You know you’re making it in music when you learn you’re going to be opening shows for a band that’s not only been one of your biggest influences, but also one of your reasons for making music in the first place. Stillwater, Okla., indie-folk band Other Lives will provide support for part of rock legends Radiohead’s U.S. tour, beginning in late February 2012 and continuing through mid-March.
Arena gigs are a far cry from cozy 300-capacity venues, so it might just be prime time to catch them.
“[Radiohead] came to one of our shows in Oxford [England], and we got to meet them,” says Other Lives frontman and founding member Jesse Tabish. “We feel very lucky to have the opportunity [to tour with them]. … We’ve been a band for nine years, so we’re definitely ready; it’s a real privilege.”
Tabish grew up in the Sugar House area of Salt Lake City and moved to Oklahoma when he was 12. He began writing songs and making music as a kid, taking piano lessons for a short time when he was about 10 and resuming them at 19.
“My mom was a piano teacher, so I grew up with a lot of classical music and jazz,” Tabish says. “I was crazy about music from an early age. I was almost ready to drop out of high school, because I knew music was what I wanted to do.”
In 2004, Tabish formed an instrumental band, Kunek, which released a self-titled album in 2006. Shortly thereafter, the band began playing as Other Lives after Tabish wanted a fresh start and began to experiment with lyrics.
Under this new moniker, their self- titled debut album dropped in 2009 on TBD Records. The album’s single, “Black Tables,” was featured on prime-time shows like Ugly Betty, One Tree Hill and Grey’s Anatomy. Other Lives’ follow-up album, Tamer Animals, was released earlier this year after nearly 16 months of working on the album every day.
Listening to any of Other Lives’ releases, it’s clear the band has its roots in folk-rock, but their use of various instruments and incorporation of classical elements prove that they’re more than just folk rockers. Tabish defines the music he makes best as a “progressive look on folk music.”
Tabish cites the Beatles, Sigur Ros, Pink Floyd and, of course, Radiohead, as some of his—and his band’s—biggest influences. “That’s why we’re so thrilled about it,” he says. “They’ve been such an influence to us. They’re always breaking out of the traditional rock format and showing all the various possibilities.”
While playing sold-out arenas is a change for the band, it’s not altogether uncharted territory. Other Lives just got off a tour with “skinny love” himself, Justin Vernon—aka Bon Iver—on the West Coast leg of his most recent U.S. and Canadian tour. “We learned some things and stepped up our performance a little,” Tabish says of the tour. “It was a fun time and also a very big learning experience—which all challenges should be. I’m sure the Radiohead thing will be [similar], as well.”
While success is a hard thing to define, “writing music and completing a piece of music that blows you away,” Tabish says, is a crucial part to his own personal success as a musician.
“I don’t think anything else makes me feel as satisfied and whole,” Tabish continues. “I’m successful if I continue doing music no matter what happens. I’ve done it this far, and I don’t have any plans of stopping.”
Plus, the 9-to-5 grind just ain’t his thing. “I feel lucky to be on a musical vacation every day,” Tabish adds. “It’s such a privilege to be able to do what we’re doing.”
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