Indie rock is the name of the game for Chicago’s young Busy Bodies. But with the sophomore release “And Tell My Dog,” out today, the quintet balances an eclectic mix of influences, all perched atop a truly chill musical base.
Not surprising for a band whose members have been musically intertwined throughout their formative years.
Most of the musicians that became Busy Bodies have been playing together since their days at New Trier High School. Separated only by distance while attending different colleges, they reunited afterward and jumped right back into making music, bringing their new musical discoveries into the mix.
“We really loved playing music together in high school,” said Ben Baran. “And in college, we just always were sending demos back and forth.”
A little under two years ago, drummer Matt Donnelly of Geneva joined Baran, Michael Molitor, John Schmisek and True Markham as the final piece of the puzzle. About a year after meeting Molitor in a music class at DePaul, he was invited to come and see if he fit with the band.
“It just pretty rapidly evolved as soon as I got there,” Donnelly said. “I’d already learned one of their songs that I liked a lot, and just as soon as I showed up, I was like, ‘This feels right. This feels like a project that I’m really, really interested in.’”
It turns out the timing was everything for the band.
“I remember at one point while we were in that first practice,” Donnelly said, “John got a call and came back like ‘Hey, guys, we got that residency (at Uncommon Ground)!’ I was like, ‘Did I just get a sign? What did I just sign up for?’”
“From my perspective, it’s like a natural evolution of a million different bands,” Baran said. “For whatever reason, I was just always writing songs on my own. And then I joined this band who also had a songwriter. So then, I guess the idea from now on is it’s more a group project really. A group of friends’ songs that all hang out together, if you brought two people’s songs next to each other. What I thought was really interesting were the different flavors between their influences. It makes an interesting one in my mind, and it’s fun to play different roles within that collective.”
Busy Bodies’ new EP hearkens back to that mindset, stashing the members’ different influences like a collector and putting them on display in a variety of interesting ways.
The delicate jams of “Set You Off” sets the stage for the other songs on the four-track EP, but it by no means dictates the sound. “I’m Alive Again” steps up next with its joyful guitarwork. The title track, “And Tell My Dog,” tinkers with a more folksy-rock sound. And “Listening to the Radio” leaves listeners on an uptempo note, itching for more.
The songs all have an innate Busy Bodies-ness to them, but each lives in a world not constrained by genre.
“We always like how it seems to come out of some sort of artistic impulse and that seeds a bigger thing,” Baran said.
Busy Bodies’ new EP is available for streaming or purchase on most major outlets.