Fresh from their first ever night on tour in the UK, Promised Land Sound make tracks from London and head up to York. It’s a night that proves to be a sweaty blur of garage rock with a twang of psychedelia.
That’s to attempt to define the Nashville quartet; they’re certainly a band that don’t want to be put into a box and labelled. Some say garage rock and psychedelic; others say country and folk. One thing is fair to say however: with a new single released earlier this year (‘By The Rain’), it’s clear the four musicians are walking into exciting new territory. Talking about their plans for the upcoming year, bassist Joey explains, “We’re writing a lot right now and will be for the next little while, then we’ll start to think about recording. We’re gonna spend a lot of time making sure it sounds right”. Guitarist Peter, and respective band member of The Paperheads, chips in “we’re just trying to figure out our sound; what our thing is”.
Live, Promised Land’s sound dramatically varies; they’re increasingly impossible to pin down. The gentler, crowd-warming numbers of ‘Push and Pull (All the time)’ and ‘Canfield Drive’, really show off the skillful co-ordination of the bass and drum. There’s a creation of a subtle, but lasting verve and it does credit to the technique of the Scala brothers, Joey and Evan. Letting loose with the extroverted garage rock of ‘Golden Child’, Sean puts his foot down on the effects pedal, and the bass drum kit visibly convulses with the change of tone; it’s an alternation that doesn’t go unnoticed as the crowd’s interest piques.
Asked about favourite guitar effects, Sean seems in his element, “I like my ‘delay’ a lot. Not like ‘The Edge’, U2 and that; I like old taped delay sounds, and ‘fuzz’ is really important. All the fuzzes are plugged into a compressor, so it’s not actually like a pedal, but instead a rack board”, and smiling almost guiltily he adds, “nerd-speak”. On stage the close of ‘Within Sound’ witnesses the distortion cranked up a notch as it reaches the number’s apex. Staying true to their mottled style, Stringer-Hye’s initial guitar technique mellows as he walks the number effortlessly around the strings.
Backstage, the band’s laid-back sense of humour is impossible not to feel at ease around. Peter and Sean are sat on a brown leather sofa that’s almost invisible for the bags and coats piled on top. Joey and Evan are standing drinking Becks; laughing over how they both caught the flu on their 2015 tour. Maybe it’s this sense of familiarity that the listener feels with their music. The cover of their album itself is a homespun creation. Evan’s explaining, “that was our dad’s painting from like the 80s. We just went over to his old house and got a bunch of slides of his work.” Chipping in, Joey adds, “there were like 300”. And that’s just it. Promised Land Sound have managed to, and are managing to, replicate that habitual comfort of flicking through photos, art and records. That feeling of brushing off the dust from a momentarily forgotten memory and watching it catch the light. Their record label, Paradise of Bachelors, claim the band chooses to ‘begin at the beginning’ and it’s not untrue. They combine their influences, and take you back to an unprocessed wholesomeness. Evidently it’s something that listeners on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean are holding an affinity to.
Upon leaving the Fulford Arms after the gig, we’re left in no doubt as to why the band have attracted a credible flurry of attention. Jack White released a live 7″ of theirs on his Third Man Records, whilst it was only back in 2014 the band were on tour with Angel Olsen and in 2015 Alabama Shakes. Reminded of this before the gig, the four musicians spill over into reminiscing. “It was a pretty crazy opportunity for us” Peter says, referring to 2015. No doubt it’s a sign of good things to come; at least for now it lends a lot to their cool and collected attitude on stage. Ending their set on the softer, more melancholic “She Takes Me There”, the band round up their set with an assured togetherness.
Sadly for us, Promised Land Sound’s UK’s tour has drawn to a close. For those who are interested, however, guitarist Peter will be trekking back to Manchester; this time with his band The Paperhead. If anyone is that way in April, they’re definitely worth a look in. For now, the bands music is all available on spotify and soundcloud: