By Adam Lovinus
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By Mike Seeley
A Colorful Sunrise
The youthful exuberance of Cinematic Sunrise doesn’t end with their coloring-book EP (complete with colored pencils!)
It’s easy enough to appreciate Cinematic Sunrise on the band’s own merits, especially their yen for bright-eyed anthems straddling punk drive and pop sheen. Yet it’s inevitable that many fans compare the Detroit six-piece to Chiodos, the popular post-hardcore act from which Cinematic Sunrise were born. Featuring recently departed Chiodos singer Craig Owens as well as still-in-Chiodos keyboardist Bradley Bell, Cinematic Sunrise might have to prove themselves for some time to come, especially since their music is so much lighter than that of their gritty predecessors.
“It’s the complete opposite of Chiodos,” says Bryan Beeler, Cinematic Sunrise’s founding guitarist. “That’s what made it work. It wasn’t like someone’s ideas from one band could be taken and used in the other band. They’re more hardcore/screamo. I like to think we’re like Hannah Montana or the Jonas Brothers with a little more rock or balls. Less kidlike, but still happy and polished and fun.”
Clearly unashamed of Cinematic Sunrise’s pop bent, Beeler says the band formed from the aforementioned members of Chiodos “and just a whole bunch of friends” around Detroit. Those include bassist Marcus VanKirk and drummer Dave Shapiro. Second guitarist Nick Martin is a more recent addition, joining since the band’s debut EP, the five-song A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record, last year. His joining saw the lineup swell to a six-piece, splitting up the guitar duties, bolstering the overall sound and adding another head to the brainstorming sessions.
“I play all the guitar tracks on the record,” Beeler explains. “But as we went on and started doing more writing, I thought it’d be a lot cooler to have more ideas come into it. That, to me, is the biggest part. When people are throwing out ideas, you get a lot more done and write better stuff. It’s been pretty awesome having another guitar player.” With a laugh, he adds, “There’s not as much pressure on me. I can always blame the other guy.”
The band’s only release, A Coloring Storybook and Long Playing Record is steeped in wistful romance and fleeting youth. Owens’ clean, melodic vocals ride high, while hooky instrumentation bobs and weaves beneath, and there’s a knowing air of accessibility to every song. The EP isn’t some snobby niche affair, but rather an offering to the world at large with open arms. True to its title, the original run of 10,000 copies even came with colored pencils so listeners could fill in the titular storybook’s art. The outlines were provided by acclaimed music-merchandise artist Rob Dobi, whose clients have included Pearl Jam, Michael Jackson and Green Day. It was an idea Beeler had in a college course while pondering creative ways to sell a product.
“I pitched it to the band, and they thought it was just the coolest idea they had ever heard,” he says, beaming. He admits, though, that it took three years for Cinematic Sunrise to come out with that debut EP and that a follow-up album is still somewhat distant. It’s written, he says, but there’s still the matter of getting everyone together to record it. “I have no clue [when],” he concedes. “It keeps changing.”
The band’s trip from frosty Michigan to the welcoming West Coast climate isn’t so much a warm-up for the album, then, as a quick vacation in a place where the band have always been well-received. “Every time we play down there,” confirms Beeler, “the kids are absolutely amazing. We’re doing it just for fun.” It should also be a break from the Detroit scene, where Chiodos have been influential enough to spawn many like-minded young acts. Ditto Cinematic Sunrise, different though the two might be. All the while, Beeler operates a recording studio and plays in a band called Who Needs Fashion, whereas Owens is exploring a solo career and Martin plays with Underminded.
Without a worry in the world, Cinematic Sunrise are all about having fun and being silly in a scene that often takes itself far too seriously. “The way I think about it,” Beeler says, “the music I play in this band is what I thought was cool when I was 12 years old. I like to think I’ve kept it real and didn’t change [since then]. I understand if you’re a tough guy, it’s maybe embarrassing to wear my band’s T-shirt or admit you have the CD. But it’s fun music. Everyone likes pop songs, and everyone likes singing along.”