Been There & Done That:
The Echo recently sat down with Ava, Izzy, Katie and Carson of BTDT (formerly Been There Done That) to learn more about their band, how they got started here in the Quad Cities, and some advice they have to share for other musicians starting out in the QC area.
Left to Right: Katie, Carson, Izzy, and Ava – Band members of BTDT (Photo provided by BTDT EPK)
BTDT has been rocking stages since forming the band as pre-teens. Talented way beyond their years, BTDT has a long list of accolades including: the 2018 Winner of Iowa Rock & Roll Music Association’s Youth Rocks Contest, the Winner of 2016 & 2019 QCRA Battle of the Bands, a secured spot on 97x’s 40th Anniversary album, and a spot on i-Rock 93.5’s Local Stage CD (as well as a bonus track). Additionally, BTDT’s lead singer Ava was a co-winner of 2020’s Voice of the QC contest and the band opened the local iHeart Radio Socially Distant Festival.
These talented young artists have a sound all their own as an amazing indie rock band with a long list of original tunes who just so happens to play amazing pop rock covers as well. BTDT features Ava on lead vocals & rhythm guitar, Katie on lead guitar, Izzy on bass & vocals and their newest member, Carson on drums & vocals. BTDT may be young, but they’ve been playing venues from The Rust Belt to The Capitol Theater not to mention various festivals and venues around the Midwest for years. They perform for music lovers of all ages and continue to evolve as a collective creative force everyday. The band’s first EP “Pretty Lies” was recorded at Catamount Recording Studio and a portion of their music can be found across all digital music platforms along with their latest album “Blame the Stars”.
WHAT’S YOUR GO-TO ON-TOUR FOOD CHOICE?
Katie: “Definitely McDonald’s”
Izzy: “Any deli sandwich place. If there’s a Jersey Mike’s within 50 miles we’re going there.”
Carson: “I’d have to go with Culver’s probably.”
Ava: “Dominos. One time we ordered like 10 garlic sauces with our pizza and they forgot the sauces! I need the sauces! It was a whole ordeal but we eventually got them. I still love Dominos.”
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST GIG??
Ava: “We played a festival at Modern Woodman park where the ferris wheel is now, just three songs. One of which being Faithfully by Journey… we never played that again. We were just 11 and 13 years old and didn’t really know what we were doing yet and it was just awful.”
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE VENUES TO PLAY HERE IN THE QUAD CITIES?
Carson: “Bass Street Landing.”
Izzy: “The Rust Belt.”
Katie: “The Tangled Wood.”
Ava: “Same answer as Izzy, The Rust Belt.”
Left to Right: BTDT members (Left to right) Izzy, Ava, and Katie shredding on the big stage (Photo provided by BTDT EPK & Jeff Hackbarth)
CARSON, WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING THE ONLY GUY IN AN OTHERWISE ALL-GIRL BAND?
Carson: “I just do as I’m told.”he said with a laugh. “No, honestly, guys can be really dry sometimes, not want to talk, but with these girls there is always something to talk about.”
Ava: “Oh my gosh do we give him the gossip.”
Izzy: “One time we made him sit on a toilet in our dressing room and guess our makeup products. He thought bronzer was deodorant!”
Carson: “It looked like deodorant!”
Ava: “We absolutely adore Carson. When we were looking for a new drummer we thought about looking for another girl but we just had so much Chemistry with Carson, and he is just so good. He can jump in with a beat to any song, unrehearsed and it’s just like, thank you!”
IF YOU WEREN’T MUSICIANS, WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’D BE DOING NOW?
Carson: “I’d be a writer, for a newspaper somewhere.”
Izzy: “That would have to be a mortician or the person who does autopsies.”
Katie: “Well, I’m currently studying engineering so I am kind of getting the best of both worlds right now.”
Ava: “I’d be homeless. Music is truly my only choice. It has always been my one and only passion. If I had to do something else, I just couldn’t do it.”
HOW DID YOU GUYS GET STARTED IN THE QUAD CITIES?
Izzy: “Several of us went through the Rock 101 program at the QC Rock Academy.”
Carson: “In addition to the Rock Academy I was always really involved in music in school growing up.”
Ava: “I actually started at Music Go Round with private lessons before the QC Rock Academy, when I was 7 years old and then followed my music teacher over.”
Izzy: “We actually have a picture of us from when we were really young at the QC Rock Academy that we are both (Izzy and Ava) in before we knew each other and we always look back at that photo and laugh.”
Ava: “My first band was called Ava and the Black Dragons and we were something else.” she said with a laugh.
Left to Right: Izzy, Carson, Ava, and Katie – BTDT performing as a new band (Photo provided by BTDT)
TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR NAME CHANGE.
Ava: “We’ve been Been There Done That for 6 years now and we were ready for something new. We wanted to celebrate our new drummer and show the growth and maturity of the band. We’ve always wanted to change our name but there was never a good time.”
Izzy: “Actually it was the 2016 Battle of the Bands when we had to come up with a name and Been There Done That was the best we could think of at the time and then we won! We had to keep the name then. Then we kept growing and it just kind of stuck.”
Ava: “We like that our tried and true fans will know what BTDT means but new fans are free to speculate on what the BTDT stands for.”
BTDT members (Photo provided by BTDT Epk)
WHAT IS YOUR NEW MUSIC PROCESS LIKE?
Ava: “A lot of times Izzy will come up with a chord progression and we’ll workshop it.”
Izzy: “Katie will add in the guitar riffs which are always so cool. And Carson will jump in with a beat to give us direction every time without hesitation. Other times Ava will come up with a melody and some lyrics and we will come together and kind of fill in the rest. She kind of writes songs like Mad Libs.”
Ava: “I like that description. I really do. Izzy is great and filling in the blanks.”
Izzy, Ava, & Katie in the pocket (Photo provided by Jeff Hackbarth)
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER QUAD CITY MUSICIANS JUST GETTING STARTED?
Izzy and Katie: “Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Don’t focus on trying to be the next insert famous person here, be who you are as an original even if you feel like people aren’t responding at first.”
Carson: “Listen to a variety of music. My playlist is all over the place!”
Ava: “If you’re passionate about music in high school don’t quit when you graduate. That doesn’t have to be the end. If you truly love what you are doing you will find a way to continue.
Katie: “Oh! Don’t be afraid to play any venue.”
Ava: “That’s a good one. We’ve played tiny stages that led to connections that allowed us to play stages like The Rust Belt. You just never know where something will lead.”
Izzy: “Don’t get caught up in the money aspect of it. When you’re first starting out you’ll play a lot of free shows and even when you’re established charity shows and free community shows are a good idea. Also open mic nights!”
Ava: “Yes, open mic nights are key. The Gypsy Highway has one of the most inclusive and welcoming open mics in our area and we highly recommend it.”
Izzy: “Also don’t let your age deter you. Or the fact that you are a woman musician. A lot of times people will talk down to you or assume you don’t know what you are doing but you just have to be confident and show that you mean business.”
IF THERE WAS ONE THING YOU WANTED YOUR FANS TO REMEMBER ABOUT YOU, WHAT WOULD THAT BE?
Ava: “That we are so thankful for their support. If it weren’t for them spreading the word to their friends and family we wouldn’t be getting the bigger gigs that we are now.”
Carson: “That we are a lot of fun to watch. We really do have fun on stage and you can see that in our performances.”
Izzy: “That our age doesn’t define our professionalism. We want to be a reflection of the younger generation of musicians here in the Quad Cities, and the future of what is to come. We are young but not naive and we aren’t to be underestimated.”
As we wrapped up our discussion it was clear that this group of young women (and one gentleman) are a true force to be reckoned with. We’re looking so forward to catching them this spring and summer on stages around the area.
LEARN MORE ABOUT: BTDT
May 19th at the NewBo City Market in Cedar Rapids
May 27th BBQ & Brew Fest in Centerville, IA
June 2nd for the City of Bettendorf Birthday Bash at Tangled Wood in Bettendorf, IA
June 17th at the Project of the QC Pride Event at Bass Street Landing in Moline, IL
June 23rd at the Trekfest in Riverside, IA
June 30th at Party at the Park in Charles City, IA
July 29th at Arnolds Park for Live at the Lake at Lake Okoboji, IA