Locals Only: : Hierophant

Area newcomers ready their first CD, Portals

Jul 9, 2003 at 2:06 pm

Hierophant's debut CD, Portals, is a good introduction to a group with an eclectic Rock sound that's all over the musical map. Their influences range from Pink Floyd to Sonic Youth to Tom Waits to Guided by Voices, and these and more can be heard in the band's music.

According to singer/guitarist/bassist Chris Storms, the soundscape of styles on Portals was unintentional, and is partly attributed to each member's ability to write songs.

"Most of our songs were one person's idea, and are fleshed out by the rest of the band," Storms says. "Each member writes songs differently, and all of the styles come out."

Hierophant's members, Storms, singer/guitarist/keyboardist Brad Bowman, main bassist Scott Fuhr and drummer Bob White, attribute their sound not only to sharing songwriting duties, but also to sharing instrumental duties.

Storms, formerly of acclaimed local band, Ditchweed, began recording music with Bowman in 1995. They asked Fuhrs to join the project and played as a three-piece for a short time, but were looking for a drummer. Bob White heard the band practicing from across the street and introduced himself.

"We were actually auditioning someone else that night," says Bowman.

"So when Bob walked up to us and said he could play drums, we thought he was some weirdo. Then we heard him play, and we were blown away."

Hierophant has existed in its present form for three years. When asked about the meaning of the band's name, Bowman agrees to take the question.

"I was looking through the dictionary one day and came across 'hierophant," he explains. "I thought it was ambiguous enough to describe our sound. There are bands like Radiohead and Coldplay, whose names just seem to define their sound. That's what we were going for." It's actually an ancient Greek word describing someone who reveals mysteries; in many Tarot card decks, the hierophant is personified as a pope or a high priest.

Bowman, a journalism major, says writing about other people's lives affects his songwriting. "Some of the songs I write have stemmed from a conversation with myself, and others from a character or motif that we've discussed. We don't write about what we don't know — we write about what we know through our own and other people's experiences."

In response to a question about Cincinnati's music scene, Storms hesitates. "I think a lot of good acts have come out of Cincinnati, but if you look back to 1990 or 1991, the local music scene was much more involved," he says. "Part of the problem is that a lot of national acts seem to stay away from Cincinnati, and people don't really come from far away to see local musicians."

Bowman concedes, "Audience interest seems much less than it used to be. The scene here has the potential to be great, but it is limited as far as national exposure is concerned."

For a band that is only three years old, Hierophant has achieved a number of accomplishments. The first and foremost, says Storms, is recording a disc on their own.

"I think it's a stepping stone, both to more exposure and another CD, which will probably be more ambitious," he says. "Also, we feel like we've achieved above-demo quality on this CD, so it doesn't sound like we recorded it in someone's basement."

Concerning the band's future, Bowman is optimistic.

"Since this project has started, I think we have progressed from one goal to the next, so naturally, we'll continue to progress. I know that we won't sign on to a record label just to be on a label. We plan to record a new CD in the winter, and we have about half of that material already. I think that, unless the right situation comes along with the right label, we'll always be a grassroots band, doing everything ourselves. But it would be incorrect to stop where we are. Music is something we have been doing since we were 15 years old, and I can't see us just stopping now. I think in some ways, we do this because we have to."

HIEROPHANT's CD release party is at the Southgate House on Saturday, with T-Lips and Combs and Morals Galore. Check out Hierophant's Web site at hierophantsound.com.