Based in Dunedin and formed in 2007, Alexander and the Grapes are brothers Alexander Charos, 20, guitar and vocals, and Philip Charos, 15, drums and trombone, along with Chase Swan, 18, guitar and lap steel, and Chris Buckler, 21, bass.
The young band members display sophistication beyond their years by selectively incorporating elements of acoustic-electric folk pop of today and yesteryear — the introspective gentility of the Swell Season, rock backbone of the Band and psychedelic earthiness of Foxtrot-era Wilco.
Do you have any recording plans?
Alexander: Recording our EP is our main priority right now. We're looking at going up to Monsters and Marigolds studio in Atlanta this summer and hopefully releasing our EP in the early fall. At the present time we're just playing a lot of shows in the bay area with some really great bands.
You've played around town with other musicians …
Alexander: We have friends fill in with us sometimes so we can incorporate more instruments. Tailgunner Joe and the Earls of Slander are cool guys. They played a Dylan cover with us. Kyle used to play a lot of shows with us before he joined TGJ.
Chase: We are pretty much best buds with Proud Iron Lion. We have barbecues all the time.
What do each of you have going on these days outside the band?
Swan: Well, I'm finishing my A.A. at SPC this spring. I was a chocolatier. However, the store I was at went out of business recently.
Philip: I've been playing lots of gigs lately and studying music at PCCA.
Alexander: I'm out of school, working construction and trying to write as much music as I can.
Describe how you go about writing lyrics.
Alexander: I usually just sit down with the guitar and find some chords that I like, and then I just start singing phrases that are in my mind till I find something that I think can turn into a good song. I try listening to a lot of different songwriters and find different styles of writing. I've been really into John Mark McMillan and Glen Hansard's songwriting lately. I've been trying to focus more on writing songs that I like, because the worst feeling is when you get so caught up in what you think other people will think that you can't even enjoy writing anymore.
If you had to vote for a groundbreaking record of 2008 …
Alexander: The Medicine by John Mark McMillan
Chase: Microwavable by Brer. It's from '07 but it's too good to leave out.
Philip: The Baron Von Bear EP.
Name a band from the past you would open for.
Alexander: The Band, because I wish we could be just like them.
Philip: Elvis, the Vegas years. He had such great costumes.
Chase: The Wonders — Steve Zahn made me want to play guitar.
Hear them: With Saint Sweetheart and the Turncoat on Saturday, 9 p.m., at the Uptown Bar, 658 Central Ave., St. Petersburg. $5.