New Orleans has always been a hub for creativity, casting and creating artists of all stripes for centuries. Painters, photographers, tap dancers, playwrights, chefs, and avant-garde puppeteers abound. We’re a happening place, and, so says up-and-coming rock band Sentry, a hospitable one.
“Audiences here give a shit,” says Jeremy Marx, who plays guitar and first introduced his bandmates to the possibility of moving their Boston based outfit to New Orleans. “They give you a chance to perform, they’re going to come out and have drinks, they want to have a good time.”
Marx, a Mandeville native, and his bandmates Oliver Watkinson (bass) and Moses Eder (drums) met through the New England Conservatory of Music, where all studied jazz. Always the sidemen in various ensembles, the three began collaborating with the goal of pushing their own interests in heavier grooves to the forefront of their music. Drawing early inspiration from hardcore Massachusetts band Converge, Sentry also lists ’90s grunge stalwarts Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Rage Against the Machine as influences. The band, however, is also driven by their roots and extensive education in improvisation.
“We were sick of the edge getting edited out,” Marx says, referring to the practice of softening music to meet audience expectations. So, Sentry composes through tight collaboration with each member sharing responsibility in writing and editing music. Since anyone has the right to veto any aspect of the song, Marx notes, “[Eder and Watkinson] have more power over my tunes than I do, and I’m ok with that. We are our own audience, but we also want to write music that people will enjoy.” It’s a tightrope the band is happy walking, with songs that hit hard, challenge, but also give a lot back in shape and dexterity. While Boston and New York City proved difficult scenes to “break into,” (owing largely to high living costs that ultimately detract from rehearsal time) Sentry has decided to forge ahead in New Orleans.
It’s no wonder the band wants to move here. In the metropolitan area there are over 80 clubs and bars that offer live music every night, with more venues on the way thanks to the relaxed regulations regarding live un-amplified music in restaurants, as proposed through the revised Comprehensive Zoning Ordinance. Apart from club owners and concert-goers, our musicians also care about musicians. Thanks to plans enacted by Harry Connick, Jr. and Branford Marsalis the Musicians’ Village was constructed on an eight-acre parcel of land in the Upper Ninth Ward and provides 72 homes for displaced and underserved musical artists and their families. And, just last month, Trombone Shorty replaced the stolen horn of a 14 year old aspiring player. While there’s always more we can do to support our cultural providers, it’s clear New Orleans wants its musicians at home and working.
With that, Sentry has just released an EP on Bandcamp with more tracks to come this fall as the band completes its move to the Crescent City. “Bridge in Colors” shows the band standing at full height, sounding far larger than its three instrument lineup might suggest. Ever-building drums and bass support a sweeping guitar and vocals provided by Marx and guest singer Sami Stevens. It moves between noise and melody with steady tension, sounding at times like The Bends and at others like the daring leaps of a Christian Scott record. There’s a lot here already, and I’m eager to see what’s next.
Check out the track and let me know what you think in the comments.
Got a record on the way? a single in the mix? or house show coming up? Drop me a line.