San Francisco may be renowned for its psychedelic and punk scenes, but when’s the last time it birthed a real arena-rock band? With the Summer Of Love in the past, there’s a new opportunity for up-and-comers to bring Fog City into the era of glossy, 21st-century anthemic rock. The Soonest is one of those bands, with a sound as epic and wide-reaching as the Golden Gate Bridge.
The quintet’s members—Young Lee (guitars/vocals), Andrew Wales (drums), Alex Stack (bass), Greg Sammis (guitar) and Mark Quitevis (guitar)—met when Young and Wales were trying to organize a musical side project. The group dynamic was so tight, however, that the side project matured into a full band with a very full sound, one showcased on last year’s Quarters EP.
“We’re suckers for reverb, layered instrumentation, vocal harmonies and dramatic swells, so I guess naturally that just comes out when we write and perform these songs,” explains Lee. “We find ourselves adding more layers to things and wanting to get more depth in the song, and as a result, they end up sounding more dramatic and bigger.”
The guitars nimbly arpeggiate over a hearty rhythm section peppered with reverb and echo, recalling the haunting grandiosity of the Arcade Fire and the National. Unlike its influences, though, the Soonest retains the ruminants of classic lo-fi; in the production, but in particular, the lyrics, as confessional as a diary and with enough angst to be cathartic without sounding too overblown.
As of late, the band has stayed and played around its San Fran stomping grounds, picking up plenty of press from local publications around the way. The Soonest continues to play shows around the Bay area, with a West Coast tour in the works. No word yet on whether the rockers will come east, but don’t be surprised if they do: This big a sound can’t stay hidden forever. Or can it? “It’s just a matter of time before we find ourselves playing in an awkward show in an abandoned warehouse in a strange city playing for two people and some dogs,” Lee jokes.
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