Local rock outfit Sybris’ self-titled Flameshovel debut, from 2005, raised many an eyebrow for both its musical complexity—heavily reverbed guitar and open-space arrangements hadn’t so sounded this good in a while—and singer Angela Mullenhour’s wicked, piercing vocals. (“The Best Day in History Ever,” the song that got everyone’s attention, was one of the top local cuts of that year.) After a long break that involved some touring and a patient writing period, the band’s back with “Into the Trees,” a more riotous affair this time around that, according to bassist Shawn Podgurski, was the band’s intention.
“Playing out live, it’s a lot more fun to play aggressive songs then mellow songs,” he says. “We all love slow and mellow songs, but standing up on stage, it’s way more fun to jump around and bang your head.”
Time has helped Mullenhour feel more comfortable as the frontwoman. “I feel a lot better,” she says. “I went through an awkward time, like, ‘Why am I doing this?’ You really feel self-conscious. ‘I play in a rock band, come see my rock band,’ it just seems silly. I’ve gotten over that for sure. It’s its own thing, I feel good about it.”
She says the record’s themes spawn from her upbringing. “Thematically, I was singing a lot about saints… I was raised Catholic—but it wasn’t like, ‘beat-me’ Catholic. I have an affinity for saints and stuff, I was looking them all up, seeing what they were all about, all of their stories.”
Mullenhour says the songwriting process for Sybris involves every member, that there’s no primary songwriter, and no one who gets the final say on a piece of work. “We all get attached to certain ideas we have, but for a song to be a song, we all have to be into it, or it just fucking dies,” she says. “It’s really bad. People aren’t playing it pumped. It just sucks.”
She also enjoys the grueling nature of touring. “I love it, it’s the best,” she says. “All my anxiety goes away. There’s just something about it—I have one thing to do today. I might have an eleven-hour drive to go do it, but, oh well, it’s cool, I’m on my way to do something I’m supposed to do today.” (Tom Lynch)
Sybris plays May 9 at Subterranean, 2011 West North, (773)278-6600, at 9:30pm. $10.