Interview: The Eyebrows

The Eyebrows

Recently I was able to catch up with Charlotte, North Carolina-based power pop band, The Eyebrows, to discuss their latest album called Double Take. The Eyebrows are singer-songwriter, producer, guitarist, and multi-instrumentalist Jay Garrigan, bassist and vocalist Darrin Gray, and drummer and multi-instrumentalist Shawn Lynch. In this interview, I asked the band about what went into the writing/recording process for Double Take, how they approach building out their setlists for tours, and much more. Double Take released on April 19th, and there are still a few physical options of the record at the band’s store here.

Where did the album title of Double Take come from? What’s the significance of the title as it relates to these songs?

On one hand, I feel that my life is the definition of a double take, which is a surprised, second look at a person or situation whose significance had not been completely grasped at first. I’ve often asked myself why this is. The title Double Take also describes the dual nature of our latest album, a direct result of an innovative approach to recording that Mitch Easter inspired. This album features each song in two distinct versions: one polished and produced by Mitch in the studio, capturing the rocktastic essence of our sound only in the way someone as talented and artistic as Mitch can, and another raw, vibrant version that I recorded & mixed myself in our practice space, echoing the mid-fi and lo-fi aesthetics of bands like early REM, GBV, and Suicide that I deeply admire. This approach not only showcases our versatility as an imaginative studio and visceral, live band, but also challenges listeners to reconsider our music through different sonic perspectives & palettes, highlighting how varied production styles can alter the perception of the same song.

How did the process of recording this LP with Mitch Easter go? Any vivid memories from the studio sessions?

As far as memories go, we were absolutely buzzing as The Baseball Project just finished tracking and mixing their latest album with Mitch right before we started to track our album. To be literally standing right where our heroes Peter Buck, Mike Mills, Scott McCaughey, Steve Wynn and Linda Pitmon were was awe-inspiring, and we hoped to catch a ride on a glimmer of their musical mojo. REM was very formative upon younger versions of myself and drummist Shawn Lynch. In the early 90s, Mike Mills once said he wanted to put his two cents into anything I do, and I stupidly lost his phone number. Maybe he will do a double take at some future time, haha. Also in this session, we got to use some really interesting gear, such as running a mix buss through a 60s EMI console – much like a console The Beatles would have used during the 60s. I believe Kurt Vile bought this console from Mitch recently. I know for a fact we were the last band to record on Mitch’s legendary main console before he let it go—a console that was used to mix the soundtrack of The NeverEnding Story. Reflecting on Double Take, where each song undergoes its own transformation across two sides, it feels apt to echo a line from the movie: ‘Nothing is lost…Everything is transformed.’ (shivers!) Recording with Mitch Easter at his studio is always a great time, and having detailed musical conversations comes naturally within the walls of the Fidelitorium. We can talk about things like… what kind of mic, amp, and reverb is needed to give this Hohner Pianet a period-specific, 60s sound?

I love the energy of your band’s performance on the music video for “Say Yeah!”. Where was this video shot at, and how pleased are you with the final product?

“Say Yeah!” was shot in the raw veins of our beloved Charlotte, NC in my backyard, a place as battered and beautiful as the tune itself. We filmed it right next to a very toxic, chemical-laden creek right across from – what I can only call – the apartment-ization and gentrification of my neighborhood and city. When we first moved here, we were surrounded by woods in the heart of the NODA arts district. Now, we’re surrounded by what looks like tall, faceless Hogwarts dormitories. You can see the construction in the background of the video. And that out-of-focus, jittery cam work? That’s no accident. It’s homage to those old 8mm family reels by my grandfather—imperfect, a bit blurred with oversaturated colors, but the feelings it gives are real. They’re about capturing moments not in pristine HD but in the messy, wonderful truth of life. That video is much like us—imperfect, alive, and doing things we really have no business doing ourselves. But we do them anyway. You know, there’s a certain audacity and disregard for norms that comes with uploading something as imperfect and flawed like this video in a world where everyone seems to want the same sort of colors, filters, and stabliziation. From that point of view, yes I’m happy with the final video.

With now three albums to your name, how will you approach building out the setlist for any upcoming touring plans?

We believe in attacking the stage like a gang. There’s a certain physicality to our live show that runs more off of endorphins than physical conditioning. Our setlist, while constructed with precise, short songs, also leaves room for letting us express and explore that are purposefully unpredictable and give us a sense of catharsis. The song “Descend Into Madness” on side two/Take Two is just that… something we never practice, but always put on the setlist. That, and we’re already putting songs from our next album in the set because we love to always be creating, learning, and expressing something new. Touring, for us, isn’t quite the traditional route. The past couple of years, particularly post-Covid, have seen us rocking out in non-traditional venues and gritty dive bars—places where the raw, unfiltered magic happens. 20 years ago, my booking appetites put us in a place where we were selling our blood plasma to eat. Poverty does terrible things to your physical and mental health. I told myself that I would never put anyone I love or care about through that again, so we have to think carefully about touring and how it impacts our lives, health, and relationships. Maybe I should not be so prideful in being so DIY. Also, we recognize the importance of diversity in music. We make a concerted effort to include a diverse range of artists in our shows when we can pick openers—women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ musicians—not just to enrich our lineups but to genuinely celebrate and amplify diverse voices. Our aim is to create an inclusive vibe at our gigs where everyone is accepted and appreciated. Looking ahead, our sights are set on festivals, and playing with like-minded bands. Just recently, we’ve been able to connect on live shows with NC bands like The Veldt, Vibekillers, and Sneakers (that’s the dB’s with Mitch Easter on guitar). It means the world to us to be included on stages with bands of this caliber.

What do you hope fans both new and old will enjoy most on Double Take?

That’s a thought-provoking question. When crafting a song, it’s not really about whether fans will like them, but more about us capturing something genuine and playing a song in a way that stirs emotions within us. Personally, I relish the opportunity to challenge our listeners just as much as I challenge myself. I’ve encountered the industry norm where bands are told by producers, ‘Now go learn your record.’ To me, that’s a stifling concept. Why should a band be confined to recreating studio work? Isn’t live music about capturing the spirit of the moment, complete with all its raw energy and spontaneity? But to answer the question more from a songwriter’s perspective, I feel that through music, we share pieces of ourselves, and through sharing, we create bonds. There’s truly no greater honor for a musician than to know your work is not just heard, but felt and passed on. I genuinely hope new and old fans like the songs enough to share them with the people they care about most.