See daephne while you can. The four piece bummer rock act–bassist Laura Brogan, guitarist Ryan Higgins, singer Alexa Johnson, drummer Julian Berosh–aren’t sticking around Massachusetts much longer.
Brogan and the rest moved into her house in Medford to save up, buy cars, and drive out to California in a year or so. “Alexa is out there for some personal medical reasons,” says Brogan. “She’s probably not coming back, but we’re going to move out west probably and meet up to continue doing things out there.” With their sights now set on Portland, Oregon, the rest of the band is ready to swap coasts in order to keep the band alive.
daephne’s current lineup took shape in November of last year when their new drummer, Julian Berosh, played with them at All About Records in Taunton. “His other band played before us and, at the time, our old drummer was being super flakey,” explains Brogan. “He stopped showing up and we didn’t know if we could keep doing this. We still love him, but it was an issue. I ended up having to play drums at this show and we got someone else to fill in on bass. Once we saw Julian’s band play, though, we were like, ‘Wow, this kid is so much better than the rest of his band.’ He bummed a cigarette off us outside that night and we put the offer out there right away to join our band instead.”
Brogan’s nonchalance suggests another key aspect of the band’s style: every member is a renaissance figure but will never brag about it. When someone doesn’t show up to practice or can’t make a show, they play musical chairs as necessary, taking turns swapping spots for certain instruments, a feat most bands can’t do. More importantly, they support each other no matter which instrument someone is playing or how long they’ve been going at it. “I used to be in a band where everything I wrote would get shut down,” Brogan recalls. “Everything I brought in was never good enough. It gave me band anxiety. But with daephne, things I bring to the table and heard and usually tried out.”
“A lot of bass in rock bands get lost,” adds Higgins. “Laura acts like a rhythm guitarist but on bass. That’s not common. It brings a lot out in the music.”
Since Johnson packed her bags and left for the west coast to take care of herself, daephne were left scrambling to finish the LP. Her vocals, an obviously prominent part of their sound, were literally recorded the day before she left. “She bought a plane ticket and told us she was leaving, so we had to coordinate really quickly with the engineer to hop in the studio and record,” laughs Brogan. “We did all of the vocals in one night. One night! It was crazy. Then the next day, Alexa was gone.”
At long last, their debut full-length, Full Circle, comes out in the fall, but they’re promoting it as a trio despite the recording being the four of them. Johnson can’t technically play daephne shows this year. Gia Greene, Johnson’s current stand-in vocalist, is pursuing academia too much to fill in full time. Expect some more long song titles (“Sharpness Is the Game I Play”, “Jump Right Into My Nightmare, the Water’s Warm”) and fruit-based absurdities (“Peach”, “Plum”), but prepare to part ways with the ‘90s midwestern emo sound of their Family Vacation demo. Full Circle is a totally new direction.
“We’ve actually gone grunge now,” admits Brogan. “It’s still ‘90s, but there’s shoegaze mixed in there with a Smashing Pumpkins vibe. It’s definitely a lot more hard-hitting than the demo, but it’s cool because Alexa’s vocals still work over it really well.” Since they all come from different musical backgrounds–emo, pop, punk–they’re able to mesh their partial favorites into a fresh variant of the rock genre.
Before expectations begin to crawl higher, let’s get something straight: daephne aren’t trying to be an emo band. “Everyone is hopping on this emo revival bandwagon, but we’re not,” says Higgins. “Don’t say we are. I don’t even want to be emo in the first place.”
“Emo is like, you know, whatever, people dig it and our lyrics are in the realm of emo-tivity, but we don’t want to call ourselves that,” says Brogan. “It’s one thing if someone is writing about the music and that’s the genre they hear. But we, as people, aren’t like that. We aren’t trying to fit this emo standard and drink emo cocktails and wear emo shirts and say emo things. We’re just hanging out and writing the kind of music we like. The new circle is grunge-influenced, but we’re already writing new stuff for our future-future release and that’s changing all the time. No matter what, don’t expect Full Circle to contribute to that emo revival bandwagon. Trust us. Emo is cool, but we’re not swimming in that pool.”
DAEPHNE + ELIZABETH COLOUR WHEEL + BEEEF. WED 9/16. O’BRIEN’S PUB, 3 HARVARD AVE., ALLSTON. 8:30PM/18+/$8. OBRIENSPUBBOSTON.COM.