When I think of bands from Pennsylvania, I often think about bands from Philly. Waxahatchee, The War On Drugs, Spirit of the Beehive, and more. But, Pennsylvania is a big state, and it’s got a number of lesser-known cities. Lancaster County is not just home to Amish communities and antique stores, but also is the landscape for some wildly creative bands.
Shoegazers Vicious Blossom find themselves surrounded by the flora and fauna of Eastern Pennsylvania. In late April, the members of Vicious Blossom made their record Solace at The Kaleidoscope in Lancaster. It’s a collection of very dreamy, ambient, atmospheric songs, but those songs still have a strong sense of melody.
Songs like “Sway” are equal parts Robert Smith and Kevin Shields. It’s a gorgeous record, sure to make any fans of shoegaze drift off into deep spacey wonder. ??I had the privilege of speaking with Nate Zerbe and Bri Gilotte, the guitarists and vocalists for Vicious Blossom about the recording and writing process for Solace. Check out the interview below:
All of the big shoegaze/dream pop references are there with this record – My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, etc. What is a band that has been a big influence outside of shoegaze bands?
Nate – A lot of 80’s and 90’s alternative acts have been a big inspiration for me. Artists like REM, Pink Floyd, Flaming Lips, Smashing Pumpkins and Ween. There are too many to name though, there have been so many influential bands and artists that I’ve taken inspiration from throughout the years.
Bri – A lot of different artists have inspired my music and songwriting over the years. Some of the biggest influences have been Radiohead, Trespassers Willam, Bright eyes, Mazzy Star and Angel Olsen.
The challenge for being a dream pop band, in my opinion, is having hooks to grab on to on top of the shimmering guitar chords and big wall of sound. You all manage to write very catchy, memorable melodies. Is that something you’re conscious of when writing?
Nate – I feel that I am conscious of the writing of my melodies most of the time. Growing up I was always listening to a lot of pop genres of music, so the idea of having songs very focused on catchy melodies definitely rubbed off on me and became something that flows naturally during our writing process.
Bri – The melody is one of the most important things for me, during the songwriting process. I feel like the melody can either make or break a song, so I’ve always been very focused on that aspect of writing. I strive to write melodies that are ear-catching but also portray the lyrics nicely.
What was the writing process like for Solace? Musically? Lyrically?
Nate – The writing process for Solace definitely took a lot of patience and work. A lot of the songs went through many changes until we felt that we were completely happy with them. I feel that writing this album has been the first musical piece of work I’ve done that is very focused and polished from beginning to end. It was very liberating for me to focus on the aspect of portraying all of the emotions in the lyrics to create a perfect blend into the instrumentation.
Bri – I enjoyed the writing process of Solace. All of the songs I did for this album I wrote within just a few months. I was very inspired and motivated for this album and some of the best songs I’ve written came out of that.
What was it like recording at The Kaleidoscope?
Nate- Recording at The Kaleidoscope was very comfortable. I’m lucky to have really gotten to know the crew at the studio before recording there because it allowed me to not have to deal with any pressure or fear of judgment. I think that recording there really allowed me to open up and experiment.
Bri- Recording at the Kaleidoscope was very welcoming and laid back.
I’m always curious about gear used to make records. Any interesting/exciting gear you used on Solace?
Nate – Some of my favorite sounds we got on this album were made with some great gear. Most of the guitar was recorded with the TC Electronic Hall of Fame, MXR Analog Chorus, and the Earthquaker Devices Rainbow Machine. Though my pedal board set up is often changing, the Analog Chorus is one I will always keep on there. We also used an Electric Bow paired with the Rainbow Machine on “Vertigo,” which was a cool addition to add some texture to the song.
Despite Solace’s airy and catchy music, there’s a lyrical heaviness. Were these lyrics inspired by specific events or just the general atmosphere around Lancaster?
Nate – All of my lyrics are inspired by events in my life. My songwriting is basically an open diary.
Bri – My lyrics are about personal emotions or events. Music has always an outlet for those sorts of things.
You live in Lancaster County, PA, which is a pretty conservative part of the state. What is it like playing music there? Has it been difficult to cultivate a scene?
Nate – Playing music in Lancaster can have some obstacles at times. We do have some great parts of our music scene around here, but it is a very small community. Currently, there are only a few bands in the area with similar sounds to us so it can be hard at times to cultivate a thriving scene. But, we do have some great small venues and musicians in Lancaster.
What’s next for Vicious Blossom?
Nate – This summer we are recording a new single and having a notable band remix the song for us. Currently, we are beginning writing for another album or EP.