MEET THE BAND: Raye Hart (vocals, bass), Joe Wheelock (guitar), Jimmy Thain (guitar), Eric M. C. Gonzalez (cello, keyboards, synthesizers) and Matt Nelson (drums, percussion)
A LOTTERY LEAGUE THING: Forager was formed during the 2016 Cleveland Lottery League, an event that randomly pairs local musicians with one another to form new bands. "We had a meeting as a band before playing together because we didn't know each other at all," says Hart of the band's initial meeting. "We decided to just meet up and hang out first to get to know each other. We discussed what we'd like to do, and we all agreed from the beginning that we wanted to record and release something. The first few rehearsals we jammed a little and brought a few song ideas we'd been sitting on." Thain says the band had three practices per week to prepare for the Lottery League's Big Show.
A BIT OF EVERYTHING: The band draws from surf, rock and twee pop on its new EP, Deadbeat Suite. "That probably has as much to do with our short attention spans as it does our influences," says Hart when asked about the disc's diversity. "We all listen to different music and come from various backgrounds as musicians, and we all play multiple instruments. I feel like over the past year we've begun to have a more cohesive sound as a band, even as we're blending and borrowing from different styles of music. People love to compartmentalize and label bands, and we've heard some pretty bizarre comparisons so far. I'm okay with it. I'd rather be weird than boring." Nelson says the band members' backgrounds have led to Forager's melting pop approach. "I think we've started to find a place where we are finessing our sound that channels all of our experiences without drifting from our identity," he says.
WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Deadbeat Suite includes a handful of songs that fit together thematically. The group recorded the album last year with local music producer Brian Straw at his Survival Kit space in the 78th Street Studios on Cleveland's west side. "It was a very warm experience — one of the hottest weekends we'd had all summer," says Hart. "But it was also really fun. I remember Brian had an art show up with work by Katy Kosman, and I spent a lot of time between takes looking at all of her awesome drawings. The space has a really great creative energy." The jangle-y B-52s-meets-Sleater-Kinney tune "Fallout" chronicles the demise of a relationship. "I think a lot of people, women especially, grow up with this overhanging guilt we are forced to overcome when we don't 'settle down' and find a husband, pop out a couple of kids. We're generations deep in equating our self-worth with our success in relationships, which is bullshit," says Hart when asked about the tune. "It's a lot of damage to undo." The band hopes to follow up the EP with a 7-inch release.
WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: foragermusic.com
WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Forager performs with Sweepyheads and Mild Animals at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Happy Dog.