Indie rock band Seeing Double brings retro sounds into the new age. The five-person collective, based and formed in Oneonta, New York, takes major inspirations from the likes of Fleetwood Mac, The Strokes, Queen and Paul McCartney. While the band may consist of 5 young college students, their music features guitar tones of the past, utilization of three part harmonies and all hands on deck DIY production.
The collective features front-woman and bassist Allie Sandt, guitarists Mike Aaron and Zach Torncello. Seeing Double also features singer and percussionist Ali McQueeney and Dylan Travison on drums, who were not present at this interview.
The band first emerged in January of 2022 with their first release “Leah//Don’t Wait.” Their track “Leah” gained major attention because of its Fleetwood Mac reminiscent sound, powerful vocals and stand out guitar solo, amassing over 3 million streams on Spotify. The band promoted the song via Tik Tok with their series “brushing our teeth to ‘Leah’ everyday until it goes viral.’ Since the release of “Leah//Don’t Wait” the band has shifted seamlessly between a range of sub-genres from indie rock to rockabilly, exploring their sound and expanding their discography.
The band has now shifted gear to a self proclaimed “spy rock” sound in their latest release “Bygones.” The song features a strong and stand out vocal performance from Sandt and McQueeny, with layered harmonies and unforgettable belting, a perfectly crafted and groovy guitar solo from Torncello, an absolutely electric electric bass from Aaron and a complimenting beat from Travison.
Forming from their deep love for music in a ghost town the band is moving from basement shows to opening acts. I had the great opportunity to sit down with the band to discuss crafting their latest release, sub-genres of rock, basement shows and mistaken tattoos.
Who is Seeing Double?
Allie Sandt: Besides the obvious answer of the five of us, it started about a year and a half ago now. So we are still figuring out who we’re going to be as a band, because we’ve only put out a few releases. I don’t know if I have a good label yet. But we’re really looking forward to putting out a new genre of music with every track that we have coming up.
How did Seeing Double form?
Sandt: We were some of the only people on campus in spring of 2021. Because after our school got sent home because of COVID in fall semester, a lot of people didn’t come back. So I was pretty bored and I was just looking to play some music with people because I had a show booked already and I figured why not try to get a band together for it. So I just reached out online, and Mike I already knew, so through that we got together to just play like a cover set for the most part, and just stuck with it.
Where does the name seeing double come from?
Zach Torncello: It’s an unfortunate story.
Mike Aaron: It’s funny, when I tell that story to people, half the time people are like, ‘Oh, that’s cute.’ Or they’re like, ‘You just made that up. That sounds fake.’ But I think that was the first time that we had all we had all hung out. [..] We had all gone to the pizzeria. And it got off to a great start and then we went outside this rainstorm that was happening while we were eating, as soon as we walked out it completely let up. And there was a double rainbow in the sky. It sounds really cliche when I say it outloud. […] It’s funny, for even a week or so after that we didn’t even have a name still. And then I was like, I think it should just be Seeing Double it just kind of makes sense.
What does your musical process look like now that you’re all back together on campus?
Allie Sandt: I think each process definitely looks different. For our first tracks “Leah” and “Don’t Wait” we recorded them mostly in the really nice studio we have here on campus. Then for “Take It or Leave It” and “Bygones” we did it ourselves. We always do drums in the nice studio just to get the best sound but Zach is an audio wizz and he set us up in his basement over the summer to record “Bygones” and we did all of the guitars and bass in one day. That was like a 12 hour day and then vocals, acoustic guitar, and keys Ali and I will do that separately in our apartment or rooms. We do that more after I try to comp all of the guitars and edit the bass before we lay down all the extra stuff on top. For “Bygones” though we started recording in July and then finished in October. It was a little spaced out with all of the different things we did.
Torncello: It wasn’t very linear. We kind of wrote it, we played it out a little bit and then added a few more things and then it kind of hit the drawing board and recorded it again.
Sandt: But honestly overall I really liked recording this one. I thought it was so fun especially the one day we went to Zach’s over the summer, we were just grinding all day and his parents got us like cold cuts *laughs*
Aaron: I was bringing down sandwiches for everyone, every two hours
Torncello: We were in this 80 degrees, small basement just grinding music. It was so much fun but we were low key really miserable in the moment but it’s a really fun memory
Memory. It’s really nice looking back.
How has it been performing again?
Sandt: We honestly have not done too many shows in Oneonta this semester. I think we’ve only done two, which is crazy because we used to be doing two a week. But we’ve slowed down on doing shows here because we’re trying to get out to other parts of New York we did like New Paltz, Syracuse and Ithaca. We’re just looking around to do more shows outside of our hometown.
Torncello: Honestly though, it’s really cool when we go to Ithaca and Syracuse to see how different the college communities are, in terms of their music. Not genre wise but their scene is so different. They just enjoy it differently than we do. So it’s so much fun when we get to go do things like Syracuse in particular. Syracuse is always so much fun. When we go to Syracuse there’s just such a warm welcome there.
Sandt: They’re crazy. It’s the cleanest house venue I’ve ever been to ‘cause it’s run by girls!
Torncello: Oh, they slay so hard.
Sandt: They mop before everyone comes over!
Torncello: If you mop your basement menu, you go so hard.
Sandt: Syracuse was a lot of fun. […] We just hopped on a winter tour with the Q-Tip Bandits for five shows.
Aaron: We’re playing five shows with the Q-Tip Bandits. We’re playing with them in Northampton, Massachusetts, Syracuse, and then playing New York, DC and Philly.
You guys mentioned you originally wanted to put out an EP with four songs on it as your first project. Now that these four singles are out there do you still think they should have been one project or have they taken on a life of their own?
Sandt: Originally, we were going to have “Leah”, “Don’t Wait” and two other random singles that we hadn’t written yet. That was back in fall of last year. And then I wrote “Take It or Leave It” and finished it in March and then finished “Bygones” in April. So we didn’t know about those songs or anything until later. […] But I think that [each song] sounds very different from each other in terms of the genre and style. They can all be put under rock, which is what we say they are for streaming platforms and everything. But I think there’s a similarity in “Leah” and “Bygones” for sure. They just kind of have a similar vibe and I think we like a lot of retro sounds so that kind of comes through on those two songs. Even “Take It or Leave It” has a 50s rockabilly kind of thing. I could see them on the same project but I am glad that we could split them up. Because as an artist who’s doing it independently, we love to take each song and make it its own thing and give it its own theme and colors. We change all of the branding for Instagram and stuff and we really go all out for every release. And that wouldn’t be the case if we group them together. So the plan is to keep doing singles for now, just because that’s like a really fun part of the process too. And that we can space it out.
Is releasing an EP still on your mind?
Aaron: We’ve talked about it, I just think we’re a very song by song kind of band. In the sense that Allie will write one song, brings it to us and then we work out our parts. We really like to flesh that one song out live. It’s not like we do like two songs at a time. It’s really one song at a time.
Sandt: It really is like: we write songs, record, play live, come up with another song and then write it. It’s probably not the smartest way to be doing things but it’s just what happens.
Torncello: It’s what works for us.
Aaron: They really get fleshed out that way. Especially playing them live. And then like recording them the way that we do, I think the process could be shorter, *laughs* but putting months into the song, I feel like you can definitely hear that with like “Bygones”
Sandt: Every time we put out a song I’m like, ‘Ugh it shouldn’t take this long next time.’ And that always does because we’re always doing a million other things.
Torncello: We definitely can’t say that we didn’t put in our due diligence.
Sandt: Oh yeah, we definitely put the most hours into it, and I’m so happy with how it came out. It sounds really polished. We got Justin Ryan Francis to mix this. He made the Disney Encanto soundtrack. That was so cool! We were like, ‘Let’s try to get a really professional mixing and mastering engineer.’ We did some research and found this guy and I listened to our songs back and forth, “Leah”, “Don’t Wait” and then this one. I really think the mixing shines on it. You can really hear every instrument which is really cool.
We touched on this, but you guys announced your tour with Q-Tip Bandits! What are you most excited to kind of bring to the touring and larger stages?
Sandt: I can’t wait to get over to DC. I’ve always noticed that we’ve had a lot of listeners from there who reached out to us asking us to get over there and we tried all summer. But no one took the bait. So it’s really cool that we have a chance now.
Aaron: I just think there’s such a big difference between, if we were to play a basement show in Syracuse versus when we played the Mercury Lounge or with the Bitter End. The vibe is just totally different between those.
Sandt: The vibe is more fancy *laughs*
Aaron: Not necessarily more fancy! But you could put more work into the actual production of our live shows. We talked about starting to maybe use backing tracks and stuff like that. We’re always going to be a live band and just kind of adding more to the live show element of it is something that I feel like I really want to work on as a group. So I think we’re most excited about this.
Torncello: I’m excited to make it to Philadelphia. *laughs*
Sandt: We almost made it there last time but we crashed the car *laughs” It’ll be really cool to get over there. I would agree about the live show element. I think transitions between songs are gonna be a lot of fun. That’s always something small that you don’t think of. But then when it’s the show, and there’s ded air you’re like ‘let’s get a move on.’ So we’re trying to come up with ways to make it one continuous set.
Bygones is out today! Congratulations. How are you feeling now that it’s out in the world?
Sandt: I was so nervous this week before it came out. I really like the song, I think it might be my favorite Seeing Double song, part of that is just because everyone brought their A game to the recording, there was no slacking off. Especially because I was producing it I would solo the tracks all the time and be editing them individually and every time I listened, I was just like, ‘Are you kidding me? This is so cool.’ Also shout out to Zach for the solo. I listened to that solo more than anything else! And I’m really happy it’s out now. I was nervous. But now I think I’m just relieved.
Aaron: Seeing everyone’s reactions to it this morning and stuff. People are texting about it and people really, really dig this one. People are saying it’s their favorite. Out of the four songs *laughs* People really dig this one and are saying it’s their favorite, a good chunk of people. I was also a little bit nervous too.
Sandt: Yeah, because before you put it out to the people that are really going to be listening to it we send it to radios and submit hub, and they’re way harsher critics then the people who have listened to us before are. It’s disheartening to keep going every day and like sending it off. Honestly, I love it because it’s really a good feeling when you do get a yes.
Aaron: I think a good example of this is that I made a list. I put maybe over 20 hours of effort into this. I made a list of all these college radio stations and all of their emails and stuff to submit music to. I think it got up to like 80 stations and I only heard back from two.
Sandt: But Seeing Double is playing in Alaska now!
Sandt: Seeing Double is also playing in Mexico!
Aaron: Well there you go. We’ve got some cool locations going on.
Sandt: Seeing Double all around the globe!
Aaron: Then there’s this thing called Submit Hub where you can submit your music for blogs and playlists and stuff. They all say they have a 2% acceptance rate so you go on they’re not expecting to get accepted. But when they all deny you-
Sandt: But the Mexico one didn’t!
Torncello: It hurts a little bit though, when you see ‘refunded’ or ‘rejected’ or’ listened to for 30 seconds.’
Sandt: It’s humbling, keeps us humble.
Aaron: That’s kind of why I was nervous because it’s a very different song than what we’ve done so far, sonically. So, when you put that into perspective, and then getting this feedback, it’s like, ‘well, damn/’
Sandt: Yeah, because that’s the first thing you hear. But honestly, I’m not really too beaten down by it. I was like, ‘this hasn’t even come out yet.’
What’s the inspiration behind “Bygones”?
Sandt: Musically, it kind of sounds like a spy theme song to me. I think it’s just that walk down.
I’m so glad you said that, I definitely felt it had a spooky element to it
Sandt: Yeah! We play at shows and I always introduce it as our take on the James Bond theme song. I don’t know how accurate that is, but it’s just kind of a fun little thing to throw in. I took a lot of inspiration from Queen for that guitar riff. And the song “Killer Queen” for the harmonies and Ali killed those, she was really on that day! And then I’m obsessed with this artist Madison Cunningham. I talk about it all the time. She is getting really big, she opened for Harry Styles a little bit ago. A lot of the lyrics and the flow and how Ali and I sing it is kind of from her. […] I think overall it’s a positive song, it’s in a minor key so it sounds like it could be a heartbreak song but it’s definitely not. It’s just about reassuring the important people in your life that they’re a part of it, which is cool because it’s definitely a contrast to the music before.
What was your favorite memory while recording “Bygones”
Aaron: I think recording Ali’s backup vocals in my basement. That was fun. [Allie] came up and when we record vocals we don’t do it in the studio we just do it in someone’s closet or living room. So we did it in my basement and I have like this storage locker and wardrobe kind of thing and Ali was standing in between it like recording the backup vocals that was really funny. There were blankets everywhere, very DIY.
Sandt: Ali has credit for the vibraslap
Torncello: Her first instrumental credit!
Sandt: My favorite memory I think was when we were recording [Zach’s] solo. It was just such a cool moment because once we got a few takes I was like ‘that’s all we need, we’re done’ it went really quickly. My least favorite memory [was] recording lead vocals. That is my one thing, I love singing for the band but when recording lead vocals I get so in my head. But I want to get over that. It was honestly just like a fun experience overall.
Aaron: It was just so sporadic with all the little memories from recording the song because it was done in so many places. It was just over such an extended period of time. There’s too many to pick from.
Torncello: I’m not really sure if this is considered a recording memory but after we had played “Bygones” a few times live, hearing the people sing it live while we played is just so surreal. Even though I have no part in writing the lyrics to the song but being a part of something and having other people have such a connection that they scream it live, it has the ability to just raise all the hairs on your body. It’s really crazy.
Sandt: It’s so cool.
Aaron: Before it even came out too.
Torncello: How do you learn lyrics from the lyrics that aren’t on the internet? I can’t do that.
Sandt: Yeah, I wonder if they’re actually singing the right lyrics
Torncello: like “na, na, California haunts me” *laughs*
Aaron: Maybe they’re just guessing
You guys have had that before with the tattoo incident, so you know I wouldn’t put it past people
Sandt: That was insane. That was the craziest thing that’s ever happened. This girl reached out to us and she was like, ‘I got a tattoo inspired by “Leah.”’
Aaron: The lyric in the song is “The lighter in my bedroom vanity” and she got tattooed on her body forever. “The liar in my bedroom vanity”
Torncello: Which is touching either way!
Sandt: It was so cool but also I had no words. I was like ‘Oh, no, please don’t be mad.’
Did you guys correct her?
All: She knew.
Sandt: She made this Tik Tok about the fact that it was wrong. It wasn’t even a big part of the day. The whole was like, ‘I’m getting a tattoo for my favorite band.’ And then at the end, it was like, ‘by the way, I spelled it wrong.’ I was like, this would be a bigger deal to me. You’re acting like this is really fine. I’m definitely gonna make sure the lyrics are up for “Bygones” in case that ever happens again.
This song feels like a very different type of rock. How has it been exploring sub genres within rock?
Sandt: I can’t even remember if we really pick what kind of sound we’re going for before we record it. It just kind of happens at the same time. For “Leah”, “Don’t Wait” and “Take It or Leave It” those are three very different sounding songs all under the umbrella of rock.
Aaron: I feel like those are more specific, you know what I mean? You have “Take It or Leave It” which is Rockabilly and “Don’t Wait” is very rooted in indie rock.
Sandt: This one is kind of giving glam rock to me
Aaron: It is a little bit with the guitars and stuff.
Sandt: Especially with the tone Zach has. I mean, you like that genre.
Torncello: I wouldn’t really say that’s glam rock tone. I almost want to say that there’s a little tiny smidgen of pop in there.
Sandt: Oh, yeah, for sure. Yeah, it sounds more like a pop rock song than “Take It or Leave It” or “Don’t Wait”. But the song was not really written as a genre kind of song, it was more like, ‘Oh this sounds like it should be ‘Spy Kids.’ So it was based on that idea.
Aaron: Spy rock
Torncello: I like that we write like that though. We don’t write saying “we should write a rock song” we just write what sounds good and release it.
Sandt: There’s so many elements that go into that when we get into the practice room. For the first time, we just play it through, very simply. And then Mike and Zach will say ‘Let’s have some hits here.’ and then that’s the second verse and that’s like, such a big part of the song. And then Dylan comes up with a really cool shuffle for the bridge.
Aaron: And then that changes the whole bridge after that
Sandt: Totally, so it’s a song and then everyone brings all of these different elements to it that makes it like what it is now.
The guitar solo is groovy. How was it crafting that solo, Zach?
Torncello: To be honest, until this year, I really don’t have much experience writing solos, or writing any kind of music. I just got into it because Mike and Allie really do a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to Seeing Double. And I wanted to get involved, mostly because, I’m gonna be honest, I was jealous. There’s a lot of fun to it, there’s glory to it, I wanted to be involved. So the bridge there’s this chord progression underneath.
Sandt: It sounds like a sea shanty.
Torncello: It kind of does. It sounds like it doesn’t really fit but I love it. And I was like, ‘let me mirror that almost.’ So it came together once I mirrored what the harmony was doing. It kind of wrote itself and it made it really easy for someone who doesn’t really have experience.
Sandt: It does not sound like you don’t have experience.
Torncello: Looking at it from a theory standpoint. It’s pretty simple and it’s gotten a lot of appreciation from fans so I’m very happy with it.
In terms of the visuals for “Bygones” the magnifying glass cover is awesome. What’s the story behind that prop?
Sandt: Oh, I’m so glad you asked! I can’t remember who thought of the magnifying glass, it might have been me because we were talking about the spy thing so it kind of fit. Then Mike was like ‘what if we do a sort of “Hard Day’s Night,” Beatles inspired thing with the boxes and then we can each be holding a magnifying glass’ and I thought that was a great idea. So the next step was finding one.
Aaron: Well the first idea was we were gonna find a giant magnifying glass and then all be underneath that.
Aaron: But we couldn’t find any like big magnifying glasses
Sandt & Torncello: Wait, What?!
Torncello: I don’t remember that at all.
Sandt: I didn’t interpret it like that!
Aaron: Maybe I’m the only one who interpreted it like that. *laughs* I thought we were just gonna find a giant magnifying glass and be under it. I thought that would be cool!
Sandt: That would have been cool. So we needed to find a magnifying glass. It fell into my lap so I was like ‘this is my job, I’ll try to find one’ […] I went to Office Depot, Walmart looked online, and they were all utility ones. As a last ditch effort I went to this antique warehouse in Oneonta that’s three floors. And I went up to them like, ‘Do you have a magnifying glass here?’ and they said “We have one.” I don’t want to tell you how much money it was.
Torncello: Do you have it!
Aaron: We could play, The Price Is Right, right now!
We could play The Price Is Right. Double or triple digits?
Torncello & Aaron: Double digits
Torncello: You’re pretty close, not gonna lie.
Aaron: Ball park around there.
Sandt: *enters with magnifying glass* It was $49, but that’s a lot for a magnifying glass. It’s like five pounds, it’s heavy! It’s a little bent.
Aaron: It’s old.
Sandt: I found it and we took the pictures and we had our friend Marnie take [the pictures] in the basement of one of the fine arts buildings on campus. [She took] individual headshots of us. I got them back and I tried putting them in a Beatles [style collage]. It just did not look right at first so kind of played around with it and we ended up with a house shape. And then I was like ‘This is Clue, the board game.’ and we just went with it and it was so much fun. That is like my favorite cover I’ve made. I also made cover art for Teddy Holly […] I’m in my graphic design era.
You have shared in the past that “Bygones” was a band favorite. Now that you have played it and it’s out do you still feel that way?
Sandt: Out of our four songs […] I think “Bygones” is still my favorite but usually it’s whatever’s newest. We have another song that’s going to be coming out in the next few months called E&B.
Torncello: I’m not gonna lie. All right you’re gonna get the inside scoop because I haven’t even told the band yet but E&B is my new favorite. E&B makes me illogically so emotional, I get so fuzzy inside. I don’t know why, I just love E&B so much. But I still there’s a special spot in my heart for “Bygones” though because it’s the first solo I’ve written.
Aaron: I think recording wise “Bygones” is my favorite but “Leah” to play live. Just seeing how people react to that song live, there’s nothing like it. But people also really dig “Bygones” live too. So it’s kind of a tough answer. I do like E&B though playing that live is fun.
Torncello: I’m not even kidding. When we finished at the bowling alley. I was almost tearing up.
You guys played at a bowling alley?
Sandt: Oh, yeah! We were in Syracuse for that show and they have this collective called the “Culture Cauldron.” They take artists and record them playing one cover and one original song in different, weird locations. So we did ours in a bowling alley. They set us up by the lanes after it was closed and recorded us doing these two songs. It was the coolest experience doing a live recorded performance. It was so cool. We played E&B and then Ali sang lead on “Black Horse and the Cherry Tree” by KT Tunstall.
What is next for Seeing Double?
Sandt: The Q-Tip Bandits tour is going to be a big thing. The new song E&B is finished. We’re halfway through recording it right now. Like we said we like to take long breaks in between each part. Because other things just get in the way. But this song is going to be the main focus now that “Bygones” is out. I think it’s really Christmas-y, it’s really winter-y. I’m beyond excited for it to come out because all of our songs have been so upbeat and really polished and pop rock, I’d say, and this one is way more toned down and acoustic. I just really like it so I’m excited for people to get that one
Aaron: I’m excited for people here E&B too, we gotta get on the recording grind for that.
Torncello: We’ve been slacking off a little
Aaron: It’s a Christmas-y song. I do see that.
Sandt: It’s not a Christmas song.
Aaron: No, it’s not a Christmas song but it’s very ‘driving home for the holidays’
Torncello: with a slight flurry.
Sandt: Ok poets!
Aaron: That is kind of the vibe. The next song so very different from “Bygones”
Finally, Seeing Double who are you counting in?
Torncello: Oh! Come here big guy! We’re shouting out it’s Teddy Holly, he’s actually here with us right now! He’s dropping an EP on the 18th called “Better Late Than Never.”
Sandt: Five tracks, all killer.
Aaron: I second that.
Torncello: He’s got two two songs released already that are fire. “In The Morning” that’s one of my favorites. I’m learning it right now.
Sandt: I’d also like to shout out Mirabella Phinney. She’s actually one of my roommates. She just put out this beautiful folk EP. It’s so cool. Ali, Bella and I are all roommates and we all sing harmonies for each other’s songs. So it’s really fun.