Rising from the ashes of the band FiveAcrossTheEyes in 2008, Holyoke rock group The Stereo State didn’t start out under the best of circumstances.
While core members Gabe Griffin (lead guitar, vocals), Brandon Spence (drums) and Matthew Spence (rhythm guitar) wished to continue playing together after the demise of their former band, the three also realized they needed music to assist them in getting through what they refer to as a rough period in their lives.
“FiveAcrossTheEyes ran into some serious, life-changing problems in early 2008,” says Griffin. “It was a big mess, but the three of us needed to keep playing together. A clean slate was necessary so we started this band with a new moniker. We were really a mess around that time, and we needed each other and our music to get through it. I think you can hear it on our early recordings.”
Where earlier times had seen the group focusing on speedy licks and highly technical parts, The Stereo State’s sound has since evolved to include more structure and melody. Tracks like “Ahhgust” and “As Honest As I Can Be” from the 2011 release Have All My Friends Gone Deaf? feel like hard-charging sing-alongs, while “The New Press Kit” from a previously unreleased 2008 demo and “We Could Disappear” from 2008’s The Revisionists display more flash and raw instrumental power.
According to Brandon Spence, “As each day passes we learn more, we become better musicians, and we learn to express that better through our music. We’re learning how to be genuine and honest with ourselves, and I think it reflects in our music. People recognize and relate with that. That connection with our audience is why we do this.”
Also factors in The Stereo State’s developing sound are members Andrew Frongillo (vocals) and Patrick Kelliher (bass). “Andy is just blessed with his vocal cords; there is nothing he cannot do,” says Spence. “We met Pat while touring the first year with The Stereo State. He played for Connecticut band Make Do and Mend for a few years and he just starting playing with us earlier this year.”
Though taking its inspiration for its name from a clinical sleep study in which one group of people fell asleep while listening to music and others did not, The Stereo State doesn’t appear to have any urge to reach for the snooze button just yet.
Griffin says, “We’ll be releasing an EP on Creator Destructor Records in October of this year. It’s called Crossing Canyons. We’ll be touring down the East Coast in support of it with After The Fall, Anchors, and Antillectual. The tour will lead up to The Fest 11 in Gainesville, Fla., which we’re super-excited for. We are always writing nonstop, so I’m sure you’ll see another full-length next year. We’re also doing our first official music video for a song on the new record called ‘American Bones.’ It will release with the record.”