The Hangout Music Fest is just mere weeks away. It will not be long until a multitude of music fans from around the globe descend upon Gulf Shores for three days of sun, surf and sound.

With bands such as Outkast, The Killers and Modest Mouse scheduled to perform, the festival is maintaining its reputation for bringing some of the best in musical entertainment. However, the festival also has maintained its reputation for introducing some the brightest up-and-comers in the music industry such as Empires.

Chicago is famous for being a breeding ground for some of the most legendary bands in alt rock. Bands such as The Smashing Pumpkins, OK Go and Wilco all call the Windy City their home.

Empires has joined this exclusive club. However, they are not new to the music scene. This band has spent the past six years as a DIY band. Empires recently exchanged their DIY way of life for a contract with Chop Chop/Island Records.

Since signing, the band has been busy recording their first major label release “Orphan.” In mid-March, Empires showcased their new album at SXSW. According to vocalist Sean Van Vleet, the reception their new sounds received were more than satisfying.

“The reaction was better than anything that we’ve played in the past,” said Van Vleet. “It was very refreshing doing SXSW and playing what we wanted to play and seeing a good reaction.”

The rest of their fans have been sampling “Orphan” through their first single, “How Good Does It Feel.” This track shows a modern power pop band that has expertly riddled their music with overtones from the British New Wave movement of the ’80s. This combination should transverse various tastes and generations with its catchy vibe.

Van Vleet owes the album’s sound to producer John Congleton (Modest Mouse, The Polyphonic Spree, Erykah Badu). This is high praise for a band that has maintained a DIY mentality for many years. According to Van Vleet, Congleton’s methods required the band to accentuate their sonic core.

“John would sort through the ideas that he thought was too much,” said Van Vleet. “He took them away and took the essential elements of the songs and stripped everything that was unnecessary away from the song. It gave us this fulfilling bareness. It’s bare, but it’s everything that you need in a song.”

When Lagniappe spoke with Van Vleet, “Orphan” had just been submitted to their label. The vocalist explained that they are currently looking at a late summer/early fall release. Until then, they are reaping the benefits of being a signed band.

“It’s really hands-on, and it’s really a respectful relationship,” said Van Vleet. “I have nothing but good things to say about the process, so far. They (Chop Chop/Island) allowed us to make the record that we wanted to make. They gave us input on a very inspiring level.”