The Chordaes - Touch The Ground





The Chordaes

are Leo Sawikin (Lead Vocals/Guitars), Ethan Glenn (Drums), Jesse Serrano (Bass), and Max Ventura (Keyboards, Backing Vocals)

The Chordaes, who have recently released their debut album, are on a mission: to bring back great, melodic rock, playing what they call Post-power pop – a style that draws on classic rock and power pop, refracted through a contemporary sensibility. The band’s songwriter, lead vocalist and guitarist, Leo Sawikin, crafts complex harmonies, inventive chord and tempo changes, and heartfelt lyrics. According to Elmore Magazine, The Chordaes offer “A diverse array of sounds and ideas, inspired by the freewheeling experimentation of Radiohead and late period Beatles while retaining a strictly pop essence.”

Leo’s NYC-born bandmates are Ethan Glenn (Drums), Jesse Serrano (Bass), and Max Ventura (Keyboards). Leo and Ethan have been playing in bands together since meeting as ninth grade troublemakers in their music elective class. They formed the current incarnation in 2014 during Leo’s summer break from Bard College, where he was studying music and science (he once created a website on mammalian evolution). Ethan, a surfer and sometime runway model, also has by consensus the band’s best hair.

Answering an Internet ad, high schooler Jesse, who started performing at 12 as a sideman in his uncle’s combo, came down from the Bronx for an audition and immediately earned the bass role. Max, Ethan’s childhood friend from the same Upper West Side block, caught an early Chordaes show, loved what he heard and soon joined on keys and backing vocals. Max, like Jesse, is a multi-instrumentalist who also plays sax and guitar. With Max’s background in jazz and classical, Leo and Ethan’s indiepop/alt rock sensibility and Jesse’s rhythmic chops, the band draws on a broad musical vocabulary that comes together in a sound Philly Mixtape has dubbed “vibey and chill.”

The first tracks from the band’s upcoming debut album Touch the Ground were recorded in August 2014 on the Jersey Shore, under the production of veteran Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker, Roger Daltrey). Ethan recalls the initial visit to Shorefire Studios, filled with analog gear such as the famed Helios console, as “stepping into a time capsule.” The first song they cut, the album’s title track, also expressed its main theme: the confusing transition from youth to maturity., premiering the song in 2015, quoted Leo: “My whole childhood I felt unsettled, I was always waiting on something . . . . I thought adulthood would bring contentedness for some weird reason, maybe because I thought I would be free. ‘Touch the Ground’ is about realizing that freedom is as exhausting as it is liberating.”

When the track Touch the Ground was finished, everyone involved knew they had created “something special and significant,” in Ethan’s words. It was original music, with substance. Leo, believing that he had to pursue what they’d tapped into, left college, making what he says was one of the hardest decisions of his life. The rest of the album was recorded over the next year, a time of personal change for the group, three of whom turned 21 (though Jesse still can’t buy a drink). Leo continued to write songs, finding, despite his youth, his main inspiration in such great melodically-driven idols as Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney.

As early tracks emerged from the Shorefire sessions and were released, they received strong college radio airplay and premieres on Earmilk, Pancakes and Whiskey, BlackBook, and more. Deli Magazine, naming the band number one NY-based emerging alt rock band of 2015, cited “Elegant melodies, measured arrangements … this is a group of young and talented musicians with noteworthy songwriting chops and a vocalist who can touch hearts in ways reminiscent of unforgotten NYC hero Jeff Buckley.”

The album will be released this spring. The first official single, Get the Feeling, is an irresistibly catchy tune meant to be heard on a car radio running stop signs all the way to the beach. It has become the closer of the band’s live show – which includes a residency at the famed Bitter End – with Max playing the infectious keyboard solo on everything from a Steinway grand to a Nord to the hot pink toy piano at the band’s Bushwick practice space.

Leo wrote the hypnotic Losing Control on his vintage 12-string acoustic Takamine. The song introduces the album’s second theme, one that is “never new, and never gets old”: the pain of unrequited love. Baby Goodnight conjures up the first McCartney solo record, but with jangly guitars, ethereal harmonies, and a slide guitar bridge that might have come from a ‘60s-era pop hit.

The side two opener (The Chordaes think in terms of vinyl), Falling Up, has classic rock DNA. It accelerates to a finish powered by layered electric guitars and a Hammond organ, followed by a long and meticulous outro. The tempo slows with Cry Another Day, which builds over a beautiful string arrangement by Dave (Viva La Vida) Eggar to a climax featuring a passionate vocal by Leo. The song has become a stunning highlight of the live show. She concludes the album on an optimistic note, as the band looks to the future, to the new experiences and new loves ahead.

To draw without snobbery on fifty years of the greatest rock and pop—on everything from Abba to Zeppelin—to reimagine it, and to bring that sound to a mass audience: this is The Chordaes’ dream. And the band believes it will happen, because, in Max’s words, “People are hungry for real music again.”

Leo Sawikin

Leo Sawikin

Ethan Glenn

Ethan Gleen

Jesse Serrano

Jesse Serrano


Bookings & ManagementRiverine Music
Press ContactMaggie Poulos
Mixtape Media
Riverine Music LLC

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Touch the Ground Get the Feeling Baby Goodnight Cry Another Day She