GLEN ELLYN – For 2005 Glenbard West High School graduates Jarrett Hothan and Adam Wiebe, friendship and making music go hand in hand.
Hothan and Wiebe comprise garage rock band The Trolls, which will perform Jan. 12 at the Empty Bottle in Chicago to mark the release of the group's debut album, "Vs. The Shadow Pyramid." Brian Johannesen with guest Ryan Joseph Anderson, along with Planetsexploder, also are on the bill.
Tickets are $8 in advance and $10 at the door, available at eventbrite.com.
Suburban Life reporter Eric Schelkopf had the chance to talk to Hothan and Wiebe about the album and upcoming show. The CD will be released that day, and it will be available online at iTunes, Spotify and elsewhere.
Schelkopf: I understand the first single from the album, "Shadow Pyramid," premiered on Jan. 7 on Chicago radio station Q101. Did you get any feedback after it aired?
Wiebe: We got a lot of good, positive feedback. I actually had a hockey game right before it, so everyone, as they were driving home, just happened to have it on, and I got several text messages from my hockey teammates. I think it helped generate a lot of excitement for the show coming up on Friday.
Schelkopf: So you have played together for 17 years?
Hothan: It might even be a little longer because technically, the first time Adam and I met was in band at Hadley Junior High School. Adam was a drummer in the Hadley band, and I played the saxophone.
Schelkopf: Did garage rock duo The White Stripes have an influence on your music?
Hothan: Oh, yeah, definitely. Jack White always had a little bit of childlike humor and weirdness to go with the really well-constructed music. I think that's definitely something that we try to do, to have a little bit of that oddball sensibility to well-written songs.
Schelkopf: How long has The Trolls been together?
Wiebe: I think Jarrett and I have been playing in The Trolls for four years. We were both kind of finishing up with a couple of previous bands that we were in separately. After moving to downtown Chicago, we started jamming together a little bit here and there. ... We always enjoyed playing together, but it's always been as a rhythm section. Then we decided, 'Why don't we start crafting stuff ourselves and kind of see where that takes us?'
Schelkopf: There seems like there should be a story behind the name of the band.
Hothan: We view trolls as kind of mischievous creatures starting trouble, kind of like our band.
Schelkopf: What were your goals for the album?
Hothan: For this project, I think Adam and I really challenged ourselves to sort of step up our songwriting game and see what we could do and spend some time with the songs. Because we had never really been in that songwriting role. ... We're really happy with how it turned out. I think we were pleasantly surprised at what we could do.
Wiebe: For our first EP, 2015's "The Tenets of P.A.R.T.Y.," we really were just trying to get our sound out there. ... I think for this album, "Vs. The Shadow Pyramid," we started looking at things as, 'How do we combat all the negativity that's out there in the world?' I feel that people are finding fewer and fewer positive things in their lives. ... We [decided] to be a beacon of positivity for people. When they come to our shows and listen to this new album, we wanted to almost make it a little bit of an escape for them and make them smile a little bit.