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April 2019 - Bermudas

Fun Lovin' Surf-Punk Trio or a Hardworking Bermuda Triangle?

Story by LCC Radio Reporter Philippe Goudiaby

BermudasMichigan winters are about as far from a Caribbean climate as you can get, but the Bermudas are melting away the cold with some good ol’ surf-punk stylized music. The name ‘Bermudas’ is meant to place you in the sunny soundscapes that the group creates. “Genre bending, fun, and scrappy,” are the words Bermudas vocalist, Dennielle Russ uses to describe their sound.

The Grand Rapids trio is comprised of Russ on guitar and vocals, Charity Lytle on bass and Chris Kleinman on the drums. Initially meeting on Craigslist, Russ and Lydie got together back in 2010 with Kleinman climbing on board later. Kleinman tells the story of when the group first assembled, “I first met Charity through a mutual friend and when we both learned that each of us played music we became quick friends...a few years after that when Dennielle and Charity were looking for a new drummer...asked me to come over and help them practice while they were searching. In reality it was an audition. After a few sessions together they asked me what I thought about joining the band. Pretty cool moment for me.”

The group is based in Grand Rapids, however none of the members are native to the city. Kleinman spoke of how they were all drawn to the lively Grand Rapids music scene.

“As I started playing and hanging out with artists, I noticed a family-like atmosphere among bands in the city,” said Kleinman, “No competition. Really provides a healthy positive space to be creative and not hold back.”

After dabbling in various open mic performances, the band had their first show at the Division Avenue Art Collective and they have not looked back since, playing gigs around the city at venues such as The Pyramid Scheme. Despite playing out more and creating a name for themselves, Bermudas stay true to Bermudastheir garage band roots and also routinely play house shows. This setting seems to be a perfect fit the group, which is likely the reason they describe it as their favorite venues to perform.

“[There’s] something special about playing in a dark cold Michigan basement with people drinking beer.” Kleinman said, “Definitely an energy booster while playing.”

Other performances worth noting are their release shows.

“Our release shows have been so fun with great turnouts and chances for us to dive even deeper into being creative with making the event a celebration,” said Russ, “It is always an incredible honor to have a packed turnout at those shows and exciting to share the music we've worked hard on and that we have had fun crafting.”

All juggling full-time commitments, the band has to work hard to devote time to the music. Whether it be working as a massage therapist, creating glass art, or studying for local ‘The Office” trivia competitions, everyone in the band stays busy in their daily lives.

“We are all respectful of each other’s commitments,” said Russ, “so it's not so much of a challenge; just something we have to be creative about sometimes.”

And creative they have been! With the release of their new album Bloom, the group took a new approach on their latest work. Russ discussed the bands creative process through the album.

“We had guests on this album, whereas previously we had guests just live at the release show,” said Russ, “This was a full album so we spent a lot more time in the studio. We pushed ourselves with adding Bermudasdimension to songs and broke out of some of our comfortable places by playing a little slower than our normal fast punk pace.”

The band worked over the course of two years to produce Bloom. Kleinman recounts the mental obstacles they overcame while completing the project,

“I can remember thinking man this or that just isn’t gonna come together,” said Kleinman, “but we never folded in those situations; just worked harder and i think the end result shows.”

The final product is a pleasant contrast from their previous works. The hours of studio time and array of guest featured are evident as Bloom displays a new level of depth for the Bermudas. They still manage to maintain the essence of their sound which means there is plenty to enjoy for old and new listeners alike.

The release of Bloom marks a milestone for the Bermudas, however their sight remains fixed towards the future.

“I think we have a lot more to give and more growth in our sound and style,” said Kleinman, “So with that being said we will continue to write and when the time is right we will continue to record. It’s all about fun for us and self exploration. Really looking forward to what else we find inside and sharing it.”

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