Seryn, a band from Denton, Texas, are known for their ethereal brand of folk and for their dynamic and relentless stage presence during live shows. Following the release of their first album, This Is Where We Are, the band moved to Nashville and experienced several changes in lineup and label resulting in a four-year wait for their newly released second album, Shadow Shows.
Seryn will be returning to Birmingham on Friday, April 10, for a show at WorkPlay. Weld spoke with guitarist Nathan Allen about the new album, making the move to Nashville and the band’s musical evolution.
Weld: I remember seeing you guys play in Birmingham a lot during 2011 and 2012. Is there any particular reason you chose it to start off your tour?
Nathan Allen: Man, we just love Birmingham. Start close to home.
Weld: That’s right. You guys are in Nashville now. What prompted the move from Texas?
NA: To be closer to Birmingham, in all honesty. And it’s closer to everywhere.
Weld: Your debut record came out in 2011. What took so long to get this new album out?
NA: We just had a lot of people leaving and coming into the band as a way of keeping the train rolling.
Weld: You guys enjoy using multiple instruments and switching them on stage. Your first record focused more on acoustic instrumentation, but Shadow Shows is more layered electronically. Would you talk about the evolution of the sound?
NA: I think it’s just a natural progression. When you start looking at bands, it’s pretty common over time for people to pick stuff up. Creation is not a linear process most of the time.
Weld: Were there any songs that kick-started the evolution process?
NA: I think “Ivory Black” was the first song we did. It was definitely different. Then we got to “Kaleidoscope,” and by that point we definitely realized we were doing something different.
Weld: When your first album came out everyone compared you to Sufjan Stevens because of the frequent banjo playing, and your new album has been compared to Bon Iver.
NA: Those are definitely people that we are flattered to be compared to, although we certainly don’t consider ourselves contemporaries with them. We don’t share stages or publications with them. That’s not who we’re aiming for. But we love Sufjan and Bon Iver. Those are bands we actually listen to.
I definitely prefer Bon Iver’s first record. When you get the context about it, you can really illuminate what’s going on.
Weld: What’s the meaning behind the title Shadow Shows?
NA: It’s about our ability to grasp illusion. Then, you realize that’s the dream that you’re waking up from. It’s realizing what the dreams are, whether it’s a myth or even just an attachment that no longer holds up and it becomes a shadow. Like when your dad makes shadow puppets on the wall and you know it’s not a duck.
Weld: Is it about how your perception changes as you get older?
NA: Absolutely. I think certain groups might call that the Cthulu-type mythos, “the horror of the black void.” I think people on the more optimistic side of things consider that grace or seeing the light. It’s a hot debate that’s been raging throughout human history. It just happened to be what we were singing about, not necessarily what we were thinking about.
I mention “seeing the light” and the Cthulu mythos solely as a reference point, not as inspiration.
Weld: What was it like becoming a band in the Denton, Texas, music scene?
NA: The thing about Denton is no one has any idea what the music industry is. It’s just a creative, free-for-all flurry of whatever anyone can think up that’s cool. No one’s trying to bid for the showcase slot for an advertising agency, and no one is worried about licensing. No one knows what a per diem even is.
And I’m not saying that they’re stupid. It’s just so absent from the scene, any kind of industry. I’m sure there’s more now, but when we came up, it was like:
“What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know. 100 kids in the room playing music and drinking beer.”
That was as great as it could get. You could just screw up for a year. When I say screw up, [I mean to] do something different that you think is cool. Things are so wide open in Denton, no one tells you and your band that you’re being too weird. It’s really good for creativity, maybe not so much for careers.
Weld: So was the move to Nashville for career purposes?
NA: It’s been so hard to tour out of Texas these last few years. It’s relatively easy to tour out of Nashville. It provides more access to the people.
Seryn will play Workplay with Songs of Water and Corey James Bost. Tickets are $12 and the show begins at 8 p.m. For more information, visit workplay.com.