Band name: Santah
Sound: On its debut effort, "White Noise Bed," the local quintet flirts with the same exploratory Americana championed by bands like Whiskeytown and Wilco. Fitting, since the album was recorded at the late (former Wilco member) Jay Bennett's Pieholden Studios.
Claim to fame/need to know: The bandmates, who met in college at the University of Illinois, have shared the stage with everyone from Surfer Blood to Cults to Company of Thieves. Currently, the group is working on a still-untitled EP, which it hopes to release sometime this spring.
Interviewed: Stanton McConnell, 25, Bucktown/Wicker Park
Is it odd to spend the entire month of December getting confused with an entirely different Santa?
[Laughs] Yeah, but honestly it's funny. The people that are in our world and love the band will say something to their friends about going to see Santah and mass confusion ensues.
Do you remember how you learned Santa wasn't real?
I don't. I do remember when I was in 3rd grade--I was in a class with 3rd and 4th graders--one of the 4th graders who had a locker behind me looked at me and smugly told me, "You know there's no Santa, right?" I remember my answer. My answer was, "You're probably right, but it's just way more fun to believe."
You're signed to No Sleep Records. Do you consider yourself a night owl?
Yeah, actually. There's definitely a little bit of rambunctiousness in "White Noise Bed." There are notes on intimacy and betrayal and sexuality, and I think nighttime is the default venue for those things to flourish in, especially being of college age. One of the songs on the record is called "Bat Suite," and it's really about just that--how the night can enable you to cut loose.
Considering everyone in the band bonded over Wilco initially, it's fitting you ended up recording "White Noise Bed" at Pieholden Studios.
Right, and it definitely was not a coincidence. We sought it out, and out of all the studios that were available to us this one had such a cool pedigree and history that we couldn't resist. That fascination extended well throughout the recording process--finding out this microphone was used to record Jeff Tweedy's voice on "Yankee Hotel Foxtrot," or this piano played the intro on "I Am Trying to Break Your Heart." We were like kids in a candy store.
Did you meet Jay before he died?
No, we actually didn't. It was really unfortunate for the world to lose Jay. Selfishly, I would have loved to have him pop in and out of the studio when we were recording, but I think you can still hear Jay on our record. I think you can a hear a little bit of that twang and a little bit of that soul. And I hope he'd be proud I said that.
You guys spent a good chunk of the year touring. What's one essential item you need on the road?
[Laughs] As far as stuff I can say in the interview? I would just say you need your patience. You need patience and a good sense of humor because you're with the same people for months straight.
What's the one spot you have to hit up the second you get back to Chicago?
I spend a lot of time at Ipsento, which is a coffee shop (in Bucktown). I get ornery when I drink coffee that's not Ipsento because it's just so good. I go in there, grab my coffee...and I'm like the happiest guy in the world. It feels like home at this point.
Do you have a favorite Christmas carol?
Actually, we were talking about this the other day. I really like the over-the-top cheesy ones. I really love like Whitney Houston's rendition of "Do You Hear What I Hear," 'cause it's no-holds-barred. Or even Sting's "Gabriel's Message." I think my favorite is "Carol of the Bells." That's my definitive answer, but Whitney Houston's cool, too.
Are you planning to work any of those carols into your set?
[Laughs] Absolutely not. We have mad respect for the other Santa, that's for sure, and out of his honor we stick to the Santah with the h.
Stanton McConnell personality test
What's the last album you bought? "I bought five at the same time. I bought two copies of 'Tusk' on vinyl--one for my girlfriend and one for our keyboardist. I bought George Harrison ‘Concert for Bangladesh,' Patti Smith's ‘Wave' and a Donovan live record."
Song you've listened to on repeat recently? Woods: "Time Fading Lines"
Song you never want to hear again? Rusted Root: "Send Me on My Way" "That song has been stuck in my head for ten months."
Best concert you've seen in the last year? "The War on Drugs at Lincoln Hall or Fleet Foxes headlining Pitchfork Music Festival."
New band you don't know personally that deserves to be big? Sybris
Favorite movie ever? "The Princess Bride"
Chicago's best music venue? Lincoln Hall
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Where: Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln Ave.
Tickets: $8-$12, 773-525-2508