According to the band, everybody has inside voices, and in their latest album Liminal Space (2022) they offer a glimpse of some of their own.
ARTICLE BY VANELIS RIVERA
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREW BAILEY
“That is a very lackluster story,” says Tyler Jones. Auburn hair styled in a mullet mohawk, ear gauges, and black-rimmed, rectangular glasses, the vocalist and guitarist of Inside Voices is not exactly one to blend into the background. “So, Conner’s girlfriend just pitched the name. I don’t know where she got it from,” he says, mentioning the band’s drummer, Connor Matthews. “We heard that, and we were just like, that sticks.” Perhaps the name of their band doesn’t have any specific meaning (because they are not quiet by any means), but therein lies the message says Jones: “It can have whatever meaning anybody wants it to have.” According to the band, everybody has inside voices, and in their latest album Liminal Space (2022) they offer a glimpse of some of their own.
Around 2009, Jones and Matthews started performing together as teenagers. “Connor and I were playing music together like in various bands in high school and whatnot…from there, we just kind of clicked; we found that we had like this chemistry,” says Jones. Breaking away from the “metalcore emo bands,” they formed another band called No Regrets where they began to write their own music. But then, Jones split after graduating from high school, moving to Ruston. While a student at Louisiana Tech University, Jones kept writing, thinking, “I just gotta get back to Connor, I gotta. That’s my drummer.” Jones finally got over to him with a handful of songs, and the result was their first self-titled EP Inside Voices (2016). Their second album and first LP was then released in 2018, Consecutive Normal Songs. “We did that with Eric Woolard, a buddy of ours that lives in Jackson,” says Jones, explaining that the band has been recording with him for close to 10 years. “We met him while we were in high school. And so, it’s been cool, like, growing as musicians and seeing him grow as a producer.”
For a while, Inside Voices was just a three-man band, until Matthews started pushing Jones to add a second guitar. “I’m really weird about creative control,” says Jones. Fortunately, the addition of an extra guitarist happened naturally. Already acquainted with Alex Stokes by way of their early band days, the pair began to joke about having Stokes join a practice, but when he finally came to jam “everything flowed really well. And now we’re here.” The most recent addition has been Taylor Bice on bass who joined the players around 2021.
Usually categorized as Indie, math rock, and emo, Inside Voices prefers to stick to the description “Louisiana Y’allternative Rock.” Though Jones points out that the band’s early years were “definitely a lot more punk, but we had a lot of math rock influences.” In fact, his guitar playing was heavily influenced by bands like The Fall of Troy, Chon, and TTNG (formerly known as This Town Needs Guns). “So, heavily post prog rock mixed with a lot of math rock” explains Jones. Overall, he and Matthew have been “massively” influenced by indie rock bands Title Fight and Glocca Morra, a foundation still present in their current writing. Their music and music tastes have not necessarily changed drastically, but they have explored different avenues, further texturizing their sound. “We don’t really know what the genre class for ourselves [is],” says Jones, but they enjoy hearing the vast input from people. One comparison they’ve gotten a few times is with alternative rock/power pop band Weezer. Whenever they dropped one of their music videos when still a three-piece a viewer posted under the video, “Not bad, but I’d rather get my Weezer first hand.” Jones freely admits, “Oh, we laughed so hard at that.”
Currently, Jones writes most of the lyrics, though Matthews has a few credited to him, particularly the song “Both” in the EP Seek (2020). Thematically Jones is drawing mostly from personal experience. His early songs were a bit “random.” He was just graduating college and was writing on a variety of experiences. One of his favorite songs is about his cat Cheese; another is about a game he used to play with college friends called Dark Souls. Some songs get even more specific, like the one recounting the time Jones ran over a bear on I-20. By the 2020 album, his points of exploration got more intimate. “I was going through a lot of stuff personally,” he says. At the time, his grandmother, a person he considered his best friend, passed away. This tremendous loss paired with other family complications made for, what he considered, existential approaches to songwriting. “So, Seek is collectively just kind of about, like… me, I guess. Not getting a grasp on adulthood,” he says, though he backtracks, admitting that trying it may take a lifetime to truly get a grasp on adulthood.
The album Liminal Space was written during the pandemic. The first song titled “A Hero Appears” is drawn from Jones’ favorite anime Ping Pong (2014). Much of the premise of the show intermingles comparisons of philosophical and theological concepts from Buddhism, Taoism, and perspectives on enlightenment. “So the whole idea of the song was opening up the EP with movement,” he explains, referencing the imagery of hiding in a shell and needing to break out of it, which is indicative in the lyrics, “I sense that there is something more. / What am I waiting for? / A hero appears and / I feel alive again.” In this context, “hero” is open to interpretation, as it can be an influential thought or any driving force that creates an impetus for self-improvement. The second track, “Thank, Prometheus,” uses the Greek myth to comment on how technology has changed the world. “The whole song is kind of about the whole idea of Pandora’s box, you know, like releasing something you can’t put back in, and it having these crazy effects.” Initially, Jones wanted to name the song “Pandora’s Box” but considered it too derivative, so he read about the myth and found that it has origins with Prometheus “doing some wacky stuff.” One of the more upbeat tracks in the album is “Snooze,” a track that not only touches on a subject most people struggle with most mornings, but that extends to the dread of having to wake up to the reality of the pandemic: “Hitting snooze / I’m sleeping in / How did I end up like this? / I’ve got to make myself better again.”
In the span of seven years, the members of Inside Voices have not only immersed themselves in the creation of original music but have also toured fervently. Besides the regional hotspots like New Orleans, Lafayette, Mississippi, and “a good bit” in Texas, they have also gone to Missouri and Oklahoma. Their love of performance is best summed up by Jones who says, “If I could smoke the feeling that you get from playing live, I would have a problem.” He admits that songwriting is one of his true loves, but being able to perform in front of people is his ultimate vice. “The feeling of people approaching us after the show and telling us how much you know, they enjoyed it or any random comment… stuff like that is just—I am in my prime whenever I’m on stage.” Stokes and Bice second this sentiment, Bice adding, “It just doesn’t feel like much else…I just get up there and turn my brain off while we’re doing a set.”
A harmonious combination of similar music tastes and playing “whatever feels good,” as Jones puts it, is what makes Inside Voices the kind of band you would go see even on a Tuesday night, a feat they recently pulled off at Ruston’s Sundown Tavern. While sharing the stage with two other out-of-town bands, their opening set pulled the mostly young adult audience to the front of the stage. Full of carefree energy that keeps an audience joyous and mellow at the same time, these local guys are tapping into the pulse of what it means to be wild, young, and free. “One of my favorite things about this is being able to express ourselves in this way,” says Jones. In spite of the changes they’ve undergone over the years, and the ones sure to come, Jones holds that “all of it still feels right.”
Check out Inside Voices on all major streaming platforms including Spotify, Amazon, and Apple Music. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram to learn about future performances.