Shadow Band | photo by Paul Benson | courtesy of the artist
PREMIERE: At home with alt-folk mystics Shadow Band in the “Moonshine” video
Mike Bruno bounced around the regional music scene for the better part of a decade before landing on a house in South Philadelphia where the creative stars aligned.
The singer, guitarist and primary songwriter of Shadow Band launched his current project in the ornate rowhome he shares with drummer Matt Marchesano and several of his various collaborators. “It has been our main base to rehearse, and write, and practice,” says Marchesano. “Our friends are always welcome there, they’re always recording with us. It was the right combination of people in Philly, at this moment. It was the perfect storm.”
Bruno, Marchesano and their bandmates all juggle various instruments — Megan Biscieglia of Bad Braids is on banjo and lily harp; Sean Yenchick does waterphone and violin; James Christy handles bass and Casio keyboards; Morgan Morel plays keys and space guitar; Paul Christian is on flute and sax; Jules Nehring focuses on just guitar; and Jake Brunner holds down bass and keys. Shadow Band just joined the roster at Mexican Summer Records — also home to releases by Quilt, Purling Hiss and Weyes Blood, who they just played Everybody Hits with — and their Eagle Unseen 7″, which you can listen to below, is out today.
Bruno reflects on the influence of that perfect storm his bandmate spoke of, that unassuming house with copious creative energy.
“Recording at home is the most comfortable way for me,” he says. “It has to be amongst friends and in a comfortable environment. It has to be homey – a basement circle, a living room circle. Anything too sterile, and it doesn’t really put me in the right place.”
In that sense, the origins of Shadow Band recall the origins of the like-minded (and dearly departed) Philly outfit Espers, who came together under similar circumstances almost 15 years ago in a house in Fishtown. Their sonic reference points are similar, as well — a reverence of late 60s English folk revival artists like Fairport Convention, Pentangle, Trees, Steeleye Span and more, with a touch of psychedelic mysticism. “Bands from [that era] have been really empowering in a way,” says Bruno. “They were bringing back these very old traditional songs and putting a new spin to it. I found that really exciting when I immersed myself in that world.”
But if you asked him his favorite artist, Bruno admitted, he would straight up tell you it’s Black Sabbath. Other members of Shadow Band, who originally hail from Detroit and Ann Arbor, have a garage rock foundation. Others still have a background in hip-hop and pop. The music of Shadow Band, Bruno is quick to stress, isn’t solely his vision, but a collective vision informed by everyone’s influences. But unfussily so — the sound you hear in the 7″ feels very immediate and in-the-moment, an honest result of organic chemistry.
“Personally, I’m really into the idea that one take should be sufficient,” Bruno says of recording. “Being at home, there’s not as much to worry about. If something goes wrong, you can troubleshoot. You’re just around your friends and the cat. It’s cool, you don’t have to worry about messing up. It’s very cozy in that way, and being in that environment allows you to be more open and honest with everything.”
Below, go inside Shadow Band’s home (and meet the aforementioned cat) in an introductory music video set to the haunting tones of “Moonshine.” The Eagle Unseen 7″ can be ordered here via Mexican Summer.