ABOVE: BLEEDING RAINBOW
Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow isn’t easy to introduce. The band, which started a few years ago as a duo, was comprised of Sarah Everton on drums and vocals and Rob Garcia on guitar. Their moniker at the time was Reading Rainbow, which refers to a popular children’s program and consequentially prompted a lot of annoying and predictable interview questions regarding the TV show and whether confused moms would occasionally show up at their concerts. Since then, the group has modified its name, expanded into quartet with the addition of Al Creedon on second guitar and Greg Frantz on drums (Everton now plays bass), and been subjected to a barrage of labels. Bleeding Rainbow’s music has been referred to as garage-pop, indie pop, twee, shoegaze, “loud-quiet-loud jams,” and the list goes on. Curious to hear from the apparently nebulous musicians in their own words, Interview caught up with Sarah Everton over the phone.
She was quick to express her frustrations at being labeled as a cutesy married couple, although the superficial trappings that would invite that description are all there. From the way she speaks of Garcia, it’s evident that their relationship is filled with mutual admiration and inspiration, shared artistic endeavors, and wholesome culinary predilections (at the beginning of our interview, for example, we overheard her gently asking him to watch the quinoa while she stepped out of the room). Although it’s a neat and highly consumable little narrative, to pigeonhole the band as such would be lazy and insufficient: Bleeding Rainbow is devoted to evolution, testing the limits of genre, and creating a fun experience for everyone involved.
MEMBERS: Sarah Everton, Rob Garcia, Al Creedon, Greg Frantz
HOMETOWN: Philadelphia, PA
SIZE MATTERS: Al and Greg both are really on the same wavelength in terms of the music that we’re playing. So really the only adjustments we have to make are just kind of interpersonal; you know, being considerate of each other. Like, I would accidentally respond to emails without consulting everyone right away when we were a four-piece for the first time. I was so used to just responding right away and being like, “Yes” and “No,” and then somebody would be like, “What? No!”
BEING THE FEMALE BASS PLAYER: I had a lot of ambivalence about playing bass, because I love playing guitar. But I just started playing not that long ago, so I don’t really know what I’m doing yet. And, you know, we already have two guitar players. And so, it’s like, “Man, I’m gonna be the girl playing bass in a band full of dudes. This sucks.” But I love not being stuck behind the drums. It’s so much fun. And I still get to play guitar sometimes. But it’s really funny. That’s part of the reason why I bleached my hair, because I thought it would be funny—like, “Look, I’m like Kim Gordon or D’arcy, ha ha.”
ON BEING WRITTEN OFF AS “CUTESY” OR SACCHARINE: That was always one of our biggest annoyances from the very beginning. A lot of people don’t know about our first album that was released on a tiny label. [They only know] Prism Eyes—that’s our second album. And, so, people just know us as being kind of a super-sugary pop band, and, as soon as they found out that we were a two-piece and me and Rob are married, they projected all of this shit onto it. But, you know, we’re still a band. When we write songs, they’re not all love songs, and even if they are love songs, they’re more timeless. They’re not so directed at each other… It just really drove me nuts, ‘cause if I heard about a band that was, like, a two-piece that was a boy and a girl and they’re married and they’re adorable, I would never want to listen to that band! I would be like, “Ew.” I would never listen to that band.
ON GENRE: We have so many influences. We like so many genres of music. It’s kind of embarrassing, because sometimes I’m not even aware of certain bands that we get compared to. I don’t even see it coming, and then I’m like, “Oh.” I didn’t even really know what twee was. Like, I listened to Belle and Sebastian and stuff when I was in high school, so I’ve always listened to something considered twee, but I didn’t know what twee was, and then I was like, “Wait, why are people calling us twee?” [laughs] I looked it up and I was like, “Oh, my God!” I don’t want to fault people for trying to categorize us, like, because a lot of the time I get where people are coming from. Like, now everyone is calling us shoegaze. Well I love so many bands that are considered shoegaze, but shoegaze, by and large, is so boring.
ONSTAGE KINETICS: One of the great things about being a four-piece now is that it used to be that Rob and I would have to stand kind of still. Rob could move around, but I was stuck standing still, and that was another thing I didn’t like about playing drums. And now I feel like we’re able to really let loose, especially when we’re on tour, because you’re stuck in a van all day. Two tours ago, when we were on tour with Eternal Summers, we started a contest with them to try to see who could get more raucous. It really had a huge, lasting effect on us. Being on tour with A Place To Bury Strangers, this past tour that we did last month—it’s cool because they’re considered very shoegaze, too, but they also get real crazy. And it was the perfect tour for us to do, because they are notorious for smashing their instruments and stuff, and we just started doing that too. [laughs]
ON PLAYING SHOWS: I don’t know, I think playing music on a stage in front of people is kind of stupid. Like, it’s awesome, but it’s also kind of stupid and really funny to me. Like, you’re all facing this audience that’s facing you. I don’t know, it just feels so unreal. So, for me, getting really crazy and smashing a guitar or charging at Al and having a guitar battle with him is just, like, having fun with this really ridiculous thing that we’re doing. It’s really addictive. It’s kind of funny because our album hasn’t officially come out yet. Most people haven’t heard it. So, when they see us play for the first time, or for the first time since we’ve been a four-piece, they’re like, “Whoa, you guys are so heavy now!” And I’m like, “No, we’re not really that heavy. We’re just being silly and sloppy on the stage.” [laughs]
SECRETS FOR SMASHING INSTRUMENTS INEXPENSIVELY: Rob is really, really good at scouring eBay for really good deals, and, before we went on this last tour, he bought a Fender Squier that was super cheap. Squiers suck, and we got it specifically so we could be really rough with it. And then Al has two really cheap Stratocasters that he built, too. This past tour, I broke the headstock off of the Squier three times. We just glued it back with wood glue and clamped it with, like, yeah, with clamps. [laughs] And then it was fine. Every time it was fine. It broke in three different parts, so it wasn’t even breaking in the same spot. It was ridiculous. We learned a lot of tricks for fixing guitars from A Place To Bury Strangers. They know how to fix anything. So it’s a lot cheaper than you’d think. We used to take our really nice guitars on tour. We have fancy vintage Fenders, but we stopped doing that. [Cheap guitars are] infinitely fixable, because I feel like if you have a good amp and good effect pedals, that can make any shitty guitar sound good, at least for live shows.
STARVING ARTISTRY: I think some people really appreciate how crazy that is, and then other people don’t get it. I think that people like me, who we’re friends with, don’t get it as much, because they never had that mindset of, “You go to college and you go to grad school and you get a career.” … This is by far the most intense year of our lives. It was crazy how much money we spent on recording. I’ve seen this coming, so I’m kind of comfortable with it, but it’s still really freaky.
BLEEDING RAINBOW’S YEAH, RIGHT COMES OUT JANUARY 23 ON KANINE. FOR MORE ON THE GROUP, VISIT THEIR FACEBOOK PAGE.