Alley Eyes are a garage/alternative rock band consisting of vocalist/guitarist Colton Schroetter, guitarist Jake Grimes, bassist AJ Folino and drummer Matt Ricciardi. Their debut EP “Of Things to Come…” came out in July. We spoke with AJ about what the band’s got going on.
ME: How did Alley Eyes get involved with Wisconsin Music Ventures?
AJ: Sure, so I heard about it through the Wisconsin Music Podcast when Allison did an episode with them. The host of the podcast is our producer, Zach Fell. It seemed like a cool opportunity so we dug into the website and went from there.
ME: Right on, awesome!
ME: How’d you guys form?
AJ: The other three guys – Matt, Colton and Jake – originally started as a cover band playing bar gigs around Marquette; we’re all Marquette alums so we met there. After we graduated from school and friends started to move away, they lost their old bassist and I became the fill-in. As more time developed, like right in the midst of the pandemic when everything was shut down around November 2020 was when we decided to try our hands at doing original music. We kept practicing and gigging, so we were basically born out of COVID.
ME: Sure, I think a lot of things were (laughs). That’s cool though. I used to work at the Marquette Starbucks; no one left us tips over there (laughs).
ME: You guys have an interesting thing going on as Alley Eyes; I can tell that you’re influenced by a lot of different kinds of rock music. Your songs are fun and have a lot of flavor to them! I’d love to hear more about what went into your EP “Of Things to Come…”.
AJ: Well, first of all, thank you (laughs). Each song was kind of born in its own way; they’re not particularly similar to one another between the four of them, and I think that was us coming into our own as a band. The first song we ever wrote was “Nothing at All” and that’s where our inspiration came from to be an originals band; it was born out of the influence of early Strokes albums. “ACDC Messiah” started as a riff that Colton put together; it was kind of a weird song that didn’t have a chorus but had a musical breakdown thing. “Night Sirens” was the story of a drunk night at a bar that Jake and Colton came up with the premise for, and we were going for a Latin-sounding vibe. “Bleached Bones” actually started with me and one of our other friends Tim; we got inspired by the soundtrack to Inception and the ending song “Time.” I came home from a bass lesson one day and had these four chords I really liked that sounded like it, so we ended up doing an homage to “Time” where it ends with a call-and-response between me and Jake. We were just throwing stuff at the wall for that EP and ran with whatever stuck.
ME: Hey, there’s nothing wrong with doing that – especially for your first release. It seems to be working well for you guys.
ME: How was your Summerfest gig?
AJ: It was good but crazy; we found out like that Monday the week-of that we were going to be playing it, and we all had busy plans around that time so it was a bit of a mad dash. They originally sent us the contract over and we realized that we had a two-hour time slot, and we do not have that much worth of music to play (laughs). It was a chaotic time but we scrambled to figure it out; I think we ended up playing like four songs twice. There weren’t a ton of people there but I think as we got toward the end of our set, there were more people walking by, plus we had friends and family there watching. We have a ton of video from it that our friend filmed; we just put it out on YouTube and honestly we’ve never sounded better (laughs). It was unreal having professional audio engineers there and hearing what you sound like through real PA systems; it was pretty cool.
ME: There you go! Sounds like a really solid first Summerfest.
ME: That all said, what are you working on now?
AJ: So, we had thirteen songs in total when we put out the first EP, but we’re leaning into where the music industry expects to trend so we’re releasing stuff in smaller parts. In October we’ll be heading to record the other nine songs; we’re working on some pre-production stuff right now with our producer. We’ll hopefully release four or five songs early next year and then maybe the last four a few months after that. By early summer or spring next year, we’ll hopefully have everything out.