Somerset West
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Somerset West

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Band Q&A with Somerset West

Are you still not sure about your plans for Saturday night? Well, let me make it a little easier for you.

Oklahoma City band Somerset West made the move from California to Oklahoma a few years ago and took little time showing OKC what hard rock is all about. While evoking a sound reminiscent of Brand New and Taking Back Sunday, Somerset West crafts powerful, melodic songs with their own unique twist. Where the band truly shines is on the stage; they flood each venue with passion, sweat, churning riffs, and roaring vocals. Judging from the stellar title track and “The Great Mistake,” their new album, Lucerne, looks to be the well-earned result of one of the hardest working bands in the Metro.

Don’t miss your chance to catch them in action this Saturday at the Conservatory in Oklahoma City, with openers the excellent City Lives (who will also be at OU opening for Manchester Orchestra on Thursday) and Red City Radio. The doors open at 7:30 with the show beginning at 8:30. Tickets are available at the door for $6.

Lead singer and guitarist Kyle Lynch took the time to answer a few questions about the band’s path up till now, hopes for the future, and finding a place to sleep:

So why did you guys decide to pursue a musical career?

Well, we just all love music, plain and simple. It’s a passion and an outlet.

What has been the biggest challenge for the band so far?

Funding is definitely the biggest issue. Recording and touring are far from cheap. It takes a toll on the pocket book, but it is definitely worth it in the long run.

What are your hopes and dreams for the band's future?

We would like to get some help from a label. This would make writing and touring so much easier.

What would you say has been the defining moment of the band?

Probably meeting our good friend Andy Loper. He gave us a chance and some really good advice.

It sounds like the songs from your new album Lucerne are a lot more refined/mature than your first EP The New Ocean Sound, what changes have you guys been through that has influenced your music?

Music is, or should be, all about progression. If you are not constantly refining your music, then what’s the point? We don’t like to rehash old stuff.

What bands/musicians influence your music?

Most recently: Brand New, As Cities Burn, Thrice, Sparta. Of course each of the other guys would have a different list as well. I think it creates a nice, diverse sound.

If you could create your ideal tour lineup to play with, who would it be?

I would have to go with At The Drive-In, The Get Up Kids, and Brand New.

What has been the most interesting moment you've faced on tour?

There have been some crazy things...but finding a place to sleep always seems to become the biggest challenge. It is always interesting!

What is your favorite song to perform and why?

Probably Lucerne. It’s a fun song to play, and it means a lot to me personally.

Why should we go to the CD release on Saturday?

There is going to be great new music. The other bands playing on the bill (the City Lives and Red City Radio) are awesome. Plus, The tickets are only $6! I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday night.

Neither can I.

You can listen to Somerset West on their myspace page - OU Daily


The album-opener “The Ghost” begins blandly with strummed guitars, but all is forgiven when the chorus storms in with double vocal lines and stacked layers of guitars—some meandering and high-pitched, others fundamental driving.

Winding, delayed guitars and wonderful, echoic atmospherics streak through a Mutemath-esque “The Russian,” but the eponymous sixth track is the album’s most successful. Walking bass lines support Lynch, who’s unabashed and on top vocally, pushing his voice almost to the point of breaking pitch. It’s a great effect and adds a welcome urgency to the album’s midsection.

Recorded at a trio of studios, including the venerable Black Lodge in Eudora, Kan. (The Get Up Kids, The New Amsterdams, The Appleseed Cast), and with tracks produced by Chicago’s Matt Opal (Spitalfield, Kill Hannah, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo), “The Golden Land” is a little disjointed and jumbled, but the mess is welcome and mostly interesting.

Somerset West has a lot to offer. Lynch’s voice, a cross between Brand New’s Jesse Lacey and Counting Crows’ Adam Duritz, is textured and appealing, both raw and with studio treatments. The musicians all bring their different identities to the mix, notably the bassist, who adds impossibly deep melodies instead of simply riding the root note.

“The Golden Land” is available on iTunes. The band is in Bricktown on April 22
—Joe Wertz
- The Gazette


Discography

The Golden Land (full-length 2010)
Lucerne EP (2009)
New Ocean Sound EP

View videos from Somerset West:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKyAadFJVec&feature=player_embedded

Photos

Bio

Somerset West began in a borrowed garage in Northern California. Eventually we found ourselves crossing east and landing in Oklahoma City. At this point, my brother and I began to fill out the rest of the band, adding friends that shared our love for playing music. Things progressed, and we became more involved. I think in a lot of ways, that is what the new CD (Lucerne) is all about; the collaboration of influences, mistakes, redemption and change.

Change has affected Somerset West in a variety of ways. Though the band has traveled the states and has had many members (all from a trusted circle of friends), SSW retains the same spirit. With mellow nuances and screaming sentimentalization Somerset stands alone as a band in this day and age. Full of insight in failure, Kyle's vocals preach redemption with a strong rock back up.

Recorded at a trio of studios, including the venerable Black Lodge in Eudora, Kan. (The Get Up Kids, The New Amsterdams, The Appleseed Cast), and with tracks produced by Chicago’s Matt Opal (Spitalfield, Kill Hannah, Sonic Youth’s Lee Ranaldo), “The Golden Land” is a little disjointed and jumbled, but the mess is welcome and mostly interesting.
-Joe Wertz/The Gazette