ABOVE: BLEEDING RAINBOW. PHOTO COURTESY OF CHAD YANAGISAWA
Breaking out of Philadelphia can be an uphill battle—while the encouraging environment can foster some of the best music in the country, actually leaving the comfort of the city of brotherly love is a challenge. Bleeding Rainbow, formerly a two-piece by the name of Reading Rainbow, has done that and more, bringing their blistering live show to a large number of cities across the country and gaining the appreciation of many as a frighteningly powerful live band. With their patiently honed blend of shoegaze pop, and punk, Bleeding Rainbow attempts the difficult—mixing hard with soft.
On its fourth album, Interrupt, the band has filled out its crushing sound by striking a balance between vocalist Sarah Everton’s soft alto and guitarist Rob Garcia’s dense low-end. The duo work remarkably well together, but do so with the help of guitarist Al Creedon and recently-recruited drummer Ashley Arnwine, managing a sound that feels ready to bust out of the packaging and out onto the stage. The five of us met at Williamsburg’s Vanessa’s Dumplings before their most recent New York show, and talked all things Philly, Interrupt, and what it’s like to tour forever.
DAYNA EVANS: Philly is an interesting place to be from right now. Everybody talks about in this mythologized way, all these bands coming out. Do you have any thoughts on that?
SARAH EVERTON: I think it’s hard for us to know that that’s a thing since we live there, I didn’t know that. It’s hard to have that perception when you’re in it.
ROB GARCIA: Ever since we were a band, we’ve known a million other bands, and the scene is very small, so you know everybody.
EVANS: Do you like playing in New York?
GARCIA: It’s always kind of stressful, because of the jobs that we have to have so that we can make money to actually play music. We usually drive back every single night. All of our friends are like, “You’re driving back, what?”
EVERTON: It’s really not that crazy!
GARCIA: It’s Saturday tomorrow, some of us have to work.
EVANS: What’s the impetus to start playing more shows here?
GARCIA: I feel like we had a break for a while, but now that we have a new album coming out, we’re back a lot more.
EVERTON: And it’s close. A lot of our friends play here. It’s nice living in Philly and being in a band because if you play Philly too much, you can just go to New York and Baltimore and elsewhere. You can still play shows all the time but you’re not just forced to be in Philly.
EVANS: Do you think that Philly has a sort of insular scene and that it might be hard to get out?
AL CREEDON: Most of my favorite bands from Philly haven’t gotten out of the city for some reason, but definitely some of them are starting to. Like Amanda X just played up here at a big show.
EVANS: Why do you think that is, that a lot of bands don’t make it out of Philly?
CREEDON: I think people are really content to just play to their friends, which is what kind of makes it so unique. People are just doing everything for each other. And there are definitely bands that go on tour and try, but for the most part, people just like putting bands together and kind of enjoying the process. It’s less competitive. It’s less career-driven. They exist to have fun.
EVANS: Do you see Bleeding Rainbow that way?
EVERTON: We’re a full-time band, whatever that means.
GARCIA: We don’t have normal jobs so that we can be available to do long tours. Just this past year, we did something like four U.S. tours or something ridiculous. Between last year and the year before, it was even more. But we still don’t make enough money, so we’re not delusional about it.
EVERTON: We’re not a successful full-time band.
GARCIA: But we are fully committed to it.
CREEDON: There are a lot of bands outside of Philly who have this straight frame of mind, but we just do a lot of things. And we like it. Philly just has this whole less-pressured vibe.
GARCIA: Most of the bands in Philly are not pretentious, as well, which I feel like a lot of bands in New York sort of are.
EVANS: Would you ideally like for it to be a full-time thing?
EVERTON: I mean, it is, but we’d like to be able to make money so we’re not scrambling to pay our rent and our mortgage all the time.
GARCIA: I wash dishes and work for a moving company. Sarah is a coffee barista.
CREEDON: I work at a recording studio as an assistant.
ASHLEY ARNWINE: I work at a grocery store, and I just started building amps and cabs.
EVANS: Do you get to practice in the place that you live?
GARCIA: Sarah and I really lucked out, because the house that we live in has a full basement so we’re able to practice there, and the neighbors don’t care, and it’s really cheap. When Sarah and I were living in Virginia and we wanted to move, we didn’t want to live in Baltimore or D.C., and New York was too expensive, so we were like, “Let’s move to Philly.”
EVANS: It seems like a new destination for a lot of bands.
EVERTON: Hunters just moved down to Philly. We’re going on tour with them next month.
CREEDON: I feel like if you’re from Philly at some point, you’re always known as a Philly band. I still think of U.S. Girls as a Philly band. People move away and you are still a Philly band. You started here.
GARCIA: We’re always holding on to things, like we raised them.
EVANS: Your fourth album is coming out-are you nervous, excited?
EVERTON: We’re excited!
GARCIA: Yeah, probably more excited with this than on any other album.
EVERTON: We’re excited about it every time.
GARCIA: But yeah, on this one we’re just in a better headspace. We’re not expecting anything grand or anything, we’re just excited to go tour on it. We’re excited to play songs from it, and then we’re also excited to write the next album.
EVANS: How do you feel this album differs from past albums?
EVERTON: It came together really quickly. We were able to demo songs as a band, working out of hotel rooms on tour and stuff. We actually recorded it in a two-week span between two tours, and since we recorded it live, it was a much more natural experience. We were able to bust it out really fast.
GARCIA: This album, more than any other album we’ve done, the songs were written for a strong four-piece. We were used to playing as a four-piece by this point. On the last album, we were used to playing as a three-piece when we went into the recording, but by the end of the album we were a four-piece. It was a weird transition where we didn’t really know how it worked live as a four-piece.
EVERTON: It sounds really clichéd to say, but that was a transitional album.
CREEDON: We got a new drummer for the last three songs. Not many bands add a new drummer at the end of recording.
GARCIA: With this album, we’re on a lot of tours playing as a four-piece. We knew what we were good at achieving live and what our strong points were, so when we played live, we knew exactly what we could do.
EVANS: What are those things that you think you do well and that you excel at?
GARCIA: It’s more abstract than something you can just define.
EVERTON: We excel at really tight, poppy punk songs that aren’t pop-punk. It’s definitely not pop-punk.
GARCIA: We like elements of harsh noise, and we like pop song structures. We’re good at writing pop songs, and we like to be loud and noisy.
CREEDON: Where we were at, I don’t think we were in the mindset to do another record with lots of parts and lots of layers and stuff. I feel like part of making records is not having one thing. You go through phases where you’re trying out new things. We’d been touring a lot and playing fast and loud a lot, so we wanted to do a fast and loud record. It reflects where you are when you’re writing this stuff.
EVANS: What is that process like when you are on the road and writing songs?
GARCIA: It was fun. We were literally in hotel rooms with all of our guitars, playing through little practice amps. When were writing songs for this album, we were on this really long, six-and-a-half week tour with a band that we didn’t jell well with. I think that frustration really led into the writing of this record.
CREEDON: When you’re on tour with a band that you don’t hang out with, you end up hanging out with your own band a lot more, so we were just vibing.
EVANS: With the lineup changes you have had over time, do you think that’s affected the way you guys jell as a band?
GARCIA: Where we were when we were writing the songs for this album, and where we are now, having Ashley play drums for us, was exactly what we wanted to have. We were always like, “She is one of the best drummers in Philly, we have to have her in our band.” We’re so ecstatic now. We recorded our album with Robby Gonzales, who plays drums in A Place to Bury Strangers, so he was full-time in that band, and we were in between tours with a drummer that we knew wasn’t going to be permanent, so having Ashley in the band really reinvigorated us to be really excited about moving forward and what we’re going to do in the future.
EVANS: Is this the solid lineup now?
EVERTON: We certainly hope so.
EVANS: What kinds of themes do you think you’re trying to touch on with this record?
GARCIA: A lot of the lyrics on the record touch on not being in control, abusive relationships, not even physical, just bad relationships. Trying to stop a cycle that you keep getting stuck in and you’re aware of and you can’t stop.
EVERTON: But I think it’s also way more optimistic, though. With the last album, I was way more angsty with writing the lyrics and this album felt way better, more therapeutic in a positive way.
BLEEDING RAINBOW’S INTERRUPT IS OUT NOW ON KANINE RECORDS. FOR MORE ON THE BAND, PLEASE VISIT ITS WEBSITE.