Andy Deane & Gopal Metro founded the goth/industrial/punk mainstay Bella Morte in the mid-90’s. Gopal left the band in 2007 but he & Andy have decided that they missed writing & playing music together, so last year they started a side project called Brighter Fires. Some have likened Brighter Fires’ sound to the Bella Morte of old, which makes sense because when Andy & Gopal write together it does seem to result in a pretty distinctive style. However, they’ve also been exposed to a wider range of influences in the past 15 years, and for that matter, Andy’s voice has matured and has a wider range now too. Please note that I did not say that Andy had matured, just his voice 😉
My second job has been winding down since the middle of May, so I’ve been enjoying some relative freedom in my schedule. This allowed me to catch Brighter Fires three weekends in a row, at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar in Charlottesville (as mentioned in the Synthetic Division post & pictured below), at the Canal Club in Richmond, and at the Jewish Mother Backstage in Norfolk. For once, it’s nice to be appreciating a band that is currently active and located in the same country as I am! They also get huge bonus points for being friendly, passionate, talented guys! (By the way, if you use instagram, you should follow Rippingitdown for nearly live photos which I never remember to transfer to my computer so I can post here)
Although they appeal to goth clubs and refer to their music as “dark rock”, listen to closely to songs like “Glorious” and “Sever” and you’ll understand why their debut album is an “anthem about enjoying life and… stuff”.
Synthetic Division is the synth pop project of Shawn Decker and Josh d’Elia. Shawn was born with hemophilia and diagnosed with HIV in middle school, and after years of denial, he is an AIDS and sex ed spokesman and advocate. Courtesy of the Make a Wish Foundation, in high school he met Depeche Mode, who he credits with making a huge impact on his life. All of this influences Synthetic Division’s sound and lyrics.
On July 5th I drove up to Charlottesville for the Synthetic Division Numb to the Numbers album release party. The relatively new venue, the Black Market Moto Saloon, was a very interesting space (but was shortly after blocked from hosting live music events due to zoning restrictions). Show openers Lauren Hoffman and Tony Lechmanski played a surprisingly mellow and melodic country set, and DC’s Lenorable picked things up a bit. You can check out my photos from the night on flickr.
Shawn & Josh did a great job, but unfortunately I didn’t have a chance to let them know as I had to speed home to take a friend to the airport early the next morning. Fortunately, the next time I went up to Charlottesville, a solo Synthetic Division performance from Shawn ended up being a last minute opener for Brighter Fires at the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar (they had to change venues after the Black Market was cut off, and their original openers hERETICS iN tHE lAB drove all the way up from VA Beach only to discover that their instruments were too numerous for the new venue’s small stage – they had “too much rock”, trufax). It was lovely to meet Shawn and Gwenn , who were so friendly!
You can check out a lot of tracks from Synthetic Division on bandcamp. While it’s not the most lyrically sophisticated of his songs, this track always make me laugh (and is ridiculously catchy & geeky to boot):
I also have to throw in a recommendation for Shawn’s autobiography, My Pet Virus: The True Story of a Rebel Without a Cure . At the album release he described it as “the funniest book about AIDS that you’ll ever read”, and I can’t say I’ve read a funnier one. I started reading it while walking around the block. I was only planning on doing 3 laps (about 1 mile), but I definitely went at least 9 because I couldn’t put the book down!