On a recent Friday in St. Petersburg, Kyle Wyss and Sheridan Willard were sipping health drinks at Central Cafe and Organics when in through the door walked Orhan Chettri and Ben Goodman.
Greetings were issued. Introductions were made. Small talk was exchanged.
And with that, the group Blind Man's Colour became, for the first time ever, a full band.
This might come as a shock to some music fans, considering a number of prominent blogs and bloggers — including Kanye West and Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste — have heaped praise upon Blind Man's Colour this spring. The band's debut album, Season Dreaming, due in August on Brooklyn's Kanine Records (Chairlift, Northern State, Oxford Collapse), is drawing comparisons to Animal Collective.
But while the online hype mounts, this group of 19-year-old college kids will spend the summer fleshing out their dreamy, noise-pop sound.
"It was kind of uncertain what would happen with this album," said Chettri, one of three members who attended Shorecrest Preparatory School in St. Petersburg. "We weren't sure if we would have to play them live, even. We were just like, 'Whatever, let's record them, and we'll figure it out when we get to that point.'"
"A lot of songs on the album were basically written and recorded in a few days," Wyss adds. "So we never even learned the songs."
"We have to listen to them and relearn them," Chettri laughs. "We have to relearn our album now. We've got to get the tabs for our album."
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Wyss and Chettri, the group's songwriters, have been friends since middle school, when Chettri moved to St. Pete from Washington, D.C. They bonded over their love of classic rock, especially Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin. "We tried to cover Stairway to Heaven, which was a fail," Wyss said.
In 11th grade, Willard, who had been a drummer in Pennsylvania, moved to Florida and enrolled alongside Wyss and Chettri at Shorecrest.
"At lunch every day at school, we would go into the band room and just use the drum set and guitar and bass that they had," Willard said.
Recorded at home throughout the guys' senior year, Season Dreaming does sound a lot like Animal Collective — bird noises, hypnotic guitars, repetitive riffs, underwater-sounding vocals. It is earthy, natural, ambient and wholly organic.
"To us, the album really doesn't have a sonic theme," Chettri said. "Every song is really its own. It's not like we went into the studio for a month and laid down every sound. We recorded it on tape machines, laptops, and mixed it all together. It's like a cool photo album for us to look back on our senior year."
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The three friends headed off to separate colleges — Wyss to Florida Gulf Coast University, Willard to Northeastern University and Chettri to New College in Sarasota — and, almost as an afterthought, started sending their music blogs and labels. One by one, some of the Web's most popular music blogs started weighing in.
From I Guess I'm Floating: "Season Dreaming is on its way to being my favorite discovery of 2009. ... (The song Heavy Cloud Hustle) is as perfect a second track as one could hope for."
From the Tripwire: "The sound texture is thick, bright and full-to-bursting. ... At times it's very much like a mellowed-out MGMT, with a softer vocal style and a far-away beat that we imagine is what music would sound like from the womb. In a good way."
The biggest blurb came on Jan. 28, when Kanye West somehow stumbled across Blind Man's Colour and posted an .mp3 of their song Jimmy Dove, as well as some album art, on his blog. The post's title: "SOME DOPE S--- FOR MY APARTMENT!!"
"I had a 9:30 English class that day," Wyss recalls. "I was there early, so I was just going on the Internet. I went on my Facebook, and someone posted that link on my wall. ... We were like, holy s---. I thought it was some photoshopped joke or something."
But it wasn't a joke. And the very next day, Blind Man's Colour started getting e-mails from noted indie labels like Warp and Kanine, with whom the band eventually signed.
Now all they've got to do is live up to the hype. At the time of Kanye's post, Season Dreaming had been finished for months, and the band hadn't played together since summer 2008.
"I think I feel it the most," Kyle said of the pressure. "We're just these kids in school, not taking anything seriously, and now in this band on this label that gives us money, hires a press agent to promote us. It's kind of like, 'Oh, I guess we should do something.'"
"I guess at this point we're satisfied," Chettri added. "How other people respond really makes no difference. Just feeling confident with all the songs live is the biggest part."
That's easier said than done. The band has played only one show as Blind Man's Colour, an informal, unpaid set on Pass-a-Grille Beach. They brought in Goodman, a friend of Chettri's at New College, to play bass.
So far, Blind Man's Colour has three gigs lined up, including one July 18 with Viernes at Crowbar in Ybor City. But they're rehearsing constantly, and planning for some gigs in New York in August, around the time of the album's release. You can pre-order Season Dreaming at kaninerecords.com, and get all the .mp3s for free now.