It’s like they say: two bands are better than one.
Take very like-minded but stylistically different local bands Bermudas and How To Live Together, who will both release their respective debut full-length albums during a special dual release show at The Pyramid Scheme on Feb. 2.
“We sound really different,” How To Live Together’s Steffanie Rosalez told Revue. “We’re definitely different genres, but I think we have a similar approach to music and a similar approach to gathering people in spaces. We have a lot of the same things that are important to us, so even though our music is really different, we still support our community in a similar way.”
That community support is actually what lead Rosalez to come up with the idea of sharing the release show. For the past six years, she’s worked as a volunteer for the nonprofit Girls Rock! Grand Rapids, alongside Bermudas bassist Charity Lytle, empowering girls to play music. So when the opportunity came up that both bands would have their first LPs available at the same time, the shared show just made perfect sense.
“I was excited about the idea, because we had done (a dual release) with (GR garage trio) Flushed for our last EP and we were excited about the turnout,” Lytle said of Bermudas’ last release show for its 2016 EP Sour.
A garage trio that takes influence from ’90s alternative and punk, Bermudas has played a part in Grand Rapids’ music scene since 2010. Made up of Lytle, vocalist/guitarist Dennielle Russ and drummer Chris Kleinman, the band has described its music as scrappy and eclectic.
“We’ve always had a variety in the type of sound that we have on our records,” Russ said. “So there’s just a really broad range on this album.”
Entitled Bloom, Bermudas’ LP will feature 13 songs and half a dozen guest artists, with local musicians Ryan K. Wilson, Kertis Lytle, Madeline Smith, Sam Kenny, Juston Espinoza, and Matt Ten Clay joining the band for various songs on the album.
“We went to the studio with the bones of the songs and some hope for people to then collaborate with, and it worked out well,” Lytle said. “I think with the release of our last EP, we had some guests join us at the show that weren’t part of the recording and I think that was exciting for us to hear what other musicians could come up with and how that would change the vibe of the song.”
In all, Bloom shows the band’s continual growth over the years as individuals and a band.
“As a lot of the content lyrically is very self-reflective,” Russ said. “Everything just kind of weaves together on a lot of different layers and themes of growth, and Bloom is a good word for that.”
Also growing into its own with the release show, How To Live Together has turned to synthesizers to elicit deep emotional truths in its music.
Made up of vocalists/multi-instrumentalists Rosalez and Jesse Kaczmarczyk, the duo is a couple that does in fact live together and shares an obsession with synthesizers. Merging Moogs and Nintendo blips into an indie synth-pop sound, the pair has developed from a personal home project into a band with its sights set on touring outside of the city.
“It kind of started with us being synth nerds and wanting to show off all our synths,” Kaczmarczyk said of the band’s beginnings back in 2014. “I was a guitar player and she got me hooked on playing synthesizers, and through that we just started playing music together, and then started writing songs and then became a band.”
Increasingly growing their collection into a formidable arsenal that includes everything from toy-size Casio keyboards to Roland TR-8 drum machines and Pioneer DJ samplers, the duo has evolved its sound so that when it plays live, it has almost a continuous mix.
“Our album is actually one really long piece of music that’s just broken up into songs using Jesse’s modular sounds and an ongoing beat that shifts more like DJ style, to create one long-crafted piece of music that has pop structures,” Rosalez said.
Also 13 songs long, How To Live Together’s debut has a similarly powerful one word title – Resister.
“It has a dual meaning,” Rosalez said. “Resister with an ‘e’ is one who resists, and I would definitely say that’s a political nod. But a resistor is also an electronic component in synthesizers. It’s this internal piece that has to be there in order for the instruments to work. So there’s acknowledging that there’s this internal thing that has to happen, and also this external thing that has to happen.”
Taking its band name from the title of a philosophy book, the band’s music has helped both of them process their relationship with each other and the changing world around them Rosalez added.
“It feels like we’re sharing something deeply personal with the world,” she said about the album’s release. “And there’s this kind of feeling about vulnerability (that) feels really powerful at the same time.”
Sharing the strong support system of the local music scene, both bands encourage others to create and engage with West Michigan’s growing music community.
“We talk about this a lot as a band, but we have a really friendly scene, where everyone is really supportive,” Lytle said. “Part of it is West Michigan nice, but everybody appears to be having a good time supporting each other and sharing in each other’s music. We just love including all sorts of people in our music, so we’d love to expand what we’re doing into other venues and playing with different types of people we’ve never played with. There’s so much opportunity in West Michigan.”
Bermudas & How To Live Together
The Pyramid Scheme
68 Commerce Ave. SW,
Feb. 2, 9:30 p.m., $8