’s about. I find it really beautiful to hear people’s totally different perspectives on songs. It’s awesome.”.

Even in past music, the three members were hands-on in their pursuit of passion through creative visual expression in their music videos.

Every video just started with all of us in a room, just spitballing. That’s always the most fun part. You’ve already made the song and now you get to tag team how you’re going to visually depict it,” Walters explained. “So for us, it’s really fun! We’re not trying to figure out how to necessarily do it, we just get to kind of throw things at the wall. We’ve been able to keep the same team so they know what we want. They know our vibe. It’s a really good relationship.”

Simmons added, “Troy is a big visionary in that visual space.”

Troy jumped in and corrected him, noting, “We all are! It’s pretty even. We have a small team and even before we signed with a label, we just have these two guys who are very close to us and they’re both DPs and editors. I do a lot of video stuff myself, so we’ve all gotten to work together as a team. It’s not your classic music video where we’re just sitting there waiting to get told what to do. It’s pretty much just fun for all of us. Brandon has a great eye for seeing different shots. We just are all able to, as a team, make everything so much more fun.

Wrapping this interview was challenging due to how kind and willing each member was to answer my questions. Nice guys finish last? Perhaps there’s some truth to that. I have a hunch that little image will be the exception to that rule. These nice guys are going to find themselves ahead in the rat race that is the alt-rock world.

I concluded by asking what moments they are the most excited about on the upcoming tour.

Walters answered, “I’m looking forward to just playing music again… Because even writing, when we come together to write, that’s different. You’re not really experiencing the kind of chemistry that you do when you play music, because it’s mostly studio stuff. Touring is always a really fun thing for me because you’re just right back in it playing with your best friends. Experiencing that kind of musical chemistry that I don’t get to experience when we’re not touring… I’m looking forward to just being with the boys.” 

Finally, when asked where they were most excited to go, Bruner gave me an elated, “Cleveland!” (Brownie points will be awarded accordingly!)

little image will appear at House of Blues Cleveland on March 4 with Colony House. Complete show and ticket information can be found on our events calendar: RIGHT HERE!

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