Rob Garcia and Sarah Everton are musical duo Reading Rainbow from Philadelphia. Having emerged from a former band Forensic Teens, the pair have now been making music in the vein heavily influenced by 1960’s garage rock since 2008, and have delivered two studio albums to date: ‘Mystical Participation’ and ‘Prism Eyes’. Here, they talk to us about Godard, Jodorowsky and 90s DIY.
What is your process for your songwriting?
I don’t know if we have a particular process that we always follow. Songs for us begin as either a simple chord progression or a recording we made of one of us humming a new melody. When we find something that moves us a certain way its usually pretty natural and intuitive how the song will shape up. After we come up with the basic song structures and melodies, we then work on lyrics and harmonies. Then put it all together with the drums and other layers of instruments.
Philadelphia is renown for it’s rock, punk, hip hop and jazz scene. Do you find it an inspirational city to live in for your musical creativity?
Absolutely. Philly is a really great place to live for any type of artist. There is always something happening, but its not as overwhelming and in your face as New York can sometimes be. Where we live in Fishtown (the North-East), there are the best music venues in the city and also a large number of art galleries. Its definitely inspiring being surrounded by creative people and then also great to have enough personal space to focus and get shit done.
Since your beginnings as a band, how do you feel you have developed as musicians?
I think we’ve grown tremendously. When we first started, we wrote and recorded 8 songs, Sarah learned how to play the drums, and we played two shows all in the span of two weeks. For being only a two piece band, we had to learn how to achieve the sound we wanted and so thats why we use a lot of distortion and we both sing. Our first full length record was heavily focused on the aesthetic of huge blown out wall of sound. And when we were ready to record songs for our second album, we wanted to use more harmonies and also step up the quality of the recordings. We still didn’t lose any of our original sound. With time we learned how to do it better.
Did you try to convey a particular message with Prism Eyes?
Prism Eyes deals with a lot of issues we are currently facing. We are at the age when most people are starting to get tied down with serious jobs or are starting to have babies and we are beginning to question if that life is right for us. We have dreams and passions that we can’t just give up. If I get stuck in a job, I’m still gonna dream and I’ll put a veil over my reality just so that I can deal with it.
The ‘Always on my Mind’ video lends itself to French new wave cinema. Did any cinematic influences come into play when writing the tracks for Prism Eyes?
Probably subconsciously, but not directly. We love watching movies from the 60’s and 70’s with great cinemetography and amazing washed out colors. Movies from Godard and Jodorowsky are so focused on aesthetic and vibe that its hard not to be inspired.
The Weathervane Music/ WXPN ‘Shaking Through’ session you did last year gave an insight into the creative process of Reading Rainbow. Do you feel like the internet has changed the way bands market themselves like this for the better?
The internet has pretty much put everyone on the same level. For something like music, it is tremendously helpful because it allows people to share their music with everyone in the entire world. Its seems so bizzare to think about when we were young and how much harder it was to find out about new music. Shaking Through was an amazing experience and they fully understand how the internet can be used to help out independent musicians.
Rob- you also have your Sprained Ankles project. What kind of an outlet is this for you, and does it relate to the music that you make in Reading Rainbow?
Before we started Reading Rainbow, I was in between bands and Sprained Ankles was my outlet for about a year. I wrote a full length album’s worth of material and recorded it onto 4-track cassette. They are essentially demos, but it is straight up soul and I love it! Now things are moving full speed with Reading Rainbow, but its always great to go back and listen to those old recordings and fall in love again. Hopefully and some point I’d be able to re-record those songs.
What are your main sources of inspiration for your music?
Dreams and Love
Do you have a particular single vision for your band, or is there a particular icon with a music career that inspires you?
Ever since we started playing music we were always a firm believer in working hard and getting shit done. Why would we pay someone to record us when we could record ourselves?! Especially when we started out, it was extremely important not to have other peoples input so that we could find our own sound and develop our method for doing things. As far as inspiration, Sonic Youth are huge for sure. They pretty much define 90s DIY. As we’ve grown as a band we now fully realize the benefits of working in a real studio and having a booking agent!
Why did you decide on the name Reading Rainbow?
Before Reading Rainbow, we played in a 3 piece band where we both played keyboard and sang and we had another drummer. It was heaviliy influenced by the late 70s synth punk band The Screamers. We had a song called Reading Rainbow and had allways thought that it would be such an amazing band name. The idea of taking something out of its original conext and creating this entire other meaning for the name really appealed to us. If you think about it, Reading Rainbow is a really trippy band name. Plus when you add all the childhood nostalgia it really felt natural to us.