By Iliana Ramirez
Members of the Glasshealer band consists of Hayden Steckel (vocals and guitar), Ernesto Gray (vocals, guitar, and keys), Jared Marxuach (bass), and James Owens (drums). The four came together through random connections with one another, but connected when they began working together. Marxuach and Steckel knew each other through their girlfriends who were roommates. Marxuach knew Grey from previously playing in a band together as well as doing internships in Los Angeles. Although they all knew each other through one another, you could say it all really began when Grey reached out to Owens on social media. The two were attending Texas State at the time and Grey was looking for other musicians in the area to collaborate with. After Marxuach and Grey returned to the Austin area, they began experimenting with different instruments, testing what worked and what didn’t work.
The first time I saw the band play live was during KTSW’s Third Thursday event. Glasshealer was a band that stuck out to me because of how drawn everyone was to their set. I remember speaking with friends afterward, all amazed at how well their performance went. After getting to see them perform for a second time during a Studio C session, I knew that I had become a fan. I was super excited to be able to sit down with them at End of an Ear in Austin to discuss their new EP, Cranberry stream.
As the band waited for the multimedia team to set up their gear, we asked them to pick out some records that were influential or special to them in one way or another. When they all returned, they had chosen a large array of artists stemming from Black Midi, LCD Soundsystem, Stevie Wonder, and Can. As I saw each album they had picked, I could see how each record was so influential to their sound.
“I think what stands out is how long we take to set up at shows”, Marxuach jokingly said. “I don’t think there are a lot of bands in Austin that are trying to sound how we’re trying to sound”, he continued. “I think we’re just really ambitious. We’re trying things that we want to hear out of music. We listen to a lot of electronic music that is combined with the acoustics and we like that”, Owens says
You could say that the idea for Cranberry Stream had an early start as Steckel wrote the Empty Bottles riff in high school. The songwriting began in late 2018 and the recording began in the summer of 2019. Each member brought something different to the table with their experience as producers. The four would meet at Grey’s home studio and bring their individual ideas to one another. “One of us will show up with an idea for a song and then each song has a primary songwriter. There are elements of all of us baked into each song”, Marxuach said. With Marxuach working in a recording studio, they had several resources where they were able to mix, master, and produce things on their own.
When I asked the band if there was an underlying theme in the EP, they said they focused more on their sound as a theme. “I’d say the whole thing is pretty bold. There’s a lot of big instrumentation on each song. I don’t think that was even a plan. It just ended up happening”, Grey said. “We were really trying to make sure that we didn’t just make a rock song. There are rock songs on there, but none of them are standard. We made sure to put something weird or noisy or experimental in all of them”, Marxuach said.
Glasshealer is a band that is not afraid to experiment, and this is evident in the music that they put out. In a city where bands are forming left and right, they are working with their instruments in a way that many other bands aren’t. “I just want us to have music that we continually like to listen to and play”, Owens says of the band’s future.
Be sure to check out their debut EP, Cranberry Stream, available now on all streaming platforms!