The Ceremonies, Conway
128 Northeast Russell Street
Portland, OR, 97212
Doors 8:00 PM / Show 9:00 PM
This event is all ages
Watch & Listen
A brashly melodic indie rock outfit from Glasgow, the Fratellis feature vocalist/guitarist Jon Fratelli, drummer Mince Fratelli, and bassist Barry Fratelli. The witty trio played its first show in early 2005, maintaining that the band's moniker was merely an homage to Barry's original surname (however, other rumors suggest that the Fratellis borrowed it from the nemesis family featured in Steven Spielberg's film The Goonies). Such trivia only added to the Fratellis' growing appeal upon their performance debut, and the band's limited-edition self-titled EP arrived in April 2006. Although few copies were pressed, the record received a helpful boost from Zane Lowe's Radio One program, which put the acoustic-driven track "Creepin Up the Backstairs" into regular rotation. Televised appearances on Later with Jools Holland and Top of the Pops followed during the early summer, while the group's second single, "Henrietta," earned the Fratellis their first U.K. Top 20 hit. "Chelsea Dagger" began climbing the U.K. Top 40 that August, and the debut album Costello Music finally arrived in September. Although the album failed to chart in most countries (even an American iPod commercial featuring the track "Flathead" failed to spark much interest across the pond), Costello Music enjoyed a great deal of success at home, earning the bandmates a BRIT Award and peaking at number two in their native U.K. The band then returned to the British charts in 2008 with "Mistress Mabel," a track from their polished sophomore effort Here We Stand. After a self-imposed hiatus to focus on other projects, the band regrouped in 2012 for a U.K. tour and announced in 2013 that they had recorded their third studio album in their native Glasgow. We Need Medicine was scheduled for a September 2013 release.
Upon meeting Matthew, Mark, and Michael Cook — three smart, stylish, and somewhat serious-minded brothers who make up the Los Angeles band The Ceremonies — it's clear that these aren't just any ordinary young people. Their biggest influences are '80s post-punk pioneers Echo & The Bunnymen, The Smiths, and The Cure. The oldest, 21-year-old Matthew, who is The Ceremonies' musical architect and lyricist, cites the romantic poets William Blake and William Wordsworth, and British futurist writer Aldous Huxley as major inspirations. A lover of conceptual art and experimental film, Matthew attends art school, as does Michael, 19, who is also an abstract painter. Rounding out the highly artistic trio is Michael's twin brother Mark, who pursues creative writing and painting with his brothers while also working toward a business degree. The images that The Ceremonies' have made public are stark black and whites of their creative lives, whether it's a shot of them playing guitars in the studio, Michael drawing a self-portrait, or all three of them composing a painting to illustrate the concept behind their debut single "Land of Gathering." Drawn to the full sensory experience (it's hard to think of Depeche Mode or Joy Division without conjuring up Anton Corbijn's iconic portraits), The Ceremonies are in full control of their visual statement as well as their musical one.
"We cross-breed the rock band feeling with a multi-media theatrical element when we perform," says Matthew, citing the Talking Heads' David Byrne in Stop Making Sense as inspiration. "Our shows aren't just concerts, but something much more special — where people can go not only to watch our performance but also to have an impactful experience." "That's why we call ourselves The Ceremonies," explains Mark. "We've created a sense of communion through music," adds Matthew. "Ceremonies can be both positive or negative. Ceremonies are held for someone's funeral or wedding; they are all-encompassing gatherings about engaging with emotion."
The exuberant "Land of Gathering" is all soaring harmonies, airy synths, and bright horns set to an insistently chugging backbeat. It's a blend of cinematic, melodic pop lushness, '80s New Wave nostalgia, and cutting-edge alternative rock aesthetics, reflecting the band members' love for such classic pop tunesmiths as Michael Jackson, The Beach Boys, and The Righteous Brothers, as well as current tastemakers Arcade Fire. But the Cooks, working with producer Danny Garibay, are clever and talented enough to transcend their influences and create something entirely their own.
The brothers, who grew up in Los Angeles, recall their childhood rarely holding a silent moment; song never failed to flow through the Cook household. When Matthew was a teenager, he discovered a dark, swirling cover of The Beatles' "All You Need Is Love" by Echo and the Bunnymen, which he found an intriguing contrast to the original. He eventually turned his brothers on to his favorite music and the three formed The Ceremonies while Michael and Mark were still in high school, where they performed in an a cappella group and in musicals.
"It's hard to find the right people to be in a band with," Matthew says, "and I've realized that making music with my brothers is really special." While Matthew writes the songs and plays all the instruments on the band's recordings, all three band members play various instruments live and sing lead vocals. "There's definitely a quality each of us has in our voices that allows us to intertwine and come together," Mark says. "Our vibratos are pretty much the same pace, which is difficult to find when you're singing with other people," notes Michael.
The brothers met Danny Garibay through a mutual friend and bonded over their shared musical taste. Matthew and Garibay began to retool the demos Matthew had created, injecting rhythmic urgency and other production flourishes into the sound. Garibay brought the music to Troy Carter, who also manages Lady Gaga and John Legend. Carter asked for a meeting. Now The Ceremonies are signed to Carter's company Atom Factory and are working on their debut album, which they describe as "very conceptual." "The songs are about maintaining the perspective of a child in the adult world," Matthew says. "We're really interested in the idea of keeping imagination alive. 'Land of Gathering' is a metaphor for a place you can go in your mind to preserve childhood wonderment. If we can inspire other people to hold onto that appreciation for things that go unnoticed, it would be huge for us."
Conway is a singer, writer and a sayer of things that are on her mind and stuck in her side. She wants to tell you what she sees and how she sees it. She hopes you talk back.
Born in south St. Louis, born again in Brooklyn and currently coming into her own in LA, Conway offers a solo debut reflective of a journey that has been a trip!! "I take it to the heart. I take it to the head." She's all in.
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