Ed Reyes has seen things from both sides of the fence. A former struggling indie musician who worked in the A&R department of Warner Brothers, Reyes also fronted the Little Ones, a band on EMI-owned Astralwerks. That is, until the band forced him to quit the industry, and then the industry forced the label to drop the band.
Funny how things work out.
But this isn't a tale of another deserving band getting the axe—even if a member of said band spent time sharpening the axe—in fact, Reyes is pretty thankful for the whole thing. "We already had an album in the can, and it was supposed to be released in April, then we were told that we had been released from our contract. But the good thing is they were gracious enough to get the masters back."
Besides, the corporate music world couldn't be further from Reyes' intentions to pen the most pristine pop songs imaginable, which are at the very core of the Little Ones. The group itself started as a secret, perhaps for fear it would catch the ears of his coworkers, the desperate folks in the sinking ship that is a corporate record label. "I saw all these bad bands getting peddled and getting released," says Reyes. "I wanted to start writing songs and release something, it inspired me. All the while, I didn't tell anybody I was in a band. I just wanted to work."
The record in question, Morning Tide, will have an eventual release sometime this year, but in the meantime the Los Angeles band is touring in promotion of a self-released EP, on their Branches Recording Collective imprint, Terry Tales and Fallen Gates. On Terry Tales, Reyes calmly delivers upbeat melodies throughout bouncy vintage pop—think a jittery Zombies, a less whimsical Elephant Six act, or the Shins with a pulse—that is right at home in the sun-soaked California sprawl.
The band's modest success was birthed from their initial failure. "We couldn't even get a show," says Reyes. "Not even in Los Angeles." So the band took to the web and caught the ear of an entire community that never knew of their humble existence. Blogs championed the band, and the hometown LA shows turned into national tours alongside the likes of the French Kicks and the Futureheads. There was an appearance at Bonnaroo and that hot-shit Crystal Castles remix of their "Lovers Who Uncover," not to mention all the British media hyperbole and fervor directed at the band from across the pond. Reyes sums up the experience of going from the unknown to the known in such a sort amount of time: "With the internet, our music traveled further than we ever could"
After their music traveled, the Little Ones followed, packing up their sunny pop and heading to Europe, where, still to this day, their music is best received. Says Reyes, "I have no idea why that is, maybe it's the weird mythical perception of the California sunshine?"
While their domestic travels have been modest, the band is fresh off a European arena tour alongside Kaiser Chiefs, a dizzying experience Reyes simply describes as "pretty crazy." But the band isn't seeking that sort of attention here in the states—not just yet—and with the label drama in their wake, the band looks forward to the current US tour. As Reyes explains, "As long as there's people there, it's not so bad. It is like a new beginning."