One of the more energetic bands I've seen play in a little while is Charly Bliss. They presented a set of heavy swirling pop emenating with the exuberance of lead singer and guitarist Eva Hendricks, a level of grittiness from Spencer Fox's guitar playing, and an effectively fuzzed and propelling rhythm section of Dan Shure on bass and Sam Henfricks on drums, this past Saturday, the 15th, at Chicago's Lincoln Hall. The New York band is touring in support of their latest record, Young Enough (Barsuck Records). Striking me most about the show, observed this time from above within the Lincoln Hall's balcony, was not just the playful ease yet serious competence with which Charly Bliss play their songs, but also the reception from those in the audience - bright multi-colored hair styles and grown men jumping and singing with glee like only the best pop music elicits. I was able to have an incredibly pleasant conversation with the band to talk about this pop sound, Young Enough, and mirrors. Take a look:
WLUW: So let's start out bytalking about the new album "Young Enough." I'd love to hear a little bit about like what it was like to record it; where you guys recorded it, stuff like that.
Eva: Absolutely. It was really wonderful recording this album. I feel like the biggest difference for us on this album was that even the tougher parts felt really rewarding in the end. We recorded it in LA with Joe Chicarelli and we specifically wanted to record it in LA because we kind of have this theory that it's best to be recording when we all feel most like a unit and if we were recording in New York, there's just too many things going on at home that would make us want to hang out with our friends or see our significant others or leave early or get there late. I felt like it was kind of nice being in LA all together. And we would walk to the studio together everyday, we would go to bed at the same time every night, sort of regimented.
WLUW: I was curious actually is as to how you guys hooked up with Joe Chicarelli. He's kind of a well known name, a lot of good names in his roster.
Sam: We had a list of producers that we were really interested in and he was obviously on the list and we tried to set up a meeting and he immediately said, "yes, let's do it." And we're like, "oh, awesome, cool". And we met with him and we just immediately clicked, and we asked him like, "how do you know about us?" He had just produced the new Broken Social Scene record and they're on a ton of year end lists, we were either like one spot behind or ahead of them and he was just like, who the hell is this Charly Bliss that I've got to check out? And so he did. And then, you know, I guess he liked what he heard. So, I feel like after we met we were like, "yeah. He's our guy."
WLUW: What goes into making a list like that of producers you'd like to work with? What do you do, do you listen to what they've done before?
Eva: A lot of it is listening to what they've done before but the foundation of everything was just, we knew on this record that we really wanted to push ourselves and we were really, really wanted to be growing beyond what we had already accomplished on Guppy (the band's first album) and kind of taking our skillset and expand that a little bit. So we were looking to work with people who had worked in the pop world with experiences in all different genres of music. And something that was really perfect about Joe was that he wasn't just a pure pop person. He's, you know, exactly as Sam just said, he did the Broken Social Scene record, but he's also done Jason Mraz. So he's done a little bit of everything andwas able to be, I felt like the perfect balance of pushing us but also extremely respectful.
Sam: It felt like something we were concerned about just going into it, we knew we wanted to work with someo that we'd be really excited to work but a little bit out of our reach. And the danger that comes with doing something like that is just that you know, you're the small fish in the big pond. So if someone suggests something and you're thinking like, "oh, I'll try it, but I really don't like that idea," and you continue to not like that idea. You know, something we are worried about is if we were working with some studio giant that they would be pissed off if we were like, "that's what we like and kind of want to keep it this way." Never ever felt that way.
Eva: He was so wonderful to work with and I feel like he pushed us when we needed to be pushed but I feel like nine times out of 10 we went with what great idea he had. So he really is a genius and is really just magnificent at what he does. So when we were setting out that was that was the number one thing, was someone who was a little bit outside of our realm, but also someone who we could really take on as like a fifth member of the band for this recording process.
WLUW:You expressed a sound that's not really a pure pop sound, and I read a quote that you guys sort of formulated your sound based off of a mutual appreciation for a more pop sound. The record, in my in my ears, has that pop aesthetic, but is not total "pop." Is that a conscious choice then? How did that sound evolve with the new album?
Eva: You know, I think part of it was we are huge pop music fans and it's what we listen to, and tonight before the show, you'll hear our pre-show playlist is all pop music and it's, the music is most exciting to us right now. We were really inspired by albums like Lorde's "Melodrama" and by Carly Rae Jepsen and I think just naturally it felt like that was where we wanted to be heading, more and more in that direction. "Guppy," we feel, is a pop album, just a pop album kind of told through really loud guitars and more in the vein of like a Weezer album, which is also a pop album. It would be kind of a shock to go from that album to then going to an Ariana Grande song. We didn't want to go so far that it would feel like not us. And also we had to honor the songs that we had written, which were, you know, somewhere in between something that didn't fall directly in either category and I don't think we definitely wanted to push it more in one direction. I feel really proud. I think we all feel really, really proud and feel like our record kind of straddled that line really, really perfectly. It's a major growth album.
WLUW: On that note. You should feel very proud because Stereogum put you guys at number three for the year so far.
Eva: Oh yeah! The list thing, it's crazy. It's awesome. And we feel so grateful for that.
WLUW: How's the tour been?
Eva: Amazing. It's been really, really fun. Yeah. This is our first tour where we have, like, a crew with us. It's a very small crew but we have a person doing our sound every night and we have someone doing merch with us, so it's just really kind of nice to have some extra support.
Sam: Also I feel like when we toured right after "Guppy", we literally left right after the album came out and so I feel like, in a way, people didn't have as much time to kind of sit with the new songs and really absorb them and it was still a great tour but then we kind of toured again months later and that would feel like, "oh this is really like the album tour, but for this one we kind of gave it a little bit of time and it's just really awesome to see people in the audience knowing the songs and it's really exciting.
WLUW: You have dates planned pretty much the whole year and you're touring with Pup to later in the fall, right? We talked to them a couple of weeks ago and they spoke really, really highly of you guys and the new album specifically and I was curious about your thoughts on their new album.
All Together: So good! It's just so good!
Eva: It's so good. We toured with them for the first time so early on in our career as a band and I don't think we had any idea when we agreed to do that tour that we were meeting people who would be our lifelong friends. We feel so grateful that there's just so much mutual respect between our two bands and we're so inspired by them. I mean it's such a great album and we were just at the Brooklyn Steel show that they played in New York a couple of weeks ago and I was scream dancing and crying the whole time, which is exactly how I like to feel.
WLUW: What's the last thing you listened to?
Eva & Dan: Kim Petras.
Eva: Yeah. Kim Petrus, the new Lizzo record we really love...I'm trying to think. As soon as someone asks that I'm like, "have they ever heard music?" Yeah. I'm so excited that Charli XCX has a new record coming out. Those are the staples right now.
Dan: Dua Lipa. We love Dua Lipa.
WLUW: You said that Lincoln Hall is your favorite venue on Twitter, I was just curious as to why?
Spencer: Oh my God. I mean the staff here is just like second to none. We got to the venue and the four of us just dropped our bags off in the green room and within five minutes we walked back down and all of our stuff was unloaded and everybody was just ready to go and sound check was a breeze. Everybody's just so nice.
Dan: They fixed your pedal.
Spencer: They fixed my pedal in like five minutes! I know it would have cost me like $60. Wow.
Eva: Actually there's a small number of things that venues should get right in order to be like very, very awesome. But it's strangely rare to find venues that like get all five things right. Meaning like a good green room with a bathroom, the staff is really kind and respectful and great.
Spencer: I will say, added to that, a green room with mirror.
Eva: So many green rooms don't have mirrors, and I love to wear crazy outfits, but I can't figure out what the fuck I'm wearing!"
Sam: Mirror and a bathroom that's all.
<---------- Young Enough is out now on Barsuck Records