Artist of the day: The Semis
From a twilight zone on the outer edges of punk, pop and the classic rock your long-haired uncle cranked on the faux-wood-paneled console, the Semis have consistently defied tidy genre classifications and gained respect as a favorite live band in the St. Pete music scene. Influences as far flung as the Beach Boys, Cheap Trick and Pavement can be heard in the band's twisted rockers and not-quite-but-sorta-kinda ballads.
Founder and lead singer Billy Summer, the son of USF classical music professors, has been playing guitar, writing, cavorting, wearing old-lady glasses and, oh yeah, singing for the better part of two decades. Get him going in conversation, and he'll share some seedier tidbits. Suffice it to say Summer has held it together, and his band's current lineup is its most solid so far; a feat in spite of and a credit to himself.Here's the band's semi-official update, per Summer: The Sunny Side of the Semis: "The Semis have been busy in 2009, with personnel changes that include the addition of Kyle Lovell taking over drum duties, and Jay Schultz ( Military Junior) slotting in on bass guitar. This fall we will finish our third batch of songs for the hotly anticipated Year in the Sun full length album. This melodic collection of hazy Califlorida beach rock was Recorded at Dog Peter Gnat studios, and the album is currently being mixed at Red Room Recorders in Tampa."
Endorse this? "The new record takes a more optimistic look at some darker themes represented in previous songs. However, we have lofty aspirations for this one. Finally, major labels are beating down the door. Stadiums are being sold out in record time. Endorsement deals are being signed faster than you can say "Beer Summit." That being said, The Semis will be content to find a small home for their growing catalog of huge, amazing hits and to be featured in a few choice surf films. The album will be available for digital download in Rocktober."Future plans: "Next year will include shows in NYC and Los Angeles, as well as a new analog recording produced under the tutelage of Conrad Uno of Egg Studios ( Presidents of the United States of America, Mudhoney, Zeke, The Posies) and/or Matt Verta-Ray, NYHED studios ( Andre Williams, Jon Spencer, Speedball Baby). These are just some of the exciting things happening in The Semis' camp as we cash in and sell out this fall. The Semis are not to be f---ed with."
Their sales pitch: "The Semis sell out. 'Tis factual. Come testify the truth and be born with The Semis, Sept. 5th, at the mother-grabbin' Emerald on Central Avenue in St. Pete."
The show is Saturday night with Room Full of Strangers, Hot Hands and Cotton Candy Cookies and Cream. Admission is $3.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*. Photo by Marcus McCord.