As I made my way through security at the entrance of Lincoln Hall (RIP to my pepper spray), I expected to encounter the typical indie rock crowd: high schoolers, couples more focused on making out with each other than the music, stoners, vapers and some genuine fans in their 20s. It’s not hard to imagine, then, why I was so surprised to enter the hall and disappear into a majority over-35 crowd.
The demographic of the crowd proved fortunate in Lincoln Hall, which is standing room only. Older crowds generally have better pit etiquette, tend to respect venue rules more and leave more space between fans so it doesn’t feel so suffocating. In the pit, the crowd can mean everything to the concert experience, and I was not disappointed. Despite the show being sold out, there was plenty of room to breathe, and more importantly, dance.
Jason Singer, singer-songwriter of indie band Michigander, belted lyrics and threw guitar picks on April 14, following an opening performance by indie artist Abby Holliday. While I wasn’t lucky enough to catch a pick, I did have the fortune of interviewing Singer over the phone just days before his show in Chicago, a city he called his second home. Singer talked about his home state, his new EP and the future of Michigander as the band enters its seventh year since its first original release.
How did you get Michigander started? What inspired you to full-send a band?
Well, all my friends were going to college and I didn’t want to go to college because I was pretty bad at school in general. So I decided to do the thing I thought I was good at, and that happened to be music.
So if you hadn’t done Michigander, did you have a backup plan, or did you put all your faith into this?
Yeah, all the eggs in one basket. And luckily, it's finally starting to maybe look up a little bit.
What did it feel like to release your first song, “Nineties”?
I wasn't really sure what was gonna happen with that. It seems like so long ago now that I just thought, “Oh, I'm really proud of the song. Hopefully some people hear it.” And luckily, I got some attention early on – luck of the draw, I guess. Spotify and other streaming things, and people seem to dig it. But it felt really good because I was a band for so long before I put out something. And so that was like the first release, and I'm glad I waited long to do it the right way. I don't even know if it's possible to do it that way anymore. But when I was starting out, I think that was a pretty good move, in hindsight.
What are some of your biggest musical influences?
I really have always liked bands who were playing big arenas and stadiums, so bands like Oasis, U2, Coldplay. When I first started making music, that was the only kind of stuff I listened to, and I’m really drawn to that sound, that big stadium rock sound. When I was first making music, I was always thinking in that headspace, like, “How do I make songs that would work in that environment?”
Do you plan on maintaining that pop-rock, stadium rock sound? Or do you think you might eventually explore other genres or other sounds in your future work?
I think I'll definitely change the sound eventually, but when that is, I'm not really sure. But I think that’s something I'm always thinking about. The next thing and the next move is always something I'm trying to figure out. And I can already sense myself wanting to try something new, while trying to stay true to who I am and what I've made so far – that will be a real challenge.
So what was the main inspiration for your latest EP It Will Never Be The Same?
Yeah, so that record was born out of the weird post-pandemic times, when we're trying to figure out how to reconnect with the world. Like, everyone's trying to figure out – now that we’re out of the house – how do you live now? Trying to figure out how to live life in a better way while still being like the same person you are. It's about becoming a better person and moving forward while still honoring your past.
How are you feeling about the tour?
It's awesome. It's the best tour I've ever been on, and it feels really cool that people are showing up. Because for so long, people weren't showing up. It’s interesting that people are caring enough to buy a ticket and find parking and make plans to come see some songs I made. That feels pretty cool.
Are there any challenges that come with being part of Michigander?
I think that's the same for any person who's trying to make art as their job, is trying to find a line. It's like figuring out, “How do I make something that won't alienate the people who care, but is also true to what I want to do?” I think that's always a thing, and it's kind of hard to find that line sometimes. There's just a lot of uncertainty in being a musician in general, because as you get older, it's harder to work and get a van for a month. There’s just a lot of little one game challenges that, in actuality, aren't that bad because I'm out on the road with my best friends playing music to people, which feels pretty sweet. But there was also the time where I’m like, “How am I going to pay the bills? How is my family feeling at home with me gone?” So in some ways, I view being a musician and making music as a selfish thing. So I kind of feel weird, and I feel bad about that sometimes, but I'm really, really fortunate and lucky to be able to do this at the capacity that I'm doing it.
My last question is just, what’s coming next? Do you have goals or plans you’re willing to share?
I'm trying to live right in the moment, it feels very cool. But I am thinking ahead to my debut album, and that's kind of at the forefront. I'm trying to push into the back of my mind, but it’s simply at the forefront of my mind right now. I'm really excited to figure out exactly what that looks like. I feel like every time I sit down to make a piece it always ends up different from what I thought, but it turns out to be better than my initial plans. I’m pretty excited about it.
Michigander’s latest EP It Will Never Be The Same is available for streaming now on Spotify and other music streaming platforms.
Editor’s note: The interview in this article has been edited and condensed for clarity.