Music News

Juliet Mission is a master of the sad and dark

In the early 1990s, Andre Lucero, Doug Seaman, Tony Morales and Elizabeth Rose formed the popular experimental-rock band Sympathy F. Seaman later went on to a brief stint in Worm Trouble, and Morales played in the Kalamath Brothers with Kevin Soll of 16 Horsepower. Lucero and Seaman also performed as the electronic act Loravision and brought what they learned about making that music to their current project, Juliet Mission.

In October 2006, the band played its first show in its warehouse practice space while still calling itself Memory Box. With a name change the following year, the trio's aesthetic crystallized into a soulfully introspective vibe reminiscent of Echo & the Bunnymen and a duskier, late-era the Sound. Though sonically cool-hued, the impression that Juliet Mission's music gives is one of quiet catharsis and a beautiful melancholy, suggesting brighter days ahead — a perfect reflection of Colorado's changeable weather. We spoke with the threesome about the Denver scene of old and its songcraft.

Westword: Has the local scene changed much since you first started doing music?

Tony Morales: To me, the biggest difference is that back when we first started playing, there were three or four bars, and the people that booked them had built-in crowds that would come, and the bands they booked were good. It wasn't about how many people you could bring; it was about how good you were.

Andre Lucero: I liked Denver back then, because it had kind of an edge. There was cool, old spooky stuff like that big bridge near Rock Island and the viaducts. And we wrote spooky, cool music.

TM: Friends of ours would come up from Phoenix and tell us the Denver sound was cold and cloudy because of the bands that came out — whereas now it's a lot different. No one's sad or dark anymore, and we're trying to bring that back.

There seems to be a bit of the urgent dreaminess of Comsat Angels, the Chameleons and the Sound in the overall feel of your music. What accounts for this quality in your songwriting?

Doug Seaman: A lot of the dreamier quality comes from Andre, and I'm a big fan of effects; I like what they do and how they make you feel. I think that makes it dreamier by the nature of it — the stereo spread and all of that. The synth patches we use are really rich. It's not a conscious decision.

AL: Both Doug and I started off doing a lot of programming. He's just as good a keyboard player. We're good at digging in and adding things.

TM: We like that contrast of layering a bunch of different textures with nothing out front all the time. Everything's kind of together.