Interview by: Makenzie Creden
Photos are taken from the band’s Instagram
Neptune’s Core is bringing young, bright energy to the Chicago music scene. Made up of two sets of teen sisters, the indie rock band has released two albums thus far, with more to come. Their latest album, Evolving, was released in October of 2021 and includes everything from ballads to bangers. The group is lined up to play Tomorrow Never Knows later this month.
This week we had the opportunity to chat with the lovely members of Neptune’s Core about their new album, being young women in the music scene, and their upcoming Tomorrow Never Know’s show.
Firstly, how did you meet?
Kaitlin (she/her) – Drums: In fourth grade, Sophie and I were in the same school. My sister had been playing music all her life, so eventually when we go to around 7th grade we were all kind of individually taking music lessons. Jackie and I were playing together since we live in the same house. They [Sophie and Hannah] are also sisters, so they were doing the same. So we decided eventually “why don’t we come together and play music together and form a band” We started playing some open mics, which is a great place to start, and we kind of just went from there.
I went to open mics in high school too. My whole social circle was from open mics, so that makes me so happy to hear. You said that you met in school. Do you remember you’re first impressions of each other?
Sophie (she/her) – Vocals, Guitar: I didn’t really see a musical connection until about a year after I met Kaitlin. I think she’s the reason why I ended up playing guitar. The band started as something like friends messing around and having fun, creating some songs. We did some covers and then started to write songs. The first song I wrote, I actually didn’t know how to play guitar at the time… So I came to the band with some weird melody and some weird, deep lyrics, and we built it from there. Jacquelin used her ear to kind of add chords, Kaitlin added some cool drum parts and stuff and yeah it was great.
That’s so special. So you’re friends (and sisters) first and bandmates second?
All: Yeah, definitely
Have your parents been supportive of the whole music endeavor?
Jackie (she/they) – Guitar, Vocals: Yeah, definitely. Our parents and their parents are both huge fans of music… Like our parents have been taking us to concerts since we were little, so music has been a big part of our lives. We started playing when we were young too. I started playing piano when I was 3, and then she [Kaitlin] started playing drums a little later… like at 8 or 9?
Kaitlin: Yeah, I was like 10 or 11.
Jackie: But yeah our parents have always been huge music lovers and are super, super supportive of the band.
Has your age presented you with any struggles? Whether that be not getting let into a venue, people talking down to you, etc.
Kaitlin: This happens after shows a lot, but people, especially older men, will come up to us like “Wow for a bunch of little girls you play really well, I wasn’t expecting that at all,” and it’s just this sorta backhanded compliment…. They don’t feel great.
And then obviously being under 21, it can be annoying when we’re not allowed to play venues that are 21 and older…. But Chicago has a really good circle of all-ages music venues that are supportive of younger bands. It just sucks when you find those few venues that aren’t.
It’s a bummer I’m sure. But it’s good to hear that there is a scene for younger artists. That’s so important.
Now about your music! What are some of your influences or favorite artists who inspire you?
Hannah (she/her) – Bass: We get a lot of influence from Chicago bands, like OHMME and DEHD. We have a lot of inspiration in the music scene that has helped guide us to where we are today, so we definitely got a lot of our sound from there and just like listening to them constantly. But I know that we all kind of have our own individual inspirations. I personally really like the bassist from No Doubt. Their basslines are really cool.
Jackie: For Sophie and I, like Hannah had mentioned OHMME earlier, but we get a lot of inspiration from their vocals. We try to incorporate a lot of harmonies in our songs and they do that as well, so we get a lot of inspiration from them. For guitar, I’d say The Nude Party or Calpurnia. It always has this kind of riffing over the rest of the song, but not where it’s too prominent that it covers everything else up. But it’s like super-smooth riffs, and I really like that.
Kaitlin: Personally I feel like my drum influences are kind of all over the place. In school, I play a lot of jazz music but I also play Latin music for this other program I’m in. The music I listen to is more like The Velvet Underground and the more indie stuff where the drummer can just control the whole feel of the band. It’s really interesting combining all aspects of music. We all have different tastes in music, but we can all come together and put that into a really nice song.
Lyrically, what would you say your favorite song off the new album is?
Sophie: I think Bring Back the Light is definitely up there because I’ve noticed that when I’m writing a song, and it’s about something emotional or something that’s a big deal to me and it’s kind of scary to write it, it ends up becoming a song with great lyrics to it. Lyrics have so much power and have so much emotion to them. I’ve found that when I sing it live, it’s hard to sing it. I tear up, I break down, my voice cracks… But it makes it a wonderful experience just to be able to put it out there and gives the lyrics so much more depth.
Jackie: I can relate to that with one of the songs I wrote: “Shot in the Heart.” I remember the first few times I played it I was petrified. I would make up random excuses not to play it. At shows if we wrote it on the setlist I’d be like “Oh it’s too cold, I can’t sing,” at outdoor shows. Like that makes no sense… I just didn’t want to play it because I felt so exposed the first time. But I realized that playing it live… I shouldn’t feel exposed by that. I know a lot of people can relate to that song and I think that’s really special.
Evolving, the new album, came out in October last year. Congrats on that! Was Evolving written primarily in quarantine?
Sophie: Not at all honestly! It’s crazy because some of the songs on there are songs we had down before our first album, Can’t Have it All. It’s a lot of songs that span about 4 years. It was released during quarantine, so you’d think that it was written mostly during quarantine. But the problem with quarantine is that yes, we had so much time on our hands to write music, but there was just overall a lack of inspiration because you’re just stuck at home all day and you don’t really want to write about being stuck at home because there’s nothing there and you’re lacking all these life experiences… So it was mainly written before quarantine, and quarantine just allowed us to nail our parts down, talk about the songs, book some studio time, and we made it work.
How have you evolved since the first album? Musically, personally, etc
Sophie: I feel like we’re at a time in our lives where a year makes a huge difference in terms of like, experiences. I feel like Can’t Have it All… we’re obviously proud of it. We put it out there it was great. But Evolving, I think just has much more depth to it and I got to a point where I was like “I don’t have to fear putting this vulnerability out there. I can be myself. I am who I am and I use the lyrics, use the melody as a creative outlet and that’s what makes the songs sound good.
Rapid-fire questions! Some favorite Chicago artists?
Hannah: V.V. Lightbody, OHMME…
Kaitlin: Twin Peaks, Dehd
Sophie: Liam Kazar
Hannah: Lala Lala
Sophie: So many.
Favorite venue to play at?:
Kaitlin: Schubas! The sound there was really, really good. Obviously, Tomorrow Never Knows is there, but when we played there recently it was super cool. Double Door! Just reopened, under construction. Amazing venue. Brilliant sound. It’s gorgeous!
Jackie: And Martyr’s has been super supportive. We did an interview there with Girls Supporting Girls… We’ve done a ton of stuff there, they’re super supportive.
Hannah: Along with City Winery. They’re so nice to us. I honestly felt spoiled playing there because not only is the venue beautiful, but there’s such great acoustics in there
Jackie: And their food is amazing.
Favorite albums from 2021?
Kaitlin: Macie Stewart had a release that was really great, so did Lunar Vacation. Liam Kazar had one.
Sophie: Liam Kazar – Due North, that was amazing.
That Macie Stewart release was great.
Sophie: Honestly it’s crazy because a lot of our favorite music just happens to be from Chicago. It’s not that we’re like in Chicago…. It’s just that there are so many amazing, supportive musicians here and we get a lot of inspiration from them.
Yeah! What are you looking forward to at your Tomorrow Never Knows gig with Girl K?
Jackie: We’re super excited. We’ve been to a few TNK shows before, so it’s super cool to be playing it. Especially at Schubas again, because we love playing there. And the artists we get to play with are amazing… Girl K, Emily Jane Powers, Burr Oak
Kaitlin: The fact that we’re playing the same festival where we went and saw bands like Snail Mail, Lala Lala, and Twin Peaks- Like, what? That’s crazy.
Sophie: Also, at TNK, we have vinyl and new shirts coming. Which is like, mind-blowing, like so exciting. They’re going to be for sale. Yeah, so just playing that venue, having new merch out… it’s going to be amazing.
Hannah: Jumping pretty far ahead, in the summer we’re going to be playing some sick festivals that I’m pumped about
What do you hope that people will take from listening to your music?
Sophie: One of the lines in Drowning is “Music is what gets me through this” and I feel like, for me, listening to music is like “Hey I’m not the only person experiencing what I experience.” I’m not alone here, people have put this into words and into music. I’m not alone.” So I hope that people listen to these songs, and see these specific experiences and they’re just like “Oh my god. This person understands me.” I don’t know… I hope it’s what gets them through the day and makes them realize they’re never alone.
Kaitlin: Another thing that’s great about being Neptune’s Core and being four women is that when we’re playing live, we’ve had some dads who heard us on the radio take their young daughters to see us, and their daughters will come up to us after the show and be like, “Hey, you guys were really cool. I’m going to start playing guitar now,” or, “Hey that was great. Female drummer? I want to be a female drummer too.” The aspect of female empowerment and musical connection makes it so worth it.
Jackie: Adding on to that, I remember when all of us were younger before we were in a band, we’d see live music and I remember just thinking “Oh my gosh it would be so cool if I could do that.” Even just listening to music. If I’m in a sad mood I either listen to sad music to make me feel like I’m not alone or happy music to get me in a better mindset. Everything, to me, with music, is so beneficial and helps me get through the day, so I hope our music and our live shows can do that for other people.
Hannah: Also knowing that music is there and is never going to leave is so reassuring. If I’m really stressed or having a horrible day I know I can put in my AirPods and listen to music and everything will automatically be better.
Be sure to check out Evolving on all major streaming platforms now, as well as catch Neptune’s Core opening for Girl K at Schubas on January 19th!