The Gravity Car's vocalist and guitarist, Stephen Sunday, knows he's found kindred spirits. "I walked in to band practice and said, 'I'm writing a musical based on a translation of the work of a dead homosexual author by his lover and we're all going to be in it and play the music for it,' " says Sunday of one work in progress. "And these two guys said, 'OK.' "
"These two guys" are band mates Jeff Snyder (bass) and Ben Wirsching (drums), and the musical is based on Lord Alfred Douglas' translation of Oscar Wilde's Salome. Welcome to The Gravity Car.
In form and content, the band references Romantic poets like Byron or Shelley, David Bowie, the Velvet Underground and Sunday's own world view, which is heavily colored by his "waking dream" state. Years ago, Sunday trained himself to require very little sleep in order to encourage the blurring of reality and dreams and to be more susceptible to — or at least more sensitive to — any variety of stimuli.
The Gravity Car's songs aren't as cold as some of Bowie's work nor quite as lo-fi as The Velvet Underground's songs, but those performers' decadence — and promise of sex — certainly flavor the proceedings. The music is sensual and pleasantly hazy, just like being half asleep/half awake while driving down the Las Vegas strip at night. And Sunday's literary-minded lyrics snake through the middle like a Martian river.
The Gravity Car was formed earlier this year, and the "family tree" of the band is a little complicated. Sunday has been in several bands over the years, including Tears on Sunday, Ahankara and A Game of You.
Snyder and Wirsching were in the band Worth.
Shortly after A Game of You called it quits, Sunday asked Snyder and Wirsching to back him up for his solo shows. Then Sunday was asked to join Worth as a guitar player. Then Sunday, Snyder and Wirsching decided to split from Worth and form The Gravity Car as an actual band, not just as a backing group for solo Sunday. And the band feels as if they've finally arrived "home" with The Gravity Car.
"I've never wanted to be in a band like this," Wirsching says. "I come from a Pop background. But the band's become my most favorite thing ever."
"I've been in a lot of bands, and this one feels right," Sunday confirms. "I'm so excited about this band, I can hardly begin to tell you about it."
Given the band's passion, their live shows contain a great deal of frission between the band and their audience. "We try to make (our shows) the most intimate experience you'll have, as far as seeing a band goes," Snyder says. "At one show, Stephen started crying at the end our song 'Jack in the Box.' And we closed with it. Until (the crowd) knows that song word for word, we can't close with that song anymore."
"There was dead silence for, like, 10 seconds, and then there was a roar," Sunday adds.
"That's kind of what we were going for," Snyder continues, "and we got a lot of compliments on it. We made them feel like, 'Whoa.' I don't think they were ready for it."
"For me, what makes (performing) compelling, more worthwhile more than anything else, is intimacy," Sunday says. "There has to be that very personal connection. To see somebody in the audience join me in tears, to see somebody smile because I've smiled or sense angst or lust or hunger or passion, and then really respond to that ... the key ethic that I've always held in every project that I've been a part of is intimacy. You're not selling your music on music alone. If you're not doing something that moves people, then to me it has no personal intrinsic value. I like to walk that line between intimacy and flat out making somebody feel like they just read the most secret page of my diary that they shouldn't read."
The Gravity Car invites you to invade their privacy and share in their dreams. Sign on for the ride.
THE GRAVITY CAR will participate in the '80s tribute/AVOC benefit '80s Pop ... Rocks! at the Southgate House June 26. On July 30, they play Bar Humbug with The Defrost Star.