May 11 2017 02:53 AM

Charly Bliss guitarist talks influences, new album and comparisons to Weezer

Photo by Jacqueline Harriet

It’s easy to see why many critics can’t resist comparing Charly Bliss’ debut album, “Guppy,” to Weezer’s iconic self-titled debut, aka “The Blue Album.” Both albums set the anxiety of youth against melodic vocal hooks and fuzzed-out guitars. While Weezer offered a break from the angst-fueled grunge scene of the early ‘90s, “Guppy,” released last month, is a welcome contrast to über-serious indie rockers like Bon Iver and Father John Misty.

Formed in the early 2010s, the New York-based band — Eva Hendricks (vocals, guitar), Spencer Fox (vocals, guitar), Sam Hendricks (drums), and Dan Shure (bass) — has opened for Glass Animals and Tokyo Police Club, as well as fellow female-fronted rock bands Sleater-Kinney and Veruca Salt. Charly Bliss stops in Lansing Sunday for a headlining show at Mac’s Bar.

Spencer Fox took some time in between tour stops to chat with City Pulse about the band’s musical influences, the critical reception to “Guppy” and the origins of the band’s name.

Almost every review of “Guppy” compares it to “The Blue Album.” Do you think that’s a fair comparison?

It’s not necessarily a premeditated decision, but we are all huge Weezer fans, so that seeps into everything we do, whether or not it’s intentional. But I do think one thing that really stands out about records like “The Blue Album” is that it’s this perfect meeting of really loud rock instrumentals with keen and present pop sensibilities. That’s something that’s super important to the band, making sure to always have everything we do be at that intersection, and that’s a record we always turn to for inspiration on how to execute that. It’s totally a welcome comparison.

The album has gotten a lot of good buzz from outlets like Pitchfork, A.V. Club and Stereogum, to name a few. Have you been surprised by the reaction?

It’s been a very wild ride. We’ve been working on this record for three years. To even have it out and available, that people are listening to it, that alone is a surreal feeling. It still doesn’t feel like it’s really happening.

Then on top of that, to have these writers and publications saying such kind, thoughtful things about it — it feels like a weird fever dream or something. I can’t believe this is happening. It’s so gratifying.

Eva’s lyrics are very evocative but also very vague and it leaves a lot of room for the listener to fill in the gaps. Does she talk to the band about what her songs mean?

Not really; it doesn’t get hashed over. I guess because we’re all really close, whenever one of us hears the lyrics, it’s easy for us to decipher them and tell what’s at the heart of the song. But we don’t discuss it, necessarily.

How does the band’s songwriting process work?

The songwriting process is super-collaborative. Somebody will come to the band with an idea, whether it’s one little melodic idea or something that’s pretty much done, and we use that as a jumping off point. The four of us work things over, move things around, just toy with it until it feels like something the four of us would be proud to call our own. We’ve always worked that way.

The album is relatively short — it clocks in at just under 30 minutes. Was that a part of a strategy, to leave people wanting more?

Pretty early on, we knew that we wanted to do a 10-song record. That was something that was really important to us; we always like to keep things concise. One amazing quality for a record or a song is that you hear it and instantly want to play it again and then over and over again. That’s something we were going for.

You’re on tour right now supporting the new album. What do you do to entertain yourselves on the road?

The biggest light at the end of the tunnel for us after these long, arduous drives is definitely the food. Besides music, it feels like the band’s biggest driving force is food. We talk about it everyday. We’re constantly Yelp-ing restaurants near the venue. That is the band’s biggest pastime, the discussion and consumption of food.

How did the band get started?

The band has existed in many incarnations. It primarily started in 2011, the year that Eva and I graduated from high school. We were in a choir class, and I kept bugging her — I knew she was writing songs, but she wasn’t showing them to anybody, and I kept bugging her to let me write some guitar parts. Finally she did, and then it got to a point that Eva was going to college for recorded music, and she wanted to enter the program with a finished product. We didn’t want it to be just the two of us, so that’s when Sam and Kevin (Copeland), our original bass player, came on board. And then from there we started playing shows. And 2014 is when Dan joined the band. So we’ve been kicking around for a while.

How did you decide on the name Charly Bliss?

Charly Bliss is actually a close friend of Eva’s ex-boyfriend. Eva was at a party, and this was in the heat of us being like, “We need a band name.” Things were going great, and we were writing all these cool songs, but there’s only so much you can do as an unnamed band. We were driving ourselves absolutely insane — anyone who’s ever been in a band knows that one of the hardest things is the naming process — and we were at our wit’s end. So someone drunkenly suggested, “Why don’t you name the band after Charly?” We were just so worn down by the process that we said, “Great. Do it. We’re Charly Bliss now.”

Charly Bliss
With See Through Dresses, Half Tongue and Dirt Room
7 p.m. Sunday, May 14
Mac’s Bar
2700 E. Michigan Ave., Lansing
(517) 484-6795,