For a lot of guys, being in a band is like being in a family. For Boldface, the band is family. Bassist/guitarist Jay Phillips and drummer Wolfie Phillips could easily have the kind of contentious relationship that afflicts some band brothers. And with the lineup rounded out by their cousins — Edouard Bullock on lead vocals/guitar/bass and Gary Ruble on guitar — the potential for long suppressed familial tensions to flare up in the pressurized atmosphere of a contemporary Rock band could certainly be heightened.
But they’re not. These guys are close; the band’s rehearsal space is in Bullock’s second floor Sedamsville apartment and Wolfie Phillips is his downstairs neighbor. If you’re looking for Gallagher brothers-style donnybrooks from Boldface, you’ve got the wrong family.
“We’ve all grown up playing music together so it’s been a nice, natural fit,” Jay Phillips says. “Less fights and things of that nature.”
“We can kind of pick on each other because we’re so close,” Bullock says. “No one gets too mad. We can just blow it off.”
The quartet is such a tightly knit and organic unit that no one really remembers whose idea it was to play together when their bands dissolved a year and a half ago. Almost effortlessly, the brothers and their cousins turned their family reunion jams and occasional musical get-togethers into an actual band.
“All of our bands fell apart at the same time, and somebody texted somebody and said, ‘We should play,’ ” Ruble says. “The first time we got together, we wrote two songs. It came together really easy.”
That ease of creation is evident on Boldface’s debut CD, Art in Heaven (available for the moment at gigs), a visceral combination of Post Punk energy and Pop melodicism.
When Bullock namechecks The Beatles and Nirvana as major influences, it’s not at all hard to connect those dots with Art in Heaven as a guide.
“We had an idea when we started this band that we wanted to be like — and this is going to sound so cliché — The Beatles, in the way that we want to able to do any kind of song,” Phillips says. “We want to keep in mind that the song is the most important thing, not the genre.”
“It’s easier to list bands I hate,” Ruble says with a laugh. “Music should be something that comes out of you, not something that you’re forcing to fit some genre. I like anything that you know there’s emotion and the music’s not about the image.”
Rest assured, there’s nothing this about Boldface. Jay Phillips and Edouard Bullock both play guitar and bass, frequently switching roles onstage and in the studio. And Bullock, who pens the majority of the lyrics, cites his neighborhood as one of his primary sources of inspiration.
“A lot of songs I write are about people around this neighborhood, because it’s so full of characters,” Bullock says. “Everyone’s so different and each person could be a song.”
With so much lyrical inspiration and musical dynamics at work, Boldface is already churning out new material. The quartet is still clearly excited about the results they got on Art in Heaven (which they credit in large part to the input of producer/Foxy Shazam guitarist Loren Turner), but they’re also stoked about the direction of the new songs.
“This CD is a good foundation; I don’t think there’s a weak song on the whole CD,” Phillips says. “We’re not losing any of our Pop sensibilities. We’re still very interested in having hooks.”
“It’s hard to define with one album what we really wanted to go for,” Ruble says. “I love the album but I think we need about 100 songs to get the scope of what we’re trying to do.”
Since releasing Art in Heaven (the song “Art” was written about a guy in the neighborhood who subsequently died, hence the disc’s title) last October, Boldface has been building its fan base with twice monthly shows on average. The band is looking to expand that frequency in the new year and may even start pursuing more out of town dates like their recent jaunt to Indianapolis. But for Boldface, it’s not about the exposure, it’s about the music.
“We just really want to write good songs, that’s what it boils down to,” says Phillips. “If something comes from it, that’s what we’re hoping for. If it doesn’t, then at least we had a little fun and stayed true.”
BOLDFACE performs Saturday at The Underground in Fairfield. Get show and venue details here.