A Conversation with Spacebones

Photo by Emma Zanger

by Anais Turiello

Spacebones is a different kind of DIY band. 

The group, consisting of Tyrone Reed, Patrick Hubbard, Steven O’Toole, Robert Rashid and Loyola alumnus David Gates, has transformed their Chicago home into one of the most recognizable DIY venues known to those acquainted with the scene.

The space, located in Humboldt Park, goes by the name Hungry City and has been intentionally designed to be a place full of acceptance, love and safety – with no exceptions. Not only has the band provided both creators and appreciators of art with a creative haven, they also add their own fresh and exciting contribution to the scene by being musicians themselves, playing just as many shows as they host.

Spacebones’ energizing sound is saturated with a magnetic force and vitalizing passion, capable of compelling even the most introverted spectator to get up and dance. With raspy vocals accompanied by head-banging rhythms, the group is putting their own twist on rock n’roll. While their sound is at times raw and draped with passion, they pulse through any given crowd with a playful ebullience. “Monsoons,” the group’s latest single, was released on Sept. 20 of this year, and they are set to play their single release show on Sept. 28 at Nude Beach. Their new EP, “Boy Am I Glad To See You,” is set to release on Oct. 5.

Photo by Emma Zanger

Anais Turiello: Do you guys want to introduce yourselves? 

David Gates: [Speaking for Reed] Sure, I’ll start off. I’m Tyrone Reed, and I play lead guitar. I am currently smoking a cigarette outside so I’m missing out on the introductions, but I’ll be back in a minute.

Robert Rashid: My name’s Robert Rashid, and I’m the drummer. I also do vocals and a lot of the recording and engineering as well. 

Patrick Hubbard: I’m Patrick Hubbard, and I play the keyboard for Spacebones. I sing sometimes and sometimes write harmonies. 

DG: Okay, and I’m also David Gates. I sing and play guitar, live with Robert and write a lot of music. Thanks for having us!

AT: How did you guys meet, and how did the band come to be? 

DG: Go ahead, Robbie. 

RR: I moved back to Chicago after a jaunt across the United States doing various things.

DG: What were you doing? It’s super interesting.

RR: I was playing minor league baseball. It’s not the most interesting thing in the world, but I moved back to Chicago after doing that, and I was really wanting to play some music. I was fresh back here though and didn’t know that many musicians, so I used to bring my drums out to play on the streets. I would Uber, but I didn’t want to pay too much so I would Uber pool with my entire drum set. It was chaos and everyone hated me. I would set up on Michigan Avenue and play as loud as possible next to the cultural center. It would echo all the way down and cops would stop me all the time, but it was super fun and I loved doing it. So, one time I’m playing drums and all of the sudden this guy drives by in a truck and rolls down the window and goes, “Yo, dude! Do you want to play a show tonight?” I don’t know this person at all – it’s a complete stranger. David Gates. 

AT: Okay, yeah, that’s magical. 

RR: I just told him I was down, and he gets all excited and loops the car around. David hops out of the car, and we throw the drums in the trunk of the pickup and go to play the show. 

DG: I thought you would kill me. He was just this guy drumming alone, smiling, and I could hear him on the other end of Michigan Avenue. He was killing it though. So, we just drove to Logan Square and this girl wanted to throw a party and have it be a big DIY event and needed bands. We didn’t have a legal place to play, so we broke into this vacant apartment on the third floor and threw the show there. We rehearsed for an hour and sent something out online, and no one showed up that night. 

AT: Not a single person? 

RR: A couple people showed up, and we had a bonfire. 

DG: Later, we set up a show and really promoted it for that Saturday night, and it was packed. It was a super fun show. 

AT: How long ago was this? 

RR: Two years ago, so 2017. 

DG: So, that was how we met, and then I met Steve, the bassist, at work. It’s not a super sexy story; he was just wearing skinny jeans, and I was like, “That dude plays the bass.” Then, put out an ad on Craigslist for a guitarist and Tyrone was the first and only person to respond.

Tyrone Reed: [Has re-entered and is now present] Oh yeah, the humble beginning. I was just looking for bands and had tons of auditions. They just never got back to me, and I was just really depressed at that time. Then I found these guys on Craigslist and, at first, didn’t think that it was really going to work out.

DG: Great mindset!

TR: Well, they got back to me and told me to meet them at Mo’s. I thought they were really cool guys. So, long story short, they brought me to their rehearsal spot at Mixed Kitchen downtown, and the rest is history. 

AT: Super cool! What about you, Patrick? 

PH: Well, to start off, I’ve played music my whole life but never really wanted to do anything special with it. I took piano lessons when I was four years old. I moved to the city a year ago, though, just to do something cool and try to find work. Joining a band was the last thing on my mind, but as I was looking for apartments, I found an ad on Craigslist, and they [David and Robert] were just looking for a roommate. I met up with them and we talked for a bit, and I mentioned at the end of the conversation that I play music, too. They asked me to join the band, and I just said sure. 

DG: What the fuck!? I didn’t know that none of you guys even liked us!

AT: The truth comes out!

DG: Thanks, Loyola!

TR: I think we had an ad out for a keyboardist at the same time. 

PH: Must’ve missed that one! But a week later, I found another place, but David said they still needed a keys player, so I thought I’d just see what happens. After that, it’s just been uphill. I’ve met so many cool people through this music scene. It’s been a great experience from there.

AT: I’m glad you all are definitely more into it now. Do you want to talk about the origin of the name?

RR: David, you should probably take this one. 

DG: My mom has been on my ass about this! 

AT: Just send her this interview!

DG: I guess I could. Well, we all had just agreed on it. 

RR: It was David’s idea.

DG: Well, bones are the closest thing to you and the most dense and important part of your being, I think. It’s your structure. And space is the furthest thing away from you and the opposite of what you have inside of you. So, just bridging the gap between that sonically or just in any way artistically. I also think that conveniently comes through in our music because we all listen to different genres of music.

PH: I agree. Very different.

AT: What does that mean or look like, exactly? 

DG: I mean you [Tyrone] were kind of a metalhead, right?

TR: Metal, blues, hard rock. That’s pretty much mine.

PH: I’m the biggest nerd of the band. I grew up with jazz and classical. That’s about all I played. I always kind of liked rock, but it never took over until recently when I joined this band.

TR: He can play full Beethoven during our rehearsals. 

DG: Now, we’ve explored the theme of “beyond Earth” in terms of our imagery and as far as that shit goes.

AT: That really makes sense with the name. I think that’s really cool. I want to talk about Hungry City though. It’s recently been named under “DODIY International Listing of Art Spaces.” Could you talk about that and explain what Hungry City actually is, for those who maybe don’t know?

DG: Sure. Hungry City has been the backbone of our project. It’s this house that we are standing in and living in. The five people in the band, whoever is here, run the shows. We just moved into this space and thought we should throw shows in here because it’s awesome. It used to be a recording studio called Strobe Recordings for 15 years, so each of the rooms are isolated sound areas. So, now that it’s Hungry City, we just want to provide a space for artists to do their thing. It’s kind of weird trying to book shows at bars and clubs around here. It’s doable, but we found it’s just more fun when you play a DIY space. I don’t know why, probably because people can do whatever they want. It’s all ages; we try and do 18 and over for most of the shows. It’s always packed, though, and people are really paying attention to the music.

PH: Chicago is known for having a great DIY scene, too.

AT: Exactly! I’ve always loved it. 

DG: Shoutout to all of the great DIY spaces that were here before us, too. Palmer House really set the tone. They’ve kind of gone for more electronic shows recently. But, yeah, the big ones would be Palmer House, Nude Beach, Charm School, Litterbox. 

AT: I love going to all of those places. They’re literally so much fun and just overall cool spaces. I’m interested to know about the name of Hungry City, though. How did that come about, or just what does it mean exactly? 

DG: That was just about having an appetite for production and for every type of art. Making music and making visuals. We want to support artists who aren’t just into music. So, most shows we just invite artists to post their work and sell their art. We’ve had a girl do ceramics. 

PH: At one point our friend Spencer [Rhoades] did tattoos during the show!  

AT: That’s dope! I love his work. I’ve been meaning to get a tattoo from him.

DG: Yeah, so just basically being “hungry” for art in all of its forms.

AT: So, you’ve definitely hosted and also performed with a lot of Chicago artists. Are there any favorites of yours either to watch play or to play with? 

PH: I really love The Mild West. I love their energy and enthusiasm. It’s unlike any band I’ve seen so far. They’re so welcoming and over-the-top friendly, which I really admire. So, that’s my shoutout. 

TR: I love Vision in the Rhythm. Great band, and I love their energy. Um, Laughing Hearts. They’re kind of like our brother band now. I’m probably going to steal David’s choice too, but Ex Okays.

AT: I keep hearing that name but I’ve never seen them live. 

DG: We’re playing with them on September 28 at Nude Beach, if you want to come see that. Also, a new band that’s just starting up is Lenny. They’re also playing with us at that show. It’s a three-piece and Taylor is the front, and she has a voice like the girl from the Cranberries. 

RR: I would say one of my favorite bands in Chicago is actually Alex White from White Mystery. We’re working on a show with them right now. They’ve played a thousand shows together and have toured all over the world. I became friends with her through Soho House, actually. She actually was the president of the Midwest Grammy Academy. She’s just super cool and her and her brother started this band, and they’ve just been playing all the time. 

AT: I’ll definitely have to check them out. So, your single “Monsoons” drops on the 20th, and the single release show is on the 28th. Could you talk about the process of making that as well as your upcoming EP, which you’ve said is already done? Maybe just tell us how it’s different from your previous music? 

RR: The whole EP was recorded here [Hungry City], which is the first time we’ve actually used this space for recording. It’s actually mixed by a family friend of mine who is a fantastic mixing engineer who lives in Los Angeles and has worked with Muse, The Killers, and Of Monsters and Men. Just all of these cool bands. We’ve been friends with him for a long time; he’s great. Then, we got it mastered by a guy who works for Capitol Studios. So, it’s really cool and sounds a lot different than our first album. I think it’s powerful, but sweet and sensitive as well. 

AT: How long have you been working on the EP?

DG: Seven months. Around the end of winter. 

PH: It was before I even joined the band. I joined the band in January of this year so you guys have already finished a couple songs. 

AT: Wow, so it hasn’t even been that long! Another thing I wanted to talk about is the emphasis you guys have put on creating safe and all-inclusive spaces. Could you explain what that means to you guys and what that looks like?

DG: Sure! I’m a white male in my mid-twenties, and it’s easy and safe for me wherever I go. So, over the past twenty or some years, we’ve realized it’s not like that for everyone else. As far as Hungry City goes, we’ve definitely kicked assholes out of this place. It hasn’t happened too many times, and we’re polite about it, but we try to keep an eye on everyone, and everyone has been really good about that.

AT: Yeah, sometimes shows can get a little scary or iffy, so I think it’s really important that you guys make it a priority to have a safe space.

RR: Definitely. That’s the number one thing every venue needs to do. 

PH: You want the scene to be known for safety and not for bad experiences. 

RR: Exactly. One bad experience could ruin the space.

PH: Yeah, and then the whole scene gets the stigma, so everyone needs to participate. 

DG: I always used to figure that the scene was safe for everyone because I see hipsters as kind and quiet kids with their arms crossed who are passive and cool with everything and just accepting of everyone, but over time I’ve seen that that’s not the case sometimes. 

AT: Yeah, I agree. It’s definitely something that needs to be put to an end so I’m really glad to see you guys doing something about it. Also, I know you guys are going on tour in a couple months. Could you give us the details on that? 

RR: We’re doing a West Coast tour! We’re taking a van and driving down the coast. 

AT: So, it starts in November. How long is the tour? 

DG: About three weeks. 

AT: What city are you all most excited for? 

DG & PH: Portland. 

TR: Seattle for me. I just love the geography, like the woods and the mountains. 

AT: Seattle is one of my favorite cities. A lot of great musicians came out of there, too. 

RR: For me, it’s probably one of our LA shows. The reason being is the artists that we’re playing with. Eva B. Ross and Henry Hall are performing with us.

AT: Sounds like a lot of fun! I’ll have to check them out. I think that about covers all the things I want to talk about, so do you guys have any farewell messages?

DG: Go Ramblers! 

RR: Anything is popsicle. 

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