Hailing from New York, Charly Bliss are the four-piece band making pop cool again. After denying their pop leanings for a while, they attempted to make their debut album, Guppy an indie-rock record before eventually realising their pop prowess and scrapping the entire thing to make an album that truly reflects themselves. What this has resulted in is a fantastic mid-00s-esc alt-pop record, full of energy and infectiously fun.
Fronted by one of the most unique voices around, Eva Hendricks, Spencer Fox, Sam Hendricks and Dan Shure are the pop band you’ll be more than happy to tell all your cool friends you like. With tracks like “DQ” that include lyrical treats such as “I laughed when your dog died, it’s cruel but it’s true”, their delightfully dark side flickers wickedly in contrast to Hendricks’ bubblegum pop sound, showing their incredible ability as a band both cute and cutting.
Currently wowing UK crowds with their first ever run of shows across the pond, we caught up with the quartet to further solidify their status as our new fave band.
How did you guys meet?
Eva: We all grew up together, more or less. Sam is my older brother and Dan and I have been best friends since we were about 11 or 12. Dan and Spencer went to summer camp together when they were little kids and then Dan introduced me to Spencer when we were 15.
When did you guys start making music together?
Eva: I was in high school with Spencer and basically I was in school doing musical theatre and Spencer came to me one day and he was like, “I bet you’ve secretly been writing songs that you’re not showing anyone. I want to write music with you.” And he was totally right! I never would have started writing music if it wasn’t for Spencer. He taught me so much about playing guitar. We would be on video chat together, I would sing the melody and over video chat he would figure out how to play it on guitar.
Wow, you guys must have a great WiFi connection.
Spencer: My modem is the reason for this band…
Eva: Yeah! Well then in my senior year of high school, at the very last second, I was applying to musical theatre schools but I realised I hate musical theatre! I’d just been doing it for so long I thought that’s what I should be doing in college. When I was actually up against the decision to do it I didn’t want to do it. I applied to this music engineering programme at NYU and I got in. And once I got in, everyone else in the programme had already put an album out. They were playing shows and everything and I was like “Fuck, I look like an idiot.” So just as a last minute thing the summer before we went to college we had to record the songs we have been writing. Sam, my older brother, happened to be home, and he is the best drummer I know, so I feel like I tricked him into it! Growing up, our parents wanted us to play music together so badly, which of course, makes it the last thing you want to do: if your parents want you to make music as like a brother and sister duo it’s immediately like the lamest thing you can ever do. He was going to do it for a one off thing and then we kind of just kept doing it.
Spencer: The more we kept making music together the more we realised we had a pretty solid connection as people. And as we started writing more as a group, we realised we had common interest just in the realm of songwriting. We all liked similar bands and wanted the same things from songs. It just became a very cohesive unit. It happened in this way where we just realised we were a band and not just four people performing together.
Did you have a vision of what you wanted your band to be like?
Eva: We’ve been a band for six or seven years and I think for the first five the biggest difficulty was just we couldn’t figure out what the common thread was for all of us in terms of what gets us excited and what is a good song. We tried recording our album, Guppy, once before. The first time we wanted to record it I think we all lived with it for a couple of months and I think going into recording it we kind of just went into the producer and were like “Yeah, whatever you think is the right thing for us! Do whatever you think is good.” And then listening to it back we were like “oh…”. Like so much of what we do that’s right about what we do is actually really poppy. I think we were always like, “we’re just an indie rock band” and then I think that listening back to our recording that we made, that was basically a purely indie-rock sounding recording, there was something missing which was the fun and poppyness, exuberance, what is best about what we do. So in a way messing up the first time actually lead us to figuring out what we do best.
Spencer: It was really empowering. I feel like after that point we stopped taking cues from other bands that we thought were doing something that we should be doing and more so being like, “what do we want our band to sound like?” Ever since then the band has felt like something which is very much our own.
“I felt like I was holding our band back by being a woman; I felt like what I was singing about was wrong… And then Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill came to speak at my school.”
Guppy is so good! What was the inspiration for it songwriting wise?
Eva: The record is a collection of songs that span about three years. I think in general, we’re inspired by the idea of having our music be something that you can turn on in your car and scream along to. As much as what we do is fun there is a lot of real substance as well. The lyrics don’t always match up with the sound of our music. In terms of writing, I feel like we will spend ages trying to figure out not to do just like the power chords.
Sam: Yeah, like, meticulous tinkering. There’ll be like two chords on the song that will be the result of a week of non stop practising.
Eva: Or just like “it’s not quite right, it’s not quite right!” I also think so much of it is just the product of the four of us having been writing together for so long; we’re very competitive people, like internally. We will not stop! Almost to a fault.
Spencer: Which sounds really counter productive but it helps us get to a lot of really cool places.
Sam: Yeah, I think being in New York we listen to so many bands which we think are just so amazing and we’re like “how can we be better than that?”
Eva: I even just mean internally. I think in a way we’re always trying to like, not one up each other in a bad sense, but do something that’s going to impress everyone else.
How does it feel to finally have the record out?
Spencer: It kind of feels like it didn’t actually happen
Eva: It feels fake! We worked on the album for so long and we recorded the album twice. It’s incredible and I can’t believe it’s real. We were saying, it still doesn’t feel that long ago that we would play a tiny venue in New York and be like “I wonder if anyone’s gonna come?” In a way I think that’s kind of good. There’s so many bands, and good for them to get to enjoy success right out the gate, but there’s a lot of great things that also come from waiting and having been doing this for a long time. Part of that I think is not being intimidated by every band that’s around you and appreciating when there’s another band around that you really respect and really like and knowing that there’s kind of room for everyone. That’s the beautiful thing about music and for me personally when I decided that I didn’t want to do musical theatre part of it was because I hated that whenever you were in a play or a show there was usually only one part for a girl and every girl in the company was ready to kill each other over that part and there could only be a couple of people successful at once. The great thing about music is like it’s completely the opposite of that, there’s space for everybody. And especially being a woman, the more you’re succeeding the more you’re pushing to lift other people up.
Yeah, there’s so many great bands around at the moment which are fronted by women. How does it feel to count yours among them?
Eva: I think it’s great. When we first started I felt like there were no other bands in New York. I feel like every show we played it was just dudes in leather jackets looking sulky. I felt like I was holding our band back by being a woman; I felt like what I was singing about was wrong, my voice was wrong, and everyone in every article was like “her voice sounds so feminine!”. It does, but I think at first I really wanted to mask that and blend in. And then actually Kathleen Hanna from Bikini Kill came to speak at my school and I’d never heard of her before I listened to Bikini Kill’s music and I just remember listening to her and being like “I’ve been getting it all wrong, I’m totally right for this!” That’s exactly what makes us different and it’s the best thing. I’m so thrilled that there’s so many bands with women in them and honestly I’m bored of boys singing about love. I don’t need to hear any more, I’ve heard a lot of it! I think it’s great and I love where music is heading right now. I think it’s wonderful.
And finally, how is it working together and being so close as friends? Do you ever get pissed off at each other?
Sam: We get along really well. It’s funny, a lot of bands we talk to they get back from tour and they’re like “oh yeah, I haven’t seen those guys in weeks.” We get back from tour and we’re like “what do you wanna do tomorrow?” Obviously everyone’s going to get on your nerves from time to time because of the amount of time we spend together.
Eva: But I would say the benefit of having us all know each other so well, like Sam’s my actual brother and Spencer and Dan feel like my brothers as well, in a way it’s like a great relief in knowing no matter how much you get on each other’s nerves there’s no possible future in which Spencer and Dan aren’t a part of our lives.