“The world is ending,” sings Zach Reynolds in a bluesy drawl, “but at least I’ve got you…” Could he mean Tricia Purvis, the other half of Graveyard Lovers? Perhaps. Musically (at least) Reynolds and Purvis need each other, since without drums you can’t have guitar, and without guitar you can’t have drums—that is unless you’re playing for quarters on the subway platform. But the members of Graveyard Lovers are far from panhandlers. They’re a blues/rock duo with a sound like Tennessee sour-mash: rough but sweet, with a strong kick.
The pair is self-billed as “Sonic Youth meets Son House,” which sums it up nicely. It covers “the entire spectrum of American music,” says Reynolds. The band, based in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, has a three-song EP and more songs in the works for what it hopes will be its first full-length LP. What began as a demo to apply for gigs with got spun out into something more. When you hear Graveyard Lovers’ three songs, “The World Is Ending,” “Everyday Is A War” and “Ripe To Misbehave,” there can be no doubt: this is rock and roll. “The World Is Ending” is a smoldering blues shuffle played at a menacing crawl, a slow burner that reduces the whole world to ashes; “Everyday Is A War” plays nicely on duo dynamics with call-and-response wordplay, Renyolds’ southern fried guitar fuzz and Purvis’ splashy, energetic drums. “Ripe To Misbehave” justifies that Sonic Youth comparison—it’s fast, aggressive, twangy and loud.
The pair met in New York through a friend and became roommates. Reynolds was searching for an outfit to join, but to no avail. Frustration led to boredom, and that’s when Reynolds and Purvis first jammed together. Sparks flew right away and the two knew right then and there they had something. Purvis, a New York native, was a newcomer to music, having picked up the drums only a few years ago. Reynolds, a season lifer in music, grew up in Louisiana with Delta blues singers like Son House, Blind Willie Johnson and Ledbelly seeping into his DNA.
There are certainly benefits to having a band comprised of only two members. Everyone shows up to rehearsal, decisions aren’t debated to death and band drama = non-existent. When you listen to rock stripped down to its bare parts like this, you realize what a great romance there is between a guitar and drums. “This band has come together and moved more gracefully than any other band I’ve ever heard of,” says Reynolds. And when you do listen to it, you get what he’s talking about.
Graveyard Lovers has a five-song EP due to come out next month, and Reynolds and Purvis are already working on new material for a full LP. Their running theme thus far has been decadence, decay and destruction. “America may be going down the tubes in a lot of ways,” says Reynolds, “but we still do one thing best: rock ‘n’ roll.”