Locals Only: : Pomegranates

Eclectic, eye- and ear-opening Indie newcomers are on the local music fast track

May 2, 2007 at 2:06 pm


Pomegranates came together by chance in autumn, 2006. A progressive, edgy Indie band that makes use of live Electronica, they're both startling and alluring as all Hell. Check out their curious use of transitions; it'll keep you hard at guesswork, both unsettling and clever. Perhaps the use of strange changes comes from talent. Perhaps it comes from an indescribable connection, a weird inner guide that cements musicians together more than verses and choruses ever could.

Pomegranates have tapped into this sharp spontaneity, a style embraced by bands such as Granddaddy, Modest Mouse and Lake Trout. Part of this unique style rests in humility. Often, an instrument will back off, allowing another to stand out. Drums and guitar rock out, and the vocals get quiet. Vocals holler and the instruments chill.

The result is a collective give and take, a humble attitude also present in Pomegranates' vocals. Joey Cook, 20, and Isaac Karns, 19, share the lead singer role.

Cook is small in stature with a thrifty, striped sweater, soft brown eyes and wavy hair. Wearing a zip hoodie with no strings, his shoes resemble slippers. Laid back with a calming, melodic speaking voice, Cook came into Pomegranates on keys, then vocals and guitar.

Karns brings influence from his band, Open, O Coloured World, an Ambient band with a less somber, cranked-up Depeche Mode vibe. With deep blue eyes and light coloring, Karns resembles Craig Fox of The Greenhornes. Karns jokes that he started his music career with a Fischer Price tape recorder, then guitar in second grade.

Jacob Merritt, 23, started playing drums in high school. Black hair makes his watery blue eyes stand out, boldly piercing. His tight white T-shirt shows the drummers' biceps. Merritt brings the force behind the creative rhythms.

Karl Spaeth, 22, equally splits his time between bass and guitar. With a dark, full beard, he jokes that he'll never have a goatee ... all or nothing. Spaeth started playing guitar and bass in eighth grade, then did the high school Punk Rock thing.

At their first practice, Merritt, Karns and Cook wrote "Nursery Magic," a song currently posted on their MySpace page. Karns met Spaeth through a mutual friend, and they bonded over talk about U.K. band, My Bloody Valentine.

After the band's first show in January, 2007, Cook says, "We've been fortunate to play wherever we want. I thought it'd be a long time before we'd play the Southgate (House), but we've been able to play both The Parlour and The Ballroom."

Their first EP, Two Exes, will be out this May. Recorded inside a converted attic at Lunchington studios in Columbus, Two Exes includes "The Children's Progress," which begins innocently, like its title, then unexpectedly jerks into something rocking, out of nowhere. "Nursery Magic" begins with a melody that'll get glued to your brain. Next comes Cook's convincingly female-sounding voice. Then the song moves into an unorthodox litany of changes. Bold moves. Stops and drops when you think it's gonna fly.

Karns' voice is understated, innocent, whispery and light with a subtlety that stands out ironically, as in The Cure. Carefully delivered, soft and asexual, it seems he's more concerned with feel than typical structure.

No one person writes the song's shell. They write as they go, giving it the overall surprising sound. Karns says, "Our songwriting process is as unorthodox as our song structures. Typically, someone has an idea for about 20 seconds of a song, and we build on it."

As far as influences, they mention The Zombies and Buddy Holly, but Cook stresses their individuality. "I feel like we're all good at being creative," he says, explaining that spirituality is the main undertone.

"We're hopefully influenced by the Holy Spirit or Jesus," Karns explains. "That's the underlying glue, but our songs are our songs."

Cook says, "People see us and say they can tell there's a peace and a joy there. I feel like we're just doing what we're supposed to be doing."

"If you truly believe in something, people will pick up on that," Merritt says. "People will usually appreciate a song, a book, a painting, etc, if they sense sincerity, and it's characterized by quality. It doesn't matter if a Buddhist, Christian, Atheist, Mormon or Muslim person created it. Good art is good art. We want to affect as many people as we can with good art."

This art is unique and it's obvious, from their mellow, peaceful, affectionate natures, that these musicians have a tight underlying musical link. The bands they've been in, their outlooks, and their creative direction tie them together, making this a group to watch out for and hear. Amen.

POMEGRANATES (myspace.com/pomegranatesart) play The Underground in Forest Park Saturday and May 23 at the Southgate House Parlour with Chris Garneau.