Bridge Underwater has been active in the Philly music scene since 2005, releasing three EPs and an album. Their newest EP, Send Me All Your Love (available now for a bargain bottom $1 at Bandcamp), is a gamechanger. The titular track has been spinning Noise Narcs’ platters several times a day since we were introduced to it last week. A Beatles-esque romp that dips its feet into New Wave’s driving guitar and beat, “Send Me All Your Love” makes big on the duo’s promise. Leadsinger Pat Mellon, whose voice has a tinge of Gordon Gano’s fragile intensity, sat down to answer Noise Narcs’ questions in advance of their record release party at North Star on Saturday.
Introduce your band. Where’re you all from?
The band is me on guitar and vocals and John Basile on drums. So far on all of the recordings, I’ve played everything, but John is going to be playing drums from now on. We’re both from Southwest Philly and have known each other since we were 12. Right now it’s just the two of us playing live. Maybe sometime down the road we’ll find other people to play with, but we’re not really worried about that now. We’re just concentrating on practicing as much as possible and writing as many songs as we can.
Southwest Philly is a neighborhood I associate more with Beanie Siegal than indie rock. What brought you to Southwest Philly? What’re your favorite things about it?
I grew up in Southwest, and all of my friends are from Southwest, including John. At the moment I’m actually living in Delaware County, but John still lives in Southwest, and we practice at his house. I guess my favorite things about the neighborhood are my memories from growing up there. I think Beanie Sigel is from South Philly, maybe? Either way I wouldn’t mind being associated with Beans. [Sigel got his name from Sigel Street in western South Philly, not Southwest Philly... got it? -Ed]
Your most recent album and EP, Feeling and The Love EP, had a distinctly and intentionally lo-fi sound. Send Me All Your Love is lush, and not just by comparison. What made you move in that direction?
Here’s the long story: I recorded an EP called The Music in Your Mind before Feeling. I spent a lot of time, way too much time, mixing it. I recorded that one digitally. The mixing process really sucked the life out of the music for me, and I ended up hating those songs. I learned from that experience that the most important thing is to write a good song first. Recording and mixing are always secondary and can’t help make a bad song good. So after that I didn’t record another song for like 6 months because I was too scared it would be another horrible experience. Finally, I decided to just make things as simple as
possible, so I recorded Feeling with just me and a guitar into a tape recorder—that way I wouldn’t be tempted to mix the thing and freak out over it. After that I just kept writing songs, and I decided to record the new ones for Send Me on the computer again. I finally stopped worrying about what was better, lo-fi or digital. And this time around I didn’t mix the songs which really helped. I also felt like I owed it to these new songs to give them a more “hi-fi” sound and a better mix. I’m happy with how things have turned out.
Your press email said that you’re “really into The Beatles, so I think that might come through in the music.” That’s true. But in my ears, your music has the same relationship to The Beatles as a lot of the Elephant Six collective: an influence skewed. What other influences brought you to your sound?
That’s cool you mention the Elephant Six collective because Neutral Milk Hotel is one of my favorite bands. I also really enjoy Animal Collective. I think my favorite band making music right now, though, is Girls. Album is one of my favorite albums ever.
Although it’s no oddity for pop songs to be about love, your songs seems preternaturally occupied with love. What draws you to pop music’s biggest subject?
I’m not really sure. After Feeling, which was a bunch of sad songs, I intentionally wrote some happy love songs. But since then the only thing that’s been coming to me is love songs really. It seems like if
the songs aren’t about love then they’re about death. But I’m happy to write about those two subjects because they’re something everyone has some experience with, and they’re pretty important subjects.
What are you favorite Philly bands? What Philly band do you think is unjustly overlooked?
Sweet Lights, Tough Shits, Arc in Round. I’m not sure who is unjustly overlooked. I wouldn’t mind seeing more and more people talk about Sweet Lights though because his music is awesome.
A few months ago, we ran a “Hot Tub Rock Show” feature where we listed the bands we’d love to travel back in time to see.
I wouldn’t mind traveling back in time to watch The Beatles play in Hamburg, Germany. I’d rather see them there than when they came to America and only played half-hour sets. It would be awesome to watch them rock out all night long, do impersonations of Hitler, and generally go insane.
Best bar in Philly? Best bar in Philly, not-in-your-neighborhood division?
There isn’t a bar I’d really want to visit in Southwest… haha. But in general in Philly, I really like The Fire. It’s a cool venue to play at, but it’s also just a cool place to hangout at. Good people. Good vibes.
Bridge Undewrater’s EP is out now on Best Try Records.
Bridge Underwater w/ Warm Whiskey, Music Box Dynamo, and Dinosaur Eyelids
Saturday, 12/4, 9PM: $9 [Buy Tickets]
North Star Bar, 2639 Poplar St, Philadelphia, PA