“Have you ever been in a serious committed relationship before?” Trenton Wheeler asks. Wheeler, Seryn’s lead vocalist, ukulele player, and co-writer, is talking about “Disappear,” their single, and its lyrics. The song’s final line of “For you, I will try” is stark and sincere, as is every moment of the lush folk rock of Shadow Shows, the band’s latest, released in February.
Wheeler continues on about relationships, saying, “We knew each other for a while before we got married.” He could just as easily be talking about his marriage to his wife (which he was) or the intimacy of being in a band together. It’s hard to tell, actually.
“You put so much of your time, energy, emotion — so much of your spirit — into making music that it becomes like a serious relationship,” Wheeler says. “[Your band members] become more than just your friends…but we’re family. We can fight like family; we can have fun like family.”
So when he and the four other members of Seryn sing, “Every part I lose is a part worth letting go” in anthemic unison on “Disappear,” they fucking mean it. It’s the collective voice of a band fighting for its life, affirming that, yes, this is all really worth it.
Seryn started when Wheeler and guitarist/vocalist Nathan Allen met at college in Denton, Texas. With bassist/vocalist Aaron Stoner, the band released its 2011 debut, This Is Where We Are, and toured heavily on the release, barely taking a pause through lineup shifts in 2012 and 2014. The changes resulted in creative blocks, resulting in a four-year gap between debut and sophomore releases.
It’s a delay that could’ve killed any other band just learning to walk, having gained momentum with press and touring coast to coast with an acclaimed live show. In 2012, NPR’s All Songs Considered named Seryn one of five bands that “should be bigger.” To make good on that kind of promise, the band moved to Nashville — an industry center friendly to its slightly twangy sound — in 2014 from its remote Texas home base with new members Jenny Moscoso (banjo/guitar/vocals), Jordan Rochefort (drums), and Scarlett Deering (violin/vocals).
The reborn Seryn will play their first pair of dates in the city, April 21 at the Mercury Lounge and then a headlining gig at Rough Trade on April 24. The band has more in store than plucked strings and the crescendoing earnestness that often prompts surface comparisons to Arcade Fire or Mumford and Sons. Seryn have a live penchant for volume and a grand sweep, musically and conceptually. It’s buried in the details, like Wheeler’s frame of reference for the music and lyrics of Shadow Shows finale “Kaleidoscope.” He named it after a Ray Bradbury short story, which, like the 2013 film Gravity, features astronauts adrift in space, confronting their mortality and place in the vast universe.
“There’s some of that imagery [in the song], of floating around in this chasm of a universe,” Wheeler said, getting philosophical. “We’re here, whether for some greater cosmic reason or by accident. We have a number of days here on this earth when we’re living and breathing. And [the lyrics] are just kind of a reflection: ‘At the end of the line, who will wait for you there?’ ”
Have you ever been in a serious committed relationship before? Seryn want to be your steady, the one to wait for you there.
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