Like Summer
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Like Summer


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The best kept secret in music


"Pittsburgh City Paper - Featured Music Preview"

Many local bands operate with the “young people leaving Pittsburgh” axe hanging just above their heads, waiting for one of their members to cut out toward brighter lights and broader horizons. For Like Summer, that axe fell in January 2005, when singer and principal songwriter Steve Gretz moved back to his hometown of Ramsey, N.J., to take over a tutoring business. But after hearing the group’s new long-distance valentine, From Arlington Heights,With Love, you can’t help but suspect the experience sharpened its musical focus.

But that doesn’t mean it’s been easy. “Steve really wanted to continue playing with us and writing long-distance,” says bassist Trevor Baker. “At this point we’ve made it work, and we’re starting to write new stuff and seeing how that shakes out. But it’s definitely a weird thing.”

Like Summer began four years ago at Grove City College, when drummer Dan Harding started jamming with the years-younger Gretz, who was writing songs reminiscent of Better Than Ezra. “Steve played a couple solo shows on acoustic guitar, and Dan fell in love with it,” Baker says. “Dan was kinda like, ‘Steve, people need to hear this. I want to be that engine to help get people to hear this music.’” Although Baker was already playing bass alongside Harding in a ska band, it took him awhile to warm up to the idea of a new group. But things began to click once Ben Hardt worked his guitar leads into the mix.

Even though it’s only 45 minutes up I-79, the transition from college band to Pittsburgh live act was a challenge. “I feel like we were pretty naïve, coming from Grove City, and that sort of stunted growth,” Baker recalls. “We didn’t know how to get shows in the city! So we played where we could, and either we’ve been around long enough now, or we got some lucky connections, so we built ourselves sort of a reputation of being …” He pauses. “Decent.”

Until a little over a year ago, the band members shared a communal lifestyle in their South Side Slopes band-house, accumulating a hefty catalog of songs. When Gretz announced he was leaving toward the end of 2004, it was suddenly go time. They quickly recorded at the house the basic tracks for what was to become Arlington Heights, and sent Gretz off to New Jersey with the 18-track recorder and vocals and guitars remaining to be tracked. “He did a lot of experimentation at that point, with layers and layering guitars,” says Baker.

It has taken Gretz until now to complete that recording. “Yeah, I can’t really fathom what has taken so long,” Baker says, chuckling. “I don’t know how intensely he was working on it … but I think he was steadily plugging away. Once mixing came, it was kinda hard … just a long process, mostly I feel like because of distance. Secondarily, because we did it ourselves.”

You do hear the tinkering that went on during that year: What could have been straightforward rockers and ballads get the Yankee Hotel Foxtrot treatment, with layers of instrumentation and atmospheric sonics dovetailed into the songs and providing some pleasant surprises. There’s the Cars-esque keyboard warble on the album opener, “Soon,” and the feedback and piano washes over the stately “I’m a Fake.” Worth the wait, Baker says. “I feel like the album has this coherence and a lot of creativity going into it …which you don’t get when you have a 10-hour block [of studio time] to crank it out.”

In many ways, the group’s sound splits the distance between Wilco and The Lemonheads, but with a difference: Instead of a lazy Tweedy or Dando drawl, the dynamics of Gretz’s strong tenor recontextualizes those mid-’90s guitar-pop roots into something fresh and more forceful.

But while time and distance may have created a suitable environment for sonic sculpting, the constraints have affected the group members differently. Hardt has become the rover of the group — he’s also the only member who didn’t get married last year — branching out into the beginnings of a solo career, and serving as axeman in ex-Pittsburgher Eric James’ touring band. “I think he just wants to play — period,” Baker says. “We all encourage that, if that’s where he feels he needs to be.”

Meanwhile, the band is open to what opportunities may arise. “We’re releasing this record and pushing it to radio as much as we can, to different labels as much as we can, trying to play as much as we can, show-wise,” says Baker, “and just seeing where it goes from there.” Like summer, a band’s seasons change and wane. After waiting out a long winter, who can say what a new spring will bring? - Pittsburgh City Paper

"Brad Tursi"

"[Moving On] is my jam!" - Army of Me (Doghouse Records)

"Pittsburgh City Paper - Show Review"

"...speaking of club cafe, i was a little under the weather this week, but made it down to catch like summer's cd release show early saturday evening. pretty impressive: a capacity crowd, worshipful fan screaming between songs and a bona-fide encore. the band kept a good pace during the set...culminating in a karate-chop Hammond organ solo and a sing-along that channeled some of the bravado of The Band's "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down." - Pittsburgh City Paper

"Ed Masley"

review of arlington heights:
"it's been more than a year now since steve gretz moved home to jersey, leaving like summer in pittsburgh. but they would appear to be making the most of the awkward long distance relationship years, if "from arlington heights, with love" is any indication. a richly textured collection of earnest guitar-driven pop songs, "from arlington heights, with love" is out this week with a release show saturday at club cafe."

review of pictures to prove it:
“…old Van Morrison (post-Them) if Van had cut his teeth of R.E.M…soulful without being soul, with melodies that reach out and grab you the first time you hear them."

- Pittsburgh Post-gazette

"Mike Shanley"

“The band Like Summer might have decided on their name as a way to describe the mood evoked by the heartfelt, no frills rock on their EP The Pictures to Prove It.” - Pulp Magazine

"Kevin Madrishin"

“Like Summer’s songs have substance and soul…a joy to engineer.” - Rosebud

"The Collegian"

“The feel of a live performance combined with powerful lyrics.” - Grove City College


From Arlington Heights, With Love (LP) (May 2006)
Sleeping:Falling:Thinking (EP) (May 2004)
The Pictures to Prove It (EP) (January 2003)


Feeling a bit camera shy


Like Summer cohered at a tightly conservative school in the middle of Western Pennsylvania farm country, not exactly a nurturing rock-n-roll haven. Drummer Dan Harding, the first to hear lyricist Steve Gretz’s well-crafted songs, determined that the world should know them. Bassist Trevor Baker and guitarist/keyboard player Ben Hardt rounded out the group. After deliberating for five frustrating months over a name, the group settled on the title of a Gretz original: “Like Summer.”

Band members graduated in waves from college, moving to Pittsburgh, PA and beginning the arduous task of coordinating practice sessions and gigs for members living over an hour apart from each other. This trend would continue throughout Like Summer’s history, interrupted by only three seasons of cohabitation in Pittsburgh. Despite the distance, two EPs were released, whetting fans’ appetites for more with the promise of a full-length release to come.

When the last college degree was finally bestowed, Like Summer moved into a house in Pittsburgh’s Arlington Heights neighborhood to record their next album. Juggling odd jobs, band members continued to gig in Pittsburgh and beyond, returning home to the demands of eking out a living and the incessant call of the recording ahead. Gretz found himself sleeping over, under, and sometimes curled around the recording equipment that crowded his room and spilled out into the house’s furniture-bereft living room. This tangle of amplifiers, drum kits, organs, guitars, and microphones bore an album that would invite listeners to enter into the band’s world.

Though a season’s jumbled togetherness created the beginning of a beautiful project, Like Summer again faced the challenges of geographical distance. Bandleader Gretz moved back home to the New Jersey suburbs while the other three musicians remained in Pittsburgh; the recordings, unfinished, had to be mixed by mail.

The long-awaited album, From Arlington Heights, With Love, was finally released on May 6, 2006, to a capacity crowd at Club Café on Pittsburgh’s Southside. Eleven songs deftly navigate the depths of despair, tempered with the euphoria of redemption. Shimmering guitars and pounding piano octaves from opening track “Soon” set the pulse for the album’s driving rock tunes. “Black Coffee In The Afternoon” romps with a whirling Hammond organ while the humble acoustic of “I’m A Fake” sets aching melodies loose in a wash of sobering feedback. Mysterious noises summon the melancholy “Moving On,” yet the album crescendos to a rousing chorus of earnest voices before peacefully fading away.

With the achievement of From Arlington Heights, With Love, Like Summer continues to defy the miles between them, inviting fans into a world of depth and desire, and promising more heart rending beauty to come.