The Gromble certainly know how to keep fans in suspense. Seven years after their formation in 2009, the band have finally yielded a proper debut album. The upbeat songs on Jayus (out on Feb. 12) reflect an aural atmosphere that’s characteristic of modern indie groups, but to lump the band in with their contemporaries would be a crime, to say the least. So what can we say about the Laguna Niguel natives and their brand of indie pop that can’t be said about acts like Chvrches or Group Love? A surprising amount, actually.
The term ‘Jayus’ is an Indonesian word meaning, “a joke so unfunny you can’t help but laugh,” which according to lead singer/guitarist, Spencer Askin is perfectly apt for the record in reference to the setbacks, both personal and professional, they encountered finishing this album. “It reads mostly like a collection of personal anecdotes,” Askin says. “Most of the lyrics are pretty personal. I don’t know how to write any other way. ‘Jane’ and ‘Danny King’ are both real people from my life.” Without getting too in depth, the song he refers to called “Danny King”’ is about watching somebody destroy themselves and not be able to help.
Upon first listen, the immediately accessible aspects are the extremely catchy vocal melodies, floating above the warm synth pads and bright string tones, which paint a sonic landscape in a vibrant auditory technicolor. With each new listen a different, previously hidden layer becomes discernible, making a large part of the charm in listening to this album come from unwrapping each song as you tune in more and more intently. The record is, by design, formulaic for repeat listens without exhausting the flavor of the music.
Drummer Stefan Macarewich recalls of the arduous production; “There were are a lot of choices we had made live that weren’t going to work on CD. We were trying to make recordings that could stand up against anything in the top 40 world, but also sounded like us.” When he says the band has 30 versions of each song with different variations of arrangements and instrumentation, he doesn’t sound like he’s kidding. “It was a giant learning process recording it ourselves,” Macarewich says. “I remember at one point asking around and watching YouTube tutorials on how to properly mic a string section and which mics to use. It was all part of the process.”
The mood of the songs seems to swirl an amalgam of dreamy melancholy and lighthearted optimism, between the pensive attitude on ballads like, “Don’t Stand a Chance” and “You Don’t Know”, juxtaposed with the cheerful choruses of “Real Sympathy,” “Slam,” and “Desole Pt.II” to name a few.
The Gromble owe a large part of their success to their harmonious designated tasks in the band. “Most of the songwriting starts with me,” Askin says. “Usually a chord progression and melody. Then our keyboardist Spencer Wiles revamps the chord changes and usually adds an arrangement for strings or horns.” From there, Macarewich does most of the production aspect, in terms of the sounds they choose, and our bassist Trevin Eck has an objective way of listening so he knows when things are going to work and how they’ll convey to an audience.
As far as outside band duties go, The Gromble is a well-oiled machine. Spencer handles booking and management, Stefan does both live and studio production, and Wiles does the art and graphic design. This symbiosis has been translated in both their music, and working relationships. They’ve even opened their own studio in Laguna Niguel, which they call, “North Dwarf Recordings”, and are starting to produce local bands.
What the band looks forward to the most, however, is reaching a new audience with the songs they’ve had hidden away for the past 4 years. Palates will be universally receptive to the tracks-whether or not you are partial towards indie music, everyone will find something to love in this album, and they won’t have to look very hard.
For a chance to be the first person on your block to take home your copy of Jayus, The Gromble will be playing an all ages show the day of the album release at The Constellation Room on February 12th. Doors open at 8pm and cover is $10. For tickets, click here. Be there, or be a shape of some sort.