After an exciting first year, the members of this spunky indie rock group are ready to release more music, play more shows and see what else the future holds for them.
Husband and wife Shane and Alyssa Jewell were hanging out at the Southbound Music Festival at Avondale Brewing Company in Birmingham when a chance meeting with an artist named Brandon Snipes turned into a serious conversation about forming a band.
“We just stumbled upon Brandon playing on one of the stages, and we were just totally into it,” Alyssa says. “We were wowed by it. It was one of the best, if not our favorite, act we’d seen. I remember Shane saying, ‘Wow, if we had a record label, we would sign this person right now.’”
Following their conversation at the festival, Shane and Brandon – who goes by “B. Snipes” as a solo artist – started playing music together, sharing sound ideas and comparing their personal tastes in other musicians. They started recording songs in Shane’s home studio, gradually solidifying their unique sound and musical identity. Joining Brandon and Shane were Alyssa, Kyle Blair and James McCauley. Brandon, 28, and Alyssa, 31, share lead vocals; Shane, 34, plays lead guitar and some keyboard; James, 40, plays bass; and Kyle, 20, plays the drums.
In early 2017, they decided to make their collaboration in music a more permanent, public project. The band MRYGLD, pronounced “marigold,” was born.
“I came up with the name,” Brandon says, laughing. “The spelling of it in all caps and without the vowels … I think it makes us stand out, especially if you’re looking through a lineup. It makes people think on it a little bit more.”
“Broadly speaking, indie rock is the appropriate genre,” Brandon says of the band’s music.
Well-known bands like Florence and the Machine, Metric, Broken Social Scene, Blondie, The Strokes, The Killers and even Susan Boyle inspire the members of MRYGLD.
Shane, affectionately dubbed “the man behind the curtain,” does the bulk of the band’s recording in his home studio. Brandon has also acquired enough equipment to record and edit at home, too.
The band members didn’t realize how much music they had produced until they needed to cull songs for their EP.
“We just had a ton of material,” Alyssa says. “We picked the six songs on the EP that we felt like went together the best, fleshed them out and perfected them.”
They filmed a music video for one of the songs, “Cool Kids,” at different spots in Hoover. Some people from the Hoover Public Library, where Alyssa works, appeared in the video.
“It’s very Hoover-centric,” she says.
MRYGLD’s live shows are as dynamic and engaging as their upbeat songs. It helps that Alyssa and Brandon both have a theatre background. They make sure their shows feature visual components and wardrobe changes that keep the audience interested.
“We don’t take ourselves too seriously,” Alyssa says. “It’s kind of rambunctious, but it seems like it reaches a bunch of different people, including children.”
When Brandon pulls out his werewolf mask during shows, Alyssa has to look away from him so she doesn’t start laughing. But that’s the fun of it; when one member has what Brandon calls a “wacky” idea, everyone else is willing to go along with it.
“It’s light and friendly, but flashy. It’s definitely a good dynamic,” she says. “It’s like every day is Halloween. We have so much fun.”
The flashiness seems to cut their nerves on stage. “I don’t feel anxious anytime we play shows in MRYGLD as I did in the past. For this, I just feel like there’s so much talent, it’s just going to work out,” Shane says.
And each member brings his or her own flair to the group. “I think all the people in the band are highly creative,” Brandon says. “Everyone brings great technical skill. Shane especially brings a great amount of technical skill. Everyone has such good ideas.”
According to Alyssa, Brandon is a good showman. “That’s not something you can be taught; you have it or you don’t have it.”
James is so solid as a bassist that he’s “like a robot,” she says, and Kyle is “beyond his years” as a younger musician with a great work ethic.
They have played numerous shows at various venues, including Saturn, Birmingham Art Walk, The Atomic Lounge, along with private events like weddings, graduation parties and charity events.
When they’re not working or playing a show, they’re practicing. It’s not uncommon for Brandon to write songs while he’s driving and share them with the group at practice.
“Brandon comes up with an absurd amount of music,” Alyssa says. “We all have input (with the lyrics), and we make adjustments going along. It’s a very symbiotic process.”
“We can’t practice enough to keep up with the amount of material we come up with,” Shane adds.
They are planning to release a new EP this summer. Based on the support and positive feedback they received for their first album, they’re optimistic about what the future holds for MRYGLD.
“We’ve met so many people that we would not have met otherwise,” Alyssa says. And because it’s a side project for all of the members, they have the flexibility to do as little or as much as they want with MRYGLD. “It’s kind of freeing in a certain aspect. There’s no pressure whatsoever. You can make what feels good to perform.”
MRYGLD music is available on Spotify and iTunes.
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