Bonneville celebrate the release of Amy’s House at Canal Street Tavern
By Nick Schwab
“Always different, always the same.”
This is a famous contradiction by radio personality John Peel when describing the conflicting style of British post-punks, the Fall. Its heart beats on in Bonneville: a Dayton breed indie-rock four piece (now residing in Columbus) that are set to release their first album, Amy’s House, on December 9.
Ever since the first radio waves of rock ‘n’ roll struck the ears and hearts of listeners there has always been conformity. Maybe not a consensus of styles, but in frame of mind: one band has one sound. That is often the radio law.
However, the laws in art are always meant to be broken. Some bands break them and are sadly (or rightfully) forgotten. Others shatter it with a wrecking ball.
Talking to Bonneville’s Ryan Pitts, you hear a band at the crossroads of creative decision. That is: have one cohesive sound to achieve success or play it atypical and (maybe) be artists out of their time, or even one that will never be well known at all.
“This has plagued me for a very long time,” said Pitts. “The fact that songs have different singers and each song has a different feeling. They can sound like they are coming from different bands.”
Like all artists, Pitts seems to struggle with mass acceptance and creativity.
“It kind of sucks — bands on the radio, they have an identifiable sound. People hear it and know which band it is,” he tells. Then adds, “I wish we had that going on. It is kind of better for pop music if you have a distinguished sound. We could have written a different album for each song.”
However, the ultimate question may be which side of his dilemma will win?
“We’ve always talked about having one voice. But (Amy’s House) would not be the same record if we did that. We wouldn’t be the same band we are if each song sounded the exact same.”
This disorganization does not sound so much like multiple creative personalities, than it is more about artistic discretion. However, the admirable thing about Pitts is that he realizes his band’s criticisms, but only pays attention to them so much.
Isn’t that the mark of a true artist? One that makes music for oneself more than making it for others. Many would say it is.
One could say that Amy’s House is an album birthed from that same cloth of a certain indirection achieving progression.
“All the songs are inspired by the transition of college life to getting out into the real world: the uncertainty that comes with that,” described Pitts.
Like many 20-somethings during post-college, Bonneville may “love to get loud and rowdy,” but they also pay attention to other emotions and are just as heartfelt as they are “four-on-the-floor.”
“We still try to be cognizant of having different dynamics: having more subtle parts (and) quieting things down before starting it up again,” Pitts said.
This sense of contrast does not just come out in their style and sound, but also their dynamics and lyrics.
“Some of the songs, like ‘Go Getter,’ the lyrics and the melody have a sad feel,” Pitts explains. “But in that same song the music has a happy feeling. Then on songs, like ‘The Uniform,’ we get pretty heavy. That is our anti-conformity song.”
Pitts knows that all art is in the eye of the beholder, just like in the feelings he gets when he gives the album a listen may not be what another person or even another band member feels.
“There are different kinds of emotions in every song … it’s how you interpret it and how you relate it to your own life and experiences,” Pitts said.
Pitts acknowledges his influences with passion. The band that he feels is his biggest one, he also thinks is most every musician’s, as well.
“I think all bands are influenced by (the Beatles) in some way. If they say they are not they are just sadly unaware or they are denying it.”
The album Amy’s House itself, much like an emotional musclehead, sounds very powerful in sound. To achieve this Bonneville actually recorded the whole album live.
“We did some overdubs to the lyrics and lead guitar tracks, but mostly what you hear is a live recording, “ said Pitts. “We just tried to get really beefy tones: all of us are tone freaks.”
Much like an adolescent male dealing with adult feelings, Pitts is unsure where his creativity comes from.
“It comes from a feeling that I get within,” Pitts concluded about his creative process. “When I sit down it just starts coming out. I don’t force it. It just comes out.”
Bonneville will be celebrating the release of Amy’s House with a show at Canal Street Tavern on Saturday, December 10 with Human Cannonball. Doors open at 9 p.m. For more information, visit www.bonnevilleband.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Nick Schwab at NickSchwab@DaytonCityPaper.com.