In this edition of Sounds of the Desert, we bring to you Palm Springs’ In Viridian: a five-piece, fresh-out-of-high-school indie band that considers palm trees, The Strokes, and getting naked to beat the heat as their favorite things. Their Soundcloud page features five demos that are fun, upbeat, and sure to get you moving: we think they sound like the raw, indie jazz-rock lovechild of The Cribs, Interpol, and The Strokes, with their soaring, yearning vocals, infectious melodies, and subtle, yet electrifying and seductive guitar solos. The band, consisting of Arturo Ramirez on vocals, Brandon Heil on lead guitar, Nicolas Lara on guitar, Dimitri Perera on bass, and Nick Noble on drums, has been crafting their own unique brand of garage-indie rock and roll for the past three years in their sun-drenched and mountainous home, Palm Springs. Of the many things Palm Springs is known for (its thriving gay community, contemporary art exhibits, street fair, and the walk of fame, to name a few), indie rock doesn’t automatically come to mind; In Viridian is hoping to change that. To get to know the band a little more closely, we spoke to Brandon and Arturo about the beginnings of their band, the local music scene, and their favorite female band crushes. Check out the interview and their video for “Standby” below.
all words by Andy Lara
all photography by Sarah Scheideman
Tell me about your band name: Where did it come from or what’s the meaning behind it?
Arturo: In the simplest terms, it’s a feeling of euphoria that you can place yourself in. When saying you’re In Viridian you can explore within yourself and reach a high state of serenity or coolness. Nothing to do with Pokemon. I came up with it sophomore year of high school and it just stuck and felt right.
(Editors Note: The Pokemon reference refers to Viridian City, the last city you face in the Pokemon game on the way to the Elite Four)
When and how did you guys get started as a band?
Dimitri, Arturo, and I met in our World History class sophomore year back in 2010, where we each recognized we had similar musical attributes. We got together, started jamming at my house and from there we found Nick and Nicolas.
What are some bands that inspire you guys?
Brandon: Each member has his own preference of tunes and artists, which adds to the writing process. We each come in with different influences, but as a whole some bands that inspire us would have to be be Interpol, The Strokes, and even newer bands such as Bombay Bicycle Club and Tame Impala.
How would you describe your music to an alien?
Brandon: Out of this world of course!
In what ways does your hometown of Palm Springs influence the band?
Arturo: Some of the songs’ lyrics are about experiences that have happened in the city of palm trees so that’s a huge influence.
How often do you guys practice?
Brandon: No less than once a week, often more than that.
How do your songs come together?
Brandon: I will bring a general outline of a song, such as the chorus and verse guitar parts. Sometimes I’ll have an idea of a drum part or bass part along with that, then we jam it out and see where that takes us: this is where we find our arrangement. Lyrics and melody are made during that process too. Arturo will listen and sing melodies, sometimes without any lyrics. Some songs have the exception of being completely written during jam sessions, with no pre-writing stage. The song “Standby” was birthed by a guitar riff Nicolas made up when he was just screwing around. It happened to catch everyone’s ear and from there we wrote around it.
You guys all just graduated high school, right? What are your guys’ plans?
Arturo: Right now, our plans are to try and move out to San Diego together. Reasons pertaining to this are to reach new audiences and spread our music. Also it’s too hot out in PS, haha.
What were some of the obstacles of balancing rock ‘n’ roll and high school?
Arturo: We all managed to graduate and stay productive with the band, there weren’t many obstacles besides a few school related events that maybe got in the way of practice or shows. But I still remember catching myself humming new melodies or writing lyrics during class. Now, however, it’s strictly rock ‘n roll.
What are some of the themes you explore in your songs?
Arturo: Themes of egoism, pretentiousness, personification when you feel down and out, mischief, and the ever-so-lasting theme of love.
In your music video for “Standby”, Brandon has a bloody nose. Was that real blood? Also, who’s that guy doing that sweet stunt on the bike in the end?
Brandon: Yes, that was my blood. That guy on the bike is sort of like that one guy who you would always see on random street corners with his cart dancing. He just rides his bike with extra long handles around town. I can’t say we know much more about him than that, but we decided to put him in the video.
Tell me about the desert music scene. Who are some like-minded artists?
Arturo: It’s a lot slower for a band like us since this desert’s scene is more-so based in hardcore or punk music, but we’re actually very close with a lot of the musicians in that scene and have played quite a few hardcore shows. Some like-minded artists are bands such as The Town Troubles and The Rebel Noise.
Do you think the city is receptive of bands? Is it rock and roll friendly?
Arturo: Honestly, at times it isn’t. Sometimes it feels like a restriction. I love Palm Springs, but the music scene could use improvement. I think it’s especially hard being under 21 because when we do get a gig at a bar or something, we usually have to play and leave. Like one time when we played with White Buffalo and Town Troubles, we had to leave immediately after we played and didn’t get to see them play.
Tell me about some of your female singer/band crushes?
Arturo: I’ve always had this weird thing for Gwen Stefani from No Doubt. Victoria Legrand from Beach House has this mystery to her voice, which I’m attracted to too. Alison Mosshart from The Kills is a dark queen in her own category. I promise you I’m not really into older chicks except those three. Haha.
If you could play a show with any band dead or alive, who would it be?
Brandon: Too many bands! But if I had to choose, I would say The Clash. Their energy on-stage was immense.
What’s the coolest thing about Palm Springs?
Arturo: The tight clothes the girls wear haha. We have some pretty rad hiking spots as well. Looking over the city is one of my favorite things to do.
What is the fastest/ easiest way to cool down in the desert summer heat?
Brandon: Strip down to your underwear, get a cold drink, turn on the AC, I guess…
Lastly, what’s the most trouble you’ve ever got in?
My lawyer told me not to speak of it again.
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