When a singer-songwriter approaches the stage, most listeners prepare for acoustic four-chord ballads influenced by break-ups, high school and an array of faux-emo millennial artists. Shane Graybill, under the name of Cult Choir, brings something not-so-new to the table with music inspired by your parents’ – or maybe your grandparents’ – generation. Graybill pulls styles of the ‘50s golden oldies, psych rock of the ‘60s and ‘80s new wave and mixes it together with a dark, modern electronic twist.
Cult Choir, active for three years, released its fourth album entitled “Fantasy 6” last month. Graybill lives in Denver, Pennsylvania but still finds himself on Philadelphia stages quite often. Cult Choir’s next city gig is on Sept. 11 at Bourbon & Branch, sharing the stage with Pill Friends and Abi Reimold.
The Temple News: So, tell me about Cult Choir and how you got into music.
Shane Graybill: I got into music not too long after high school . Went through a bit of a tough time dealing with, you know, all kinds of fun that turned into not fun. I never really played music when I was younger and I never really took any lessons. I just pick up instruments and make noise with them and whatever I think sounds good I just roll with.
I was in a few different bands a few years ago. After they disbanded, I started working on solo stuff and started out pretty heavily with synthesizers and drum machines and electronic influences. Then I just got more into using the guitar and live drums and that’s the direction it’s headed right now.
I just released my fourth album. It’s called “Fantasy 6.” It’s a pretty short album with a lot of quick songs. It’s heavily influenced by a lot of old school crooners, doo wop and golden oldies, as well as a little bit of ‘60s psychedelic rock.
TTN: How’d you get involved with the Philly scene?
SG: I just started contacting venues and booking shows and contacting various people that I met through Facebook and now a lot of times I will just contact bands right away and be like, ‘Hey, can I open up for you?’ And usually – well not usually, sometimes – it just works out for the best.
TTN: So how long have you been doing Cult Choir?
SG: I would say about three years now I’ve been working as Cult Choir. Everything kinda has a full band sound on the recording but when I play live I just loop guitars, play drums and sing. It’s a pretty minimal set-up.
TTN: What releases do you have as Cult Choir?
SG: I have four full-lengths, two acoustic EPs and two split EPs, so a decent amount.
TTN: Who are the splits with?
SG: One of my friends from Harrisburg, his band Selah.Selah. Another guy I met through Facebook and Bandcamp. He goes by Balue and I think he’s from New Mexico, but I guess for a little while he was in the Colorado area and I’m not sure where he’s at right now. I don’t really know him too well, but I liked his music and we just kinda connected.
TTN: What are some big influences to your music?
SG: My influences go from all over. I like listening to the old school crooners, like Dean Martin, Sinatra, Chet Baker, I like Marvin Gaye, I like Roy Orbison. The Velvet Underground, of course. The Stones, The Beatles, The Kinks. I like a lot of the old girl-groups like The Shirelles. It’s really all over the place. My albums are sort of the same way. You’ll have a slow song and then a fast song. You’ll have a really minimal song and then a really crazy, no-sense song.
TTN: What about influences outside of music?
SG: Definitely film. I watch a lot of David Lynch. In fact, I just watched “Lost Highway” for the first time last night and I was really liking that.
A lot of times when I write lyrics it’s almost like I’m writing as a character in a movie or a story. I’ll sometimes write about real life circumstances that are going on in my life, but sometimes I’ll distort it in a way that works for my music.
TTN: What are some plans for Cult Choir?
SG: I’m trying to play shows and get my music out as much as possible. I’m planning moving out to Portland at the end of the year and play some more west coast shows.