“Everton and Garcia’s music is sweet but not lacking a punk-rock backbone, made clear by the way Reading Rainbow was born: the two were in another band together, when their previous drummer suddenly announced that he couldn’t go on a tour. They improvised and created a new band they could tour with — Sarah took a floor tom and snare and taught herself to play drums. With that stripped-down set-up they’ve created some of the best pop songs we’ve heard this year, including “Always on My Mind,” recorded at Philadelphia’s Miner Street Studios during a session of Weathervane Music’s video series ‘Shaking Through.'”
(Poor Washington, D.C.: Not only do the residents of Our Nation’s Capital still not have the right to vote for representatives in Congress, but the district’s local music scene doesn’t even count in the eyes of alt-weeklies any more. That’s just harsh.)
You can listen to our own Key Studio Session with Reading Rainbow here; our recent interview with the duo-turned-trio (including the new third member, Al Creedon) can be found here.
On a sticky Philadelphia evening, The Key caught up with Reading Rainbow in the patio garden behind Rocket Cat Café in Fishtown. The band, with new member Al Creedon, had just finished dinner at a restaurant down the street, and we sat behind the coffee shop, where drummer Sarah Everton works. (At one point, the interview was interrupted to help Sarah’s co-worker locate paper airplanes that she had let a customer’s son make out of car insurance papers.) All of this is to say that, even if Sarah and Rob Garcia hail from Virginia and have only lived in Philadelphia for four years, the affinity they now have with their city and neighborhood is almost palpable. “You could have just come to our house, it’s right down the street,” said Sarah. Since their first full length Mystical Participation was released in 2009, Reading Rainbow has been playing around in the gray area between internet flare-up sensation and lasting psychedelic shoe gaze punk rockers, but since the November 2010 release of Prism Eyes, Garcia and Everton are determined to prove their staying power and serious musicianship. Catching the band between tours, The Key spoke with Sarah, Rob and Al about feeling inadequate, Al’s arrival, and why they hate being called “cute.”
The Key: So, how did you guys meet Al? How did he end up becoming your third member?
Rob Garcia: We actually go way back.
Al Creedon: Years.
RG: When we first started playing in Philadelphia, we played with this band called Hermit Thrushes, who live in South Philly. A lot of those dudes are from New Jersey.
AC: Yeah, and I grew up in Jersey, kind of in the same circle as Yianni Kourmadas from Hermit Thrushes, and that’s who introduced us.
RG: Sarah and I were in the process of recording a whole bunch of songs, and we had put out a CDR. Al had his own record label at that point, which he still has, and he helped release our first album, Mystical Participation. Ever since then pretty much every other 7” we’ve ever done, and most of the songs on our last album Prism Eyes, were mixed by Al. So when Sarah and I were thinking, “Gosh, it’d be great to have a third person, who would it be?,” it made the most sense that it would be Al, since he’s familiar with all of our songs… As the band is moving along, and we’re trying to grow and progress and evolve, having another person to help move that along and be able to play live songs with a lot more stuff going on is what we wanted.
Sarah Everton: On the last tour we did, when we were out with The Dodos, we felt really inadequate the whole time. Well, no, I mean in a good way. An inspiring way. We were just like, “We have to get another guitar player.” And we were already leading Al on a whole lot, like, “If we ever get someone, it would be you!” And then finally I was texting Al saying, “Learn all of our songs.”
Just a few seconds in to the new Reading Rainbow one-sided single “Cover The Sky” (on the Italian label Hell, Yes!), you can’t help but notice something different about the band’s sound. The duo has traded out its garage-rock leanings for a sweet, yearning, and slightly shoegazing sound. The guitar playing sparkles through the reverbed wall of sound, and—for four minutes and six seconds—you can hear the band wondrously broadening its sound. You can order the limited edition (400 hand numbered copies) here.
Below, you can listen to Reading Rainbow‘s new song, “Cover The Sky,” which comes from the local duo’s upcoming one-sided 7-inch (due April 11th on the Italian label Hell, Yes!). Only 400 copies of the limited-edition, hand-numbered single will be available; you can pre-order it here.
Meet George, quite possibly the world’s biggest fan of Reading Rainbow. I couldn’t help but take his picture last Saturday evening at SXSW in Austin, as I was hanging out on 6th Street. I was just surveying the thousands of people out on the street, and there came George—wearing a big smile and a new Reading Rainbow t-shirt. George is from Los Angeles, and took some time off from his job managing a couple of record stores to go to the music conference and festival. He told me that seeing Reading Rainbow at SXSW was one of his favorite shows and that we should be happy to have a band as great as Reading Rainbow in Philly. We agree.
Reading Rainbow heads out on a national tour on March 8th that will have the band opening for the Dum Dum Girls and The Dodos. The tour will include a handful of shows at SXSW and goes through the middle of April. Rob and Sarah recently did an interview with the music blog Gimme Tinnitus in which they announced two new upcoming releases. The first will be out on March 28th and is called “Cover The Sky”; a split 7-inch single with the band Super Wild Horses will be released on HoZac (date TBD).
If you’re new to the Reading Rainbow experience, check out the Key Studio Session they did for us here, as well as the video below that they recently did at some pizza shop in New York.
On the heels of their acclaimed sophomore album Prism Eyes—and just before they dropped a split 7” with NYC’s Coasting—we welcomed Rob Garcia and Sara Everton into our studio earlier this month for the Reading Rainbow Power Hour on Y-Rock. We’re giving you their entire set as the final Key Studio Session of 2010; since it was played live to the HD Radio airwaves, there were no retakes. It’s raw, blistering, and there’s a bit of a reverb flub in “Wasting Time” that causes the duo to crack up laughing. It’s all the awesomer for it. Credit goes to Eric Schuman of Y-Rock (and Ugly Rumors) for his sharp engineering and Reading Rainbow for their fierce performance, from the rimshot-happy early single “Restless” to the bring-it-all-home drive of “Must Be Dreaming.” We look forward to capturing more of these performances in 2011.
Oh, who are we kidding? You’re going to stay in tonight because of the snow.
If, however, you plan on dusting off the old dog sled and mushing your way through the city, there are two excellent shows featuring local bands with new music that has either just been released or on its way. Philly’s favorite garage-pop duo Reading Rainbow performs at Danger Danger Gallery tonight. Most of the Internet has been freaking out over the band’s debut, Prism Eyes, since it received a positive review from Pitchfork earlier this month; tonight’s show is the officially official release party for the band’s new split 7-inch with Brooklyn’s Coasting, which is also on the bill. (Also playing: Moon Women. 8 p.m., $5-$10) Meanwhile, over at Kung Fu Necktie, local psych quartet Creepoid will be opening for The Notekillers (which John Vettese highlighted earlier today in his Philly Local Philes); look for Creepoid to play songs off the band’s upcoming full-length, Horse Heaven, due out in January on Ian Records. (8 p.m., $8)
And speaking of our friends Rob and Sarah from Reading Rainbow, they play Thursday night at Danger Danger Gallery w/ Brooklyn’s Coasting and Philly’s Moon Women to celebrate the release of Reading Rainbow’s fine new album Prism Eyes.