About a year ago, indie rock band The Reflexes weren’t looking too good.
After releasing its first album, “Dissolve Yourself,” the band’s former drummer didn’t like the seriousness that The Reflexes’ reputation was getting and decided to leave. Shortly after, its manager also called it quits.
After the band posted a “drummer wanted” flyer in the Boyer School of Music and Dance as its last hope, new drummer Tyler DiMarco answered the call to make The Reflexes whole again.
All coming from musical backgrounds early on, The Reflexes’ sound can be defined by guitar riffs and progressive vocal and instrumental harmonies as an exploration of sound itself through different techniques.
The Reflexes recorded its first EP “The Reflexes” in front-man Dash Williams’ bedroom and have since flourished, playing at venues such as World Cafe Live. The band said it still prefers the vibe of house shows, however, all members agreed the audiences at these shows respond better to the music.
The band has set its future high, hoping to one day play at Glastonbury Festival, but for now it is organizing a summer tour where the group hopes to do shows in New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
The band is composed of lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist Williams, lead guitarist and backup vocalist Danielle Farley, bass guitarist Jake Held and drummer DiMarco. All are Temple students besides Held, who goes to Drexel University.
THE TEMPLE NEWS: What was the song process of releasing your first album, “The Reflexes,” compared to the process of your second album, “Dissolve Yourself” like?
DASH WILLIAMS: “The Reflexes” was a teaser for the album “Dissolve Yourself.” All the songs are the same. The recording took a very long time. We just wanted to get something out so people could actually hear us, so I can’t say that the song process was very different because one is a part of the other. We all wrote “Rocket Science” collectively.
DANIELLE FARLEY: [Williams] wrote all of the songs and I added on a couple of parts to them. From the first one to the second one, I probably wrote more.
TTN: Out of all your songs, which was the most fun to play?
DW: I’m a big fan of “Waves in the Horizon” because toward the end of the song I stop playing my instrument while everyone else keeps playing, and I’m just singing to the audience. I sort of scan over the audience and look everyone in the eye. It’s a really fun thing for me to do. When you’re just singing, either your eyes are closed [or] you’re not even looking at people and you’re just sort of going. At that moment in the song, I just look at every single person.
DF: “Advertisement Plane” was really fun. It’s long and there are some really cool guitar parts.
TYLER DIMARCO: “Worshipped by the Bees” was a lot of fun. It’s probably my favorite.
TTN: Your music genre is alternative indie rock. How does your music reflect this and what techniques do you use?
DW: We use emotion a lot in our songs. We have a lot of builds. I hate to use this word, but I think a lot of our songs have a very epic quality to them. We use a lot of riffs and harmonies. It’s difficult to classify.
TD: I come from a funk jazz background, so I try to incorporate a little bit of that into what we do. I kind of stick to what’s on the recording to please these guys. It works for the songs. If I play on my own, I get free reign.
TTN: You’ve played both house shows and at venues. What is the difference in experience in both environments?
DW: At house shows there’s a lot less pressure. You just show up and there’s already a lot of people there. Most of the time they’re horribly intoxicated and everyone’s very loose. Everything sounds good to everyone. Even if the PA is s—–, everyone loves it. They’re dancing, singing along and moshing. There’s a lot of pressure at venues because we’re from West Chester and it’s hard to bring people out to Philadelphia.
TD: I haven’t played a venue with these guys, but I’ve played at a few venues with another band. I like house shows better because everyone’s having a little more fun. Venues are cool because I feel like a grownup. Depending on the venue, it can be really fun – no pressure – or it can be a lot of pressure. There are questions like, “Is it a bar? Are people drinking? Are people having fun? How many people came? How many tickets were sold?” So depending on all those factors, it can be a blast or just be awful.
DF: I have more fun at the house shows now, but I think once our audience starts getting older, they’ll be able to come out to the shows. It’ll get better for us. For now, house shows are fun and everyone has a good time, so that’s what I care about.
TTN: What was your first show like?
DW: [Farley], [Held] and I all went to the School of Rock as we were growing up. Someone she met on All Stars offered us a show, and we thought the show was going to be down at [University of the Arts] in Philadelphia. So we were all super excited. It was going to be our first show, it was Halloween-themed.
DF: Turns out it’s a high school party at their parents’ house. They had a really nice house, but it was outside and it was cold.
TD: We had to keep it down because their neighbors called the cops last year when they had the party. All the cymbals and heads were taped up on the drum set.
DW: We had to turn our amps way down really close to zero. After every song, no one clapped. They just stared at us. We played a really good set that night.
DF: They complimented us afterward, but they didn’t know how to clap.
TD: Then they started playing bebop. It was relieving. They sounded like music majors. If you’re a music major, you just don’t sit there and not clap when someone finishes playing.
DW: It wasn’t the situation where we were playing in the background and people were doing other things. They were all looking at us. It was so awkward. We were leaving and they were complimenting us and asking us to stay. We were just like, “No, this is weird for both of us.”
DF: I felt bad because I was the one who got the gig. The kid went to [University of the Arts] so I figured it would be at his house. I knew he was younger, but I didn’t know that he only had high school friends.
DW: I felt so bad for [DiMarco].
TD: I was wearing a sock monkey onesie. It was a Halloween show. Hardly anyone else was dressed up. We all did, so I looked like an idiot. We played really quiet outside in the cold with this beautiful house staring us in the face with these high schoolers, and no one claps, which is strange. On our way out, people were saying how good we were and someone starts playing bebop, which is the icing on the cake. It was just the weirdest thing.
TTN: Who are all of your musical influences?
DW: Lyrically, I’d have to say Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes. I spent a long time just studying the way he writes lyrics, and I’ve used that for my own writing. I have music roots with Nirvana, but I listen to a lot of Radiohead and Vampire Weekend for that indie rock sound, with some pop influences scattered about.
TD: I’m not on the same scene as these guys. Growing up, I listened to a lot of Zeppelin. John Bonham is the king. I listen and studied a lot of jazz. I like Max Roach and Elvin Jones. I listen to a lot of older stuff, not so much contemporary, I’m not really on the music scene.
DF: My favorite artist is Tom Waits. He’s a big influence for me, but I like a lot of folk stuff. I really like Bob Dylan. But I also like the indie rock genre, The National and Radiohead. I like a little bit of everything.
TTN: Do you plan on touring soon or have any new projects in the works?
DW: We don’t really have anything set for the tour right now. We’re talking to some places. [DiMarco] has been great with contacting venues. We’d like to go for two weeks at most. We’re doing the EP. It will probably just be an EP, and we’re having those recording sessions in March scheduled, so hopefully we’ll have something out by summertime. That would be wicked awesome.
Holli Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.