The moody joy of L.A. darkwave group Glaare comes from the fun and frenzied cocktail of ingredients that inform its sound: the electronic-music background of guitarist Cameron Carlin, the pop origins of vocalist Rachael Pierce, and the metal- and punk-infused music of drummer Brandon Pierce.
Put together, they result in a deliciously sensual, dark emotional take on post-punk. There are elements of nostalgic electro- and synth-pop in there, shades of Joy Division and Depeche Mode. But it’s also contemporary.
The band formed in 2012, when Brandon and Rachael were dating. The pair met self-professed “bedroom-project maker” Carlin, and the rest is history.
“We all come from very different places but meet in the middle somewhere, in a new-wave, black-metal place,” Carlin says. “That’s what we all have in common, but it’s now what we sound like. Our influences are pretty broad. Most of my stuff comes from ambient music, electronic music, techno and things like that. But between the three of us, there’s definitely an appreciation for darker things. We all listen to Slowdive, the Cure and the Chameleons, which I think is pretty obvious.”
Brandon and Rachael were married about nine months after the band started, and Glaare has mostly been a three-piece project (there were other members early on, and bass/synth player Rex Elle recently joined for live duties). Carlin says that it hasn’t been awkward to play with the couple.
“Sometimes, they’re a little too cute for my liking,” he jokes. “But, no, I don’t ever feel like a third wheel or left out.”
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The band is based in Los Angeles, which gets mixed reviews for its music scenes. On the one hand, it’s a big city, and just about every kind of music you could desire is there somewhere. On the other, in some quarters it’s seen as tired, and even many L.A.-based groups must go on tour to make the big bucks.
“All three of us grew up here,” Carlin says. “Rachael is from a little further out, but Brandon and I grew up in Los Angeles proper, and I think with that comes a love-hate relationship with the city. We’re both in our thirties, so it’s a long time to spend here. I don’t dislike living here, and I don’t have any qualms about the music scene, especially our own. I think it’s a bit small, but I think most good things are. They can be, and tend to be, a little insular and guarded. I feel like there are other scenes and other sounds that people gravitate toward in this city that strike me as being really overdone. Things in the metal community, things in the garage-rock community — I can’t tell all of these bands apart. I feel fortunate that in the post-punk, darkwave world, there aren’t that many people that sound like that. I think Los Angeles as a whole is a hotbed for a lot of stuff right now. I’m stoked we’re a part of it.”
Glaare just dropped its debut full-length, To Deaf and Day, which follows assorted EPs and mixtapes. The complete body of work points to an impressive evolution that has seen the core trio strip down instrumentation without sacrificing a full-bodied sound.
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“Friends and people that [saw] us a couple of years ago would probably not recognize us now,” Carlin says. “Other than Rachael’s voice — and even then, we’ve all toned down and pulled back a lot. We’ve also lost two members, which left more of the non-vocal creative control up to Brandon and me. Before, I don’t think we were clear on what we wanted to do. As the years went by and it became just the three of us, it became very clear — which is a much more refined, sleek, stripped-down, still very lush and big, maybe heavy, sound. Where we’re at now is the sum of the vision the three of us have together.”
This week, Glaare will perform its first-ever Denver show, at Mutiny Information Cafe, and Carlin says the band expects to perform all of the new record. In addition, he’s been working on some visual treats.
“I spent the last few days setting up our lighting rig, which is something we’ve been meaning to do for a long time, and so there’s a very strong visual component with this tour,” Carlin says. “Not necessarily like projections or anything like that, but we have a lot of lights programmed to sync with what we’re playing, and it should look pretty cool. I’ve just seen it from our end, which is in the rehearsal space, but I think it’ll bring a dynamic to it that we haven’t had. We’ve played in the dark a lot with very minimal lighting, and I think this will be a bit more jarring and maybe scary-looking.”
7 p.m. Thursday, January 25, Mutiny Information Cafe, 2 South Broadway.