Practice makes perfect as the cliché saying goes. But despite this over-used expression, Brooklyn-based band, ICEWATER, is living proof that this idealistic idiom is not at all far from the truth. 

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Although Michael Rosen and Malcolm Perkins of ICEWATER claim their band’s title has nothing to do with the temperature of almost freezing l’agua, you can’t help but feel that their sound is as crisp and clean as the first sip of water you drink on a scorching summer day (Fuck the brick oven heat we so crave for while we look out the window into the desolation of cold that is winter in NYC). With time and practice, ICEWATER has created a sound that is so effortlessly tight by featuring ideally placed beats, effects and Wurlitzer keyboard chords that croon alongside soaring vocals. Obviously, we indulged and put their first self-produced and self-released album, Collector’s Edition, on repeat because it’s just that good. Take a listen for yourself as you read our latest interview with the four dudes who make you want to feel forever dazed in the California sun sans the scorching NYC humidity. — MEGHAN FARNSWORTH

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SHK: WHY THE NAME ICEWATER?

MALCOLM: ICEWATER was something that our friend Grant wanted to name a band for years, and he didn’t find it until he found us. 

MICHAEL: ICEWATER was also a nice-sounding name. What’s interesting as well is that one of our favorite groups from the ‘70s, Big Star, began an off-shoot band called Icewater. We found that out after we started our band, which we thought was really cool.

HOW DID YOU GUYS MEET, AND HOW DID THE IDEA TO CREATE ICEWATER FORM?

MALCOLM: During school in Vermont, I met this kid named Todd von Ammon. He was playing me music his friends were creating, which included Grant and Michael. I met them through Tod while we were living in L.A. a long time ago. While in California, I talked to Grant about playing music together because we had heard each other’s stuff and seen each other a couple of times. Years later, we were all living together at the same house in New York City. One day, I just walked into his room and asked him if he wanted to start writing music together. He was like, “Yeah!” And that’s when we started writing. Michael was already there to join, so I thought, “Oh, we already have three people.” Then we became ICEWATER.

MALCOLM: We just spent a very long time making Collector’s Edition. I can assure you that the rest of our albums will take a lot less time. [Laughs] But this one for many reasons took a great deal of time, and I’m really glad that it did.

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WHY DO YOU SAY THAT IT WAS GOOD THING THAT THE ALBUM TOOK A LONG TIME?

MICHAEL: We set-up a studio in our basement and recorded it all ourselves. Bouncing off of each others’ schedules was tough as well.

MALCOLM: Also, we spent time playing music and enjoying it. In doing all of that, we also figured out what we were trying to do with our sound. That process just took a while.

MICHAEL: Yeah, we were trying to find a creative direction for ourselves.

MALCOLM: And we weren’t trying to rush anything either because the whole process was enjoyable and informative. That time helped us develop what we wanted to artistically say. Now, that idea is a little clearer, and the creative process goes quicker.

SO THEN, WERE THERE ANY ORIGINAL IDEAS FOR THE SOUND YOU GUYS WANTED PRIOR TO REACHING THE ARTISTIC POINT YOU’RE ALL AT NOW? IS YOUR CURRENT SOUND CLOSE TO OR FAR-OFF FROM WHAT YOU ALL WANTED IN THE BEGINNING?

MICHAEL: The sound is not far-off. Although our original sound was more grounded in American and Country music, especially with its country vocal harmonies, guitar lines and finger-picking, the music we’re creating now still sticks to that initial sentiment even if we add an electric guitar or an effect. It’s always hard to describe the genre you play, but if we were to take a stab at describing our sound, we would call it “American” or “Americana-psych-rock.” Even though we’ve added more psychedelic rock elements over time, the music has still maintained its initial American-Country music core.

WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR BIGGEST MUSICAL INFLUENCES THEN?

MALCOLM: In the beginning, we were listening to a lot of Townes Van Zandt among many others, like Gram Parsons, the Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brother, Emmylou Harris, Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield and Crosby, Stills and Nash. That’s all a good overarching way to describe the music we really love, and it all just extends from there because there’s just so much good music.

WHAT THEN WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE VIDEO FOR “I KNOW THAT DREAM?” WHY WAS IT IN A…FOREST?

MICHAEL: One of our friends, who’s a filmmaker, wanted to make a video so he could develop his reel. The concept was his idea. He liked the song and wanted to make a video for it. That video was shot before our drummer, Noah Hecht, was in the band.

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HOW DID YOUR DRUMMER, NOAH HECHT, COME INTO THE PICTURE?

MICHAEL: I knew Noah from school. We were both at Oberlin Conservatory. I was in the classical department while he was studying jazz. I just knew that he was a sick drummer. We knew he was about to graduate and were already looking for a drummer, so he was a perfect fit.

IN RETURNING TO YOUR GUYS’ BEGINNINGS, WHERE ARE YOU ALL FROM?

MICHAEL: Grant and I are both from San Francisco. My brother, Jonathan, just joined the band, and since he’s my brother, he’s also from SF.

MALCOLM: I’m from Charlottesville, Virginia, which is in Central VA. Noah is from Philadelphia.

MICHAEL: I guess now is an appropriate time to mention that our friend, Grant Martin, passed away in July 2013, which was right in the middle of making Collector’s Edition. Having that happen was such a big part of the entire process. Now, we have my brother in the band to take Grant’s place. Despite all of that tragedy, we are re-energized by releasing this album and realizing its future, and playing together in a new capacity with the addition of my brother is finally feeling really good now. We’re excited for the future. Our New York City album release show is February 1 at Baby’s Alright, where we’re playing with this band, TEEN. We’re so excited about that show. We also had a release show in SF with Eleanor Friedberger.

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NO WAY! WE JUST INTERVIEWED HER?!

MICHAEL: Malcolm, Noah and I are all members of her touring band.

HOW DID YOU GUYS GET INVOLVED WITH HER?

MALCOLM: We were playing with this girl, Cassandra Jenkins, when a mutual friend of Eleanor’s saw us play and recommended us to her. That all started in late February of last year, so it’s been almost a year since we began performing with Eleanor. So far, it’s been really fun.

Icewater “I Know That Dream” from Dennis Roberts.

WHY THE NAME COLLECTOR’S EDITION FOR YOUR FIRST ALBUM?

MALCOLM: That was also an idea that Grant had. It’s actually kinda funny because it’s such a pun.

MICHAEL: Then the name made a lot more sense after we released the album.

WHAT DOES EVERYONE DO IN THE BAND, AND DO THOSE ROLES EVER CHANGE?

MICHAEL: Malcolm is the singer, songwriter and guitar player. I play the keyboards. My brother, Jonathan, plays bass, and Noah plays the drums. Aside from Malcolm, we all sing some backup harmonies. Grant wrote two of the songs on Collector’s Edition, “Fabric” and “Sandbox,” so there was some joint-songwriting going on between Malcolm and Grant. However, now we’re finding our new process for the next album. Everyone in the group is very creative, like if Malcolm comes in with a song, we structure and build it together. My brother is actually a really good songwriter as well, so I imagine that we will also incorporate some of his work. It’s too early to say, but I guess we’re constantly redefining what that process is, album by album. Traditionally, though, Malcolm is the songwriter/guitarist, I’m the keyboardist, Noah plays the drums and my brother plays the bass.

MALCOLM: We’re also releasing some of our old songs featuring Michael, Grant and me on tape just to have that stuff out there. You know, it’s just nice to have the music Grant also created out in the public eye as well.

MICHAEL: We actually have a couple tracks that we couldn’t place on our current record because some stuff just wasn’t ready in time. However, we do have a great deal of material that we want to put out in some kind of way.

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HOW LONG HAVE YOU ALL BEEN OFFICIALLY ICEWATER?

MALCOLM: The three year anniversary of the first ICEWATER show will be in two days?!

REALLY?! WHERE DID THE FIRST SHOW TAKE PLACE?

MALCOLM: It was on the third floor of Michael’s house in Greenpoint. We just had two acoustic guitars — a twelve and six-string, and Michael played the Wurlitzer keyboard. People come to Michael’s house and hungout. The day was a nice warm December 18, 2010. We warmed everyone’s hearts.

ASIDE FROM NEW VIDEOS AND ALBUMS, WHAT DOES THE FUTURE LOOK LIKE FOR ICEWATER?

MALCOLM: The most we can say is that we are going to be playing shows that feature songs from Collector’s Edition and newer stuff that we’ll be writing. We’ll also be traveling, playing shows and making the next album.

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x ACCORDING TO MALCOLM x WHAT DOES ICEWATER BELIEVE WE SHOULD…

SEE: You should look at the cover of Collector’s Edition because it’s really important to look at the artwork on the cover of any album. You’ll see a nice little piece of art that Todd von Ammon and I worked on.

HEAR: Hopefully at any time, you’ll be listening to the sounds of the album.

 KNOW: The story, which can be communicated by looking and listening. Hopefully, you won’t have to only read this interview in order to understand what is happening. We anticipate that you will be able to understand the story through the audio.

x IF YOU LIKE ICEWATER, GO TO THEIR ALBUM RELEASE SHOW ALSO FEATURING THE BAND TEEN AT BABY’S ALRIGHT ON FEBRUARY 1 x

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