Vivian Darkbloom
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Vivian Darkbloom

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF

Boston, Massachusetts, United States | SELF
Band Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Ryan's Smashing Life"

Vivian Darkbloom is Boston's Hot New Band. They're young, creative and really good. After just a year of playing together as a band; Rob Morris (vocals and guitar), Brian Skerrat (bass and vocals) and Loren Bienvenu (drums) are emerging as one of the city's brightest new talents.

The group just released the "Lets Become Machines" EP which showcases their considerable range and growing talent. It was very much a DIY process.

"We recorded it in our drummer’s basement," singer Rob Morris said on the phone recently. "It was a very cumbersome approach. We’re not sound engineers. But it came out pretty well. The public seems to respond to the tracks."

Indeed they do. The band rocked the stage at Bill's Bar recently opening up for Static of the Gods (highly recommended!) The house was thoroughly impressed and one can't help but know that better days are on the way.

INFLUENCES, SOUNDS and STYLES: Vivian Darkbloom has some sound similarities and song structures in common with one of my favorite bands in the country: Mason Proper (a hugely talented Michigan indie rock outfit that would be far more famous than they are currently if they had the benefit of being on the left or right coast.) And it was during our recent chat and though our email correspondences that I learned from Morris that he has been influenced by Spencer Krug and Dan Broeckner's Wolf Parade (another favorite band - this one from British Columbia, Canada.) This revelation keeps us going for some time further. Darkbloom plays a cover version of Wolf Parade's "Modern World" that I am thoroughly interested in hearing.

Morris is a bright guy. He's a graduate student here in Boston at MIT. Right now he's working on a sound project involving guitar and kinetic movement. It's only a matter of time before the world will know this guy's name.

UPCOMING DATES: Vivian Darkbloom has two local shows over the next three weeks to check out. They will be at P.A.'s Lounge in Sommerville on April 17th and at TT the Bears in Central Square, Cambridge on May 8th.

I figured I would ask Morris which song the group considers their best - so I could listen for the track at these shows.

"Our favorite song to perform? I think all three of us in the band would tell you that we have no idea anymore," Morris said. "We do listen to the performance and critique it... Like 'there was a strong intro to "Jamie," or the chorus on that one came in a little late.' Otherwise they're just patterns of notes now. It's the newer stuff we are focusing on."

The beauty of a band like Vivian Darkbloom is that there is only what's upcoming. They are the best of the emerging talent here in Boston. They are what's next. - Ryan's Smashing Life

"Cold War Review"

Most importantly, we're back with a bullet - Boston's Vivian Darkbloom. Their latest single, "Cold War" opens with the dark, meditative tones of another historically minded-band, Cold War Kids, before turning on the pop-propeller and launching into something that sounds like a hard-edged Bishop Allen. All the finger-picked guitar lines are there, and aside from an ominous bass-line, "Cold War" is lighter-than-air. Well, until the chorus where things get considerably darker.

In what could be the lyric of the year: "I loved our cold war/we didn't have to speak/we lived like communists, darling." It's morose. It's crushing. It's actually a little funny. To summarize: it's every disastrous interaction you've ever had with women. In a shocking twist, maybe the disasters are the most interesting part. Maybe the stand-offs, the negotiations, the detente - maybe that's the good stuff. So take that idea and set it against one of the most singable choruses you've heard this month and you've got "Cold War." It'll stick in your head for days - or at least until the red phone rings. Because we're either going to figure this thing out or we're going to blow the world to bits. Like communists, darling. - 32ft/sec

"Sonicbids Feature"

Vivian Darkbloom Wins Sonicbids
Apr 4, 2008
Story by: Lora Kolodny

Alt-rock triple threat, Vivian Darkbloom, won the CMJ Sonicbids spotlight award for the week of April 7, 2008. Formed in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 2006, the group has already toured throughout the Northeast with early gigs at famed, alt-rock incubator and dive bar, TT The Bear's. Vivian Darkbloom's first EP, Let's Become Machines, was produced and engineered by the band members themselves: Rob Morris (vocals, guitar) Brian Skerratt (bass, vocals) and Loren Bienvenu (drums). The band's single, "It Is What It Is," was recently played on Boston's mass market radio station WFNX. Rob Morris' live performances have caused a buzz among gadget-geeks—his instrument is a home-made, Nintendo-Wii controlled guitar. In January, the guitar was included in a trade show in Japan for Yamaha and for Genyo Takeda, the inventor of the Wii. - Lora Kolodny

"PA's Lounge review"

The highlight, though, was the middle of the three performers, Vivian Darkbloom. Their track “Cold War,” if there were any justice in the music biz, would be on heavy rotation. Lines like “I loved our cold war, we never had to mean what we said, we spoke like our governments” and “you list me as a friend, but it’s complicated, I guess the whole world knows now” are just brilliantly clever. And then there’s the fact that the lead has attached a Wii remote to his guitar, and wired it in some way so as to have the motion sensor affect the tones coming out of the instrument. -

"Wii Guitar Goes Viral"

What can't be done with a Wiimote? No, seriously. You can use the thing to control your vacuum, homegrown video games and your very own robotic sentry. Oh, and now you can use it to make yourself a better guitarist. YouTube member rockin1208 has hosted up a video of him executing all sorts of nasty pitch bends and whatnot thanks to a Wiimote strapped onto his Strat. Put as simply as possible, he pipes the Wiimote data to Max / Msp, which then sends MIDI data to a Digitech Whammy pedal. We know, you have no idea what we just said, so we'll just encourage you to don your gnarliest cans and hop on past the break for an aural explanation.

The video was featured in a variety of news sources, including,,, and many blogs (see below for a partial list):



"VD in"

Hacker Gives His Guitar Nintendo Wiimote Powers
By Brian X. Chen EmailOctober 15, 2008 | 3:53:16 PMCategories: Games, Hacks, Music

Download video!

Very cool: Tech-savvy musician Rob Morris hooked up his Nintendo Wiimote to his guitar and used the controller's accelerometer data to manipulate the instrument's sounds. Check out the video above: He tilts his guitar upward (Star Power, anyone?) to change the pitch, and then he moves on to crazier sounds by pressing the Wiimote buttons. -

"Video Interview + live footage" -

"CMJ Review"

Vivian Darkbloom

Vivian Darkbloom has been compared to a range of indie artists, but adequate descriptions are hard to nail. Maybe it's the band's mutual love of The Simpsons. Or maybe it's singer Rob Morris' self-rigged guitar—he plays a black Fender with a Wii control strapped to the bottom. The crossbreed squeals, beeps and sputters away, making for some incredible solos. The Wii-enhanced riffs are odd but highly engaging, and simple bass lines give the songs a delightful headbobbing quality. Whatever the case, Vivian Darkbloom offers a subtly unique species of alternative rock, kitschy and catchy, but with staying power.

Their musical inventiveness may correlate to their overall smarts. Drummer Loren Bienvenu is a Harvard grad math savant, bassist Brian Skerratt is a Harvard PhD student, and Morris is a MIT grad student. The band mates describe themselves as "huge nerds." In addition to the Simpsons worship, the band also harbors a mutual obsession for Vladimir Nabokov. In fact, the band's moniker originates with a peripheral character in Lolita and is an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov. Currently Vivian Darkbloom is working on a full-length album with producer Scott Riebling (Metrostation, Fall Out Boy, Low Vs. Diamond). The guys plans to put out a single soon, and say the album should be completed "in the very near future." CB - CMJ

"The Boston Globe"

For the most part, Boston band Vivian Darkbloom looks like most other three-piece rock groups - three guys on guitar, bass, and drums. But if you look closely, something might catch your eye: the Nintendo Wii controller attached to Rob Morris's guitar.

* Video Watch Morris in action
* Learn how it's done

Vivian Darkbloom plays tonight at 7:30 as part of the Boston Music Spotlight Live series at

Olivers Nightclub at the Cask 'n Flagon. 21+. Tickets are $10, available at the door.

Morris's mom bought him a Nintendo Wii for Christmas a year ago because she wanted to give him something, anything, that wasn't related to music. So what did he do with it? He plugged the video game's motion-sensitive "Wiimote" into his guitar and made music out of it.

With the help of a laptop, some software, and a bit of Velcro, Morris can move, shake, or tilt his souped-up guitar to change its sound on the fly - altering the pitch or adding echo. It's like a foot pedal without the foot, or the pedal.

Morris's Wii guitar has created a buzz in both the technology and music worlds, he said, with a feature on the popular techno-blog Engadget and interest from guitar giants Gibson and Yamaha.

Why go to all the trouble? Because he can. The Princeton-educated M.I.T. Media Arts and Sciences grad student is a bit of a tech nerd. Here's (roughly) how he did it:

1. Attach the remote to the guitar Duct tape works. Velcro is a little fancier. Morris says the important thing is to make sure it doesn't fall off in the middle of a performance.

2. Make the Wiimote and computer talk Morris runs "Bluetooth Setup Assistant" on his Mac to synch up the Wiimote to the computer.

3. Get the right software Morris uses the Max/MSP multimedia suite to translate the controller's motions into any guitar effect he wants. Besides pitch and echo, he likes the "granular synthesis" effect, which can create blips and beeps that sound like old video games.

4. Convert to audio Plug the guitar and laptop into a PreSonus Firebox, which converts the computer signals into audio signals and spits them out through a guitar cable.

5. Turn it up Plug the guitar cable from the Firebox into your amplifier, and you're ready to rock. - John Guilfoil

"Interview in BMS"

Vivian Darkbloom talk music, Wii
BMS talks with Rob Morris about his band, their upcoming BMS show, and his special guitar By Eli Badra, Staff Writer

See them tonight at Olivers! (press photo)

Vivian Darkbloom are a local rock band with an esoteric name and a few musical tricks up their sleeve. We caught up with vocalist and guitarist Rob Morris, who was kind enough to take time from his surely busy schedule as an MIT grad student/rock star to discuss the band's newfound medium of expression on the guitar, working in the studio with a high-profile producer, and dividing time between studying and being on stage.

Boston Music Spotlight (BMS): Thanks for talking with us, how's it going?

Rob Morris (RM): Good, thanks.

BMS: Your band's name, Vivian Darkboom, actually comes from Lolita, and is Nabokov injecting himself into the novel in a peculiar way [a fun fact: Vivian Darkbloom is in fact an anagram for Vladimir Nabokov]. Did the elusive nature of the character play into choosing that name?

RM: I could probably come up with some post-modern reason as to why it's fitting, how it's a symbol of having that alter ego. Like pretty much any musician around Boston, we have day jobs that are very different from what we do musically, and our personalities on stage are different from how we are off the stage. So we liken that [notion] to a symbol that music is this thing that really drives us, but is also a fractured part of our identities: we live very different lives during the day, and play rock music at night…but in reality I can't remember why or who came up with it, but it seems to fit for those reasons.

BMS: Appropriately, then, there's a certain dark, almost ethereal quality to your music that I can't quite put my finger on, and all in spite of the fact that it's filled with catchy grooves and guitar chugging. Where does your inspiration come from?

RM: It's interesting - my girlfriend was just talking about this. She'll hear me write these songs, and I'll demo them for her with lyrics. I'll model them [musically] off of pop songs, but, and I'm not sure why, lyrically I tend to gravitate towards darker themes, more somber and melancholic. I think it's a cool combination to have a pop sound and structure and infuse that with dark and meaningful, less candy pop sort of lyrics.

I listen to a lot – Aimee Mann, for instance. Her songs are well-crafted, structurally simple, but her lyrics can have a fair amount of gravity. It's more darkly-tinged than you might expect when just hearing the chords without vocals on them. I tend to listen to one song over and over again, and then I'll move on to another one.

BMS: So you're not really an album man?

RM: (laughs) I used to be, but lately I've really just been obsessing over one song, or even just a part of a song, I'll rewind and listen to it again and again. Right now I'm listening to a song called "Kookaburra" by John Vanderslice. If a song catches me at the right time, though, I'll just become obsessed with it.

BMS: How about the other guys?

RM: The other guys obviously bring their own sound to the songs, as well. I don't really know their listening habits all the time, but Cristiano [Castellitto, drums] really loves The Strokes. He definitely comes from a more straight rock appreciation of music. Brian [Skerratt, bass/vocals] listens to a lot of different things – I couldn't even hazard a guess as to what's in his CD player right now.

BMS: I've got to ask you about this: how did you decide to start using a Wii controller to manipulate guitar pitch?

RM: I think there are a lot of reasons as to how I came to do that. I've always been interested in experimental things that become sounds we can add on top of music which are also commercially relevant. I'm exposed to a lot of sound artists at MIT, and I wish some of the technology would make a scene more in mainstream music. [Those guys] are an influence.

In general, just the idea of gesturing with the guitar, I think, is something that seems intuitive. Guitarists do it anyway, even if it isn't doing anything musically meaningful, it's just a thing you do. When you want to emote, you want to move your body, so it seems naturally to harness that [motion] with an instrument. And of course there's guitar hero, which has that thing where if you hold the guitar up it'll give you more points or something.

So, my mom got me this Wii system as a gift, and one day when I got tired of bowling, I saw it lying next to my guitar. And I thought, "What if I velcroed this on there? Then I just kinda figured things out from there.

BMS: So how does it work, exactly?

RM: Okay so, any computer can recognize Wii controller, just like it'll recognize a wireless keyboard or mouse, through Bluetooth. If a device is nearby, [the computer] will know where it is. So any Wii controller, if you put it by the computer and ru - Boston Music Spotlight


EP - Let's Become Machines (2007)
Single - Cold War (2008)
LP - Know Your Exit (Feb 7, 2012)



Founded by an MIT student who invents cat toys, a poetry expert fluent in Chinese, and a math savant who once held the Minesweeper world record, Vivian Darkbloom is the geeky-hip grad student's take on alt/indie rock.

In 2012, Vivian Darkbloom will release its debut full-length record - Know Your Exit. The album was recorded over the span of three years, in various studios throughout Boston, and it showcases the band's penchant for pop structures, dark themes, and technological oddities.

The band has achieved notoriety for its unique instruments (including an MIT-built guitar/wii controller hybrid) and its crowdsourced approach to audio production (the track "Know Your Exit" includes over 1100 tracks recorded by people throughout the world, from Taiwan to Macedonia).

There first music video is interactive and web-based and has been nominated for a 2012 SXSW award.

The band has conducted regional tours on the East and West coasts, including performances at major clubs and festivals, such as CMJ's Music Marathon. In 2010, they opened for The Airborne Toxic Event.