Interview

Shawn Braley
David Byrne once said, “I'm afraid that everything will get homogenized and be the same.” This, coming from the Talking Heads songwriter? Byrne is the epitome of creativity in action. Yet, his fears may be right. As we head into a more digital age of releasing music, major labels may take advantage of this and place the money they’re saving in CD making to push with marketing and advertising of artists such as Britney Spears or Miley Cyrus. All the while, the independent market, who is currently engaging in the digital culture continues to remain unknown. Cincinnati’s Pomegranates seem to be taking the place of David Byrne’s former band, while adding a few minor tweaks.

Pomegranates have a sound that seems to transcend decades. They channel the doo-wop of the 50s, the experimentation of the 60s, the dance of the 70s disco, the off-beatness of the 80s and the low-fi attitude of the 90s; all while keeping intact an “indie” sound of today. The band consists of 4 members; Joey Cook and Isaac Karns take up the dueling vocals, one with a high pitch squeal and the other with a baritone yell. They play off each other wonderfully and with precision. Dan Lyon is the bands newest member, and he is all smiles while looking gawky, gangly and a little awkward. He doesn’t miss a step with his instrumentation though. Drumming for Pomegranates is Jacob Merritt, who I spoke with at Southgate House just before the band’s vinyl release of their first album, Everything Is Alive!

Backstage, Jacob is kind, soft spoken and polite. He acts like his band is the opening band and he’s simply talking to a friend who is asking questions. He’s also the most stylish, handsome and prepared of the bunch. While the other guys look as if they just came in from the A/V club, Merritt looks like he should be on the cover of GQ.

Pomegranates refer to themselves as Art-Pop, a term they thought they coined, but have also heard it in relation to bands like Talking Heads and Grizzly Bear. And while the self appointing of yourself as art-pop might come off as a bit pretentious Merritt doesn’t think so exactly; “We just didn’t want to be a part of the stereotype of indie-pop. You immediately think of bands like Modest Mouse or Death Cab For Cutie, and we don’t really identify with those bands necessarily. We like them, but we just don’t identify with them. We want to be timeless. I think art-pop is like music that would make sense in an art museum. That’s what we hope to make. In ten years, people, hopefully, will still listen to us,” to which Merritt added, “musicians should feel comfortable with calling themselves artists. If you’re a musician and you’re creating music then it’s the truth. I mean, Lady Gaga is considered an artist. Everyone that makes music is considered a recording artist. I think saying art-pop, to me, means we’re striving to make something artistic with some merit.”

But should a musician strive to make art, or simply make the art and let it be what it is? Opinions can be held on the subject, but one cannot deny that what Pomegranates create is art. They make songs that jump out and are unique in more ways than one. The crowd at their vinyl release show is excited and energetic, dancing and singing along, all the while the band seems to be having the time of their lives, smiling at the audience and talking to them between songs, before and after the show.

If there is anything that stands out about Pomegranates other than the originality of their music, it is the sincerity of their lyrics falls into the listener’s lap, begging for a second glance. What one finds is rich subtext that seems to follow suit as Old Testament stories of parting seas and trusting Jesus seem to be hidden. “We all love Jesus. I don’t know if religion would be the word. We’re influenced by what Jesus wants in our lives, and we really value what the Bible has to say. I think that would be the best way of putting it. That definitely ties into our music. Everyone’s life is influenced by what is important to them. Our faith is important to us, so of course, it’s going to show up in our music. I think T-Bone Burnett said, ‘Some people write about the light, some people write about what they see because of the light.’ I think we’re a band that writes about what we see because of the light. If light is a metaphor for God or spirituality.”

I have seen the light, and it is Pomegranate’s future. All I can say is, I can’t see it ending anytime soon.