St. Louis bands The Feed and The Sun and the Sea couldn't be more different. The Feed jumps genres from song to song but retains a bluesy growl and ferocity no matter if they're playing punk, noisy psychedelic or straight-up pop-rock. The Sun and the Sea generally stays within its own polished indie-rock confines but adds plenty of twinkly riffs and heart-racing drum fills that stay with you long after the music ends.
But man, do the bands complement each other. And, uh, compliment, each other.
"I've always loved the Feed and have said they're the best band in St. Louis since I saw them for the first time," says Chris Rhein, vocalist for the Sun and the Sea. "Every musician in that band, man. It's just an all-star lineup."
"I was kind of blown away, not that they're not already awesome," says the Feed's pianist and vocalist Dave Grelle about the Sun and the Sea's new album, American Empire. "But when you hear the finished product, it's really cool."
It's a good thing the musicians enjoy each other's music so much; otherwise, playing their double release show and listening party this Saturday in Blueberry Hill's Duck Room might get a little awkward. There's no chance of that, though, as Rhein and Grelle have been working together for over a year for Tunespeak, an app that rewards bands' most influential fans with prizes and experiences. But their friendship goes back even before their time at the hot startup.
"We played a couple of shows together, I think at Off Broadway, and it was a pretty cool musical fit," Grelle tells RFT Music. "Our music [style] is definitely different, but it works. And they're just good dudes."
Grelle and the Feed are releasing Outsider, the band's first recording since a 2006 EP and a 2012 track on a Tower Groove Records compilation. Primarily a live band, Grelle and his bandmates felt the time was right to lay down tracks now that they've got a permanent four-piece lineup.
"As soon as we had written some brand new tunes, we just wanted to get in right away. In one weekend, we tracked it all," Grelle says. "We had so much music recorded previously that we hadn't released because it wasn't a current representation of who was in the band, because we were a trio, then a duo, and now we're a four-piece. So as soon as we had songs together, we thought 'Let's record this and get this out. Let's not sit on it, and let's not think about it. Let's just one-take, two-take the songs.'"
Rhein says the recording process for their debut album American Empire was very different for the Sun and the Sea.
"We put out two EPs in 2012, but for our first full-length album, we really took our time writing -- we were in the writing process for about a year and a half," Rhein explains. "We had already recorded all the guitars and keyboards ourselves, so we'd been working on that forever, but when we actually went into the studio in Crown Point, Indiana, in March, it took three or four weekends up there."
Working together at Tunespeak and being friends outside of the office, it was inevitable that Grelle and Rhein would hear each other's new albums throughout their final preparations. It wasn't much of a jump to put together a show to release both of them.
On page two, listen to new tracks from the Feed and the Sun and the Sea!
"I think we were just sitting around one day, and they were working on their record and we were working on our record, and we just thought, 'Hey, man, it would be kind of cool if we did a double album release,'" Grelle says.
"It was perfect timing. Dave brought up the idea, and it just clicked," Rhein adds. "Yeah, let's make this happen."
Saturday's event changes up the notion of what an album release is. Instead of the traditional schedule of opener, middle act and headliner, both the Sun and the Sea and the Feed will be headliners at the start of the show, with Tommy Halloran's Guerrilla Swing performing at the end of the night.
"Since there are a lot of friends and family coming in from out of town and we wanted to make it all about the release, we wanted to start it a little early where our bands play first," Grelle explains. "More than anything, we'll get to actually enjoy it instead of 'Get up there, play, [mimics singing], Thanks everyone, good night!' Now we can play our songs and hang out. The opener is actually the headliner."
Grelle is excited for the show, not just to perform the Feed's new songs, but also to gel with a band that has grown in membership.
"Playing as a four-piece for the first time in general, it just makes for more intense highs. It's more dramatic," Grelle says. "I used to just run my rows through a bunch of effect pedals all the time to try to get that distorted guitar sound, and now I'm doubling that with a guitarist, so it really fills out the sound. We've got keyboards, sax on some songs, bass and guitar, and it leaves a lot of room for harmonies, melodies and cool lines."
For Rhein, it's a chance for the Sun and the Sea to unquestionably mark St. Louis as its hometown. Rhein lives in the city, but his two bandmates reside in Springfield, Illinois, which makes gigging difficult.
"We've been taking it easy on playing shows while working on the record," Rhein says. "They can't be here all the time, so we really want to make this feel like our hometown after this release and play a lot more.
"There are just so many sounds going on, so we'll use some tracks to help us out behind it, and with this show, we've got some other musicians who are going to be joining us," Rhein continues. "It's difficult to put the songs from the recording to the live show with us being a trio, but bringing it all together has been a lot of fun. We're really excited to try it out."
Now that they've been recording new material, both the Feed and the Sun and the Sea have the songwriting bug.
"We're already writing for the next record. That's kind of the mode we're in," Grelle says. "We had been like, 'OK, we're just going to play live shows and people can have live recordings of our new songs.' But now we're in the mindset of 'Let's record as much music as possible and just get it out there.' At least one release a year is our new goal."
"This is the first full-length album I've ever put out, and I couldn't be more excited for the release," Rhein adds. "The process has been so gratifying -- finally having a finished product that we're proud of, all the work it's taken to get these twelve songs, all the scrapping. I've probably got more than twenty songs that we scrapped through to put this together. It's a great feeling."
Sneak a listen at new tunes from the Feed and the Sun and the Sea below:
The Feed and the Sun and the Sea perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, July 26, in the Duck Room at Blueberry Hill and will play songs from Outsider and American Empire in album order. Tommy Halloran's Guerrilla Swing will close out the evening. Tickets are $12.
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