The best kept secret of Chicago’s psych rock scene, Electric Sheep is the project of singer-songwriting collaborators Jonathan Extract and Devin Nolan. Rooted in the detailed song-craft and elaborate studio recordings of artists like the Beatles, Radiohead, and David Bowie, Electric Sheep’s sound is both innovative and nostalgic, intricate and pop, tender and groovy. A tight high energy rhythm section consisting of Leon Nguyen’s bass and Chris Lee’s drums elevate the often intimate tracks into something transcendent. Eclectic and enigmatic in execution, Electric Sheep’s catalog brims with a lucid fascination for popular music. Their fourth album, “Trip the Light Fantastic” is perhaps their most lush and refine work yet, overflowing with moving song-craft and entrancing studio creativity. 


How did the band form and what does the band name mean?

Jonathan: Devin and I met in grade school and have been writing songs together now for 15 years. Leon has been playing with us since high school too. So this is really a family band at this point.

Devin: Electric sheep initially formed as a back-to-basics rock band, taking inspiration from all sorts of garage and psychedelic pop bands. Over time, our sound has become an amalgamation of all sorts of influences, both personal and collective. The name is taken from the famous psychonaut and novelist Phillip K. Dick’s novel, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep.” It really doesn’t mean anything other than we like all things strange and esoteric.

Previous musical projects? How'd you first get into music?

Devin: Jonathan and I recorded in high school under the name the Catatonics, which is where we initially started to explore the sound that would become Electric Sheep. Besides my collaboration with Jonathan, I was a member of a band called Pinebocks, which released some music on Chicago garage rock staple, Dumpster Tapes. There was a garage and psych zeitgeist in Chicago around that time, and Electric Sheep found a natural home there.

Jonathan: Leon and I worked together in a project named fAbrics. Recording those albums in my late teens really helped me hone in my recording and producing skills. As far as getting into music, I guess it starts as just being a massive music nerd. From collecting, researching, DJing, playing, and writing, I’ve immersed myself in pop music for most of my life.

Leon: I got into music because my Vietnamese dad loved to sing and perform in front of people. My earliest memory was of him singing on stage at a lunar new year festival to celebrate Tet.

First concert that you ever went to? (Locally and National acts)

Devin: Yikes.... the first concert I ever went to was to see the band Chevelle in seventh grade.

Jonathan: First concerts? I mean, I remember seeing the White Stripes do Get Behind Me Satan..but I come from a performing family, so I’ve seen live acts my whole life.

What's your writing process like?

Devin: On a personal level it really depends. One of the things I’ve always liked about music is that there aren’t any hard rules as to how a song should be written. My favorite songs usually come from a burst of inspiration where there is no process, it just flows out.

Jonathan: When Devin and I are together—we’ve lived in different cities now for years—one of us will come in with a fragment of a song, maybe a guitar lick, or verse or something. And we’ll just hammer it out over a few hours. It’s always surprising how fast it goes. We can write a song from start to finish in about 3 hours. However, a lot of our music is crafted separately. For certain projects we each come with songs we’ve crafted over months. But the best part of the relationship is how we compliment each other, adding harmony, production ideas, a solo. Our music really is greater by the sum of both parts. We spend probably more time in the studio than out these days. Chris Lee of VCR studios has really facilitated that for us. So a lot of song writing is about adding ideas in the studio.

Devin: Jonathan and I have gotten it down to a science at this point. When you’ve been writing with someone for so long and the same musical DNA runs through your veins, it becomes sort of automatic.

What other artists or songs inspire your music? 

Jonathan: Well it starts with the Beatles, cruises into adiohead, and then expands into all types of psychedelic pop directions. I’ve personally been enamored by singer songwriters that use the studio to make “pocket orchestras” as well as bands that constantly change album to album. But as we’ve gotten older, we’ve both become fascinated with alternative Pop Rock— bands like Big Star, REM, Sparks...

Devin: The Back to the Grave and Nuggets compilations of 60’s garage rock really inspired our initial direction of back-to-basics rock n’ roll.

Leon: As a bassist I’ve always been big on Motown, as well as 60’s and 70’s psych rock influences. I think it compliments you guy’s music nicely and lets me think in a rhythm and groove type of way.

What's the live experience like and your philosophy on playing live? Do you think the music live should be identical to the recorded version or should it be it's own thing?

Jonathan: We’ve been a studio band for years now. This is only due to our situation of living in different cities. Any chance I’m back in Chicago we all practice and record. However, we love playing live, and did so pretty frequently throughout 2015, 2016, and 2017. We have plans for live shows, and how to interpret the often dense production of our studio records into something we can do with just guitars. But that’s not all that hard. Playing tracks stripped down to their chords and licks often makes the tracks even better.

Has the band toured? What has the touring experience been, best shows?worst shows?

Jonathan: We’ve been very lucky to play great shows with great bands in Chicago. But we haven’t toured.

Devin: We dream about it though!

What’s up next of the band? 

Jonathan: Over the course of working on our last record “Trip the Light Fantastic,” we recorded a number of other songs destined for different projects. There’s a certain single that should drop not too long from now. But Devin and I are very far along in planning our next album. Some songs have already been completed. It might be some of our strongest songwriting yet. Hopefully it won’t take too long to get that out to the world 


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