Berry

The music of Berry is a strange animal. But writing and recording over 100 songs in their 18 years together has resulted in some dense, delicate, graceful pop songs with a certain Searching for Bobby Fischer mentality.

Berry formed in 2002 on Martha’s Vineyard when guitarist/vocalist Joey Lemon and drummer Paul Goodenough connected at an intensive four-month music program. When they returned to the Midwest, the two recruited college friend and keyboardist Matt Aufrecht. After two DIY EPs, their first LP, Marriage (Right Place Records, 2005), was released and met with critical acclaim.

After several tours and bass players and another EP, Berry moved to Chicago in search of a city that would fit their quirky and idiosyncratic music. There, they began a recording frenzy, releasing a series of six EPs and an experimental LP between 2007 and 2008. To promote these releases, the band had a novel idea for a tour: Foregoing the usual cargo van, Berry purchased a 30-day Amtrak pass and booked shows from Chicago to Seattle, relying entirely on the whims of public transport. Carrying a tiny tube amp in a rolling suitcase, a children’s drum set in a single kick drum case, and a full-sized keyboard on rollers, the band took an even more literal approach to their already minimalist styling.

Exhausted by their Odyssey, Berry’s productivity hit a lull until close friend and bass player Shane Bordeau joined the band, revitalizing the group with a jolt of positive energy. Their next LP, Blue Sky, Raging Sun (Joyful Noise Recordings, 2010), took its inspiration from the Amtrak tour, juxtaposing scenes of epic natural beauty with the ennui of endless train rides where micro societies are formed by a handful of strangers riding coach. Despite a devoted following, Blue Sky, Raging Sun saw limited commercial success, and the members of Berry spread out across the country, each pursuing separate professional opportunities.

The next few years bore little fruit for Berry, but in 2014, they decided to record again, this time with few expectations about what might transpire. Gathering in a re-purposed pole barn in rural Kansas, the group picked up as if they had never dropped a beat. After writing and recording the skeletons of 11 songs in four days, the album fell into production limbo until producer Paul Klimson (John Legend, Erykah Badu, Kirk Douglas of the Roots) offered his services to help complete the album. Everything, Compromised was released in 2018 as part of Joyful Noise Recordings’ White Label Series. Dale Nixon, the curator of Berry’s selection for this series said this of the band: “In my opinion, they are better than 99% of all music in the world. Which means they’re better than your favorite band, statistically speaking.”

Even prior to the release of Everything, Compromised, the four members of Berry gathered in Nashville, TN where they quite literally locked themselves into an abandoned bank vault that Paul Klimson had converted into a makeshift studio. It was there that Berry began their most recent batch of songs, songs that found their origin in words. Months before, the band had reinvented an old surrealist word game as a way to continue their creative collaboration while living in different cities. From these fragments, they pieced together recordings based on a collection of questions, images, and metaphors that draw inspiration from science, nature, and domestic life with its ever-present undertone of existential dread.

Vault of Light arrives Sept. 10th via Joyful Noise Gray Area Cassette Series