They're free-spirited old souls in even older clothes. And yet, the members of St. Pete's vintage-rock act Archaic Interest have managed to light a fire under the feet of lively young followers across Tampa Bay this year.
Just don't mistake these 20-somethings' hippie aesthetic and careless exuberance for stereotypical slacker-isms. When Archaic Interest plays, they travel back in time more than a half-century, honing in and delivering something altogether incendiary.
So, what's behind the band name, exactly?
"Archaic Interest just means we are into old stuff," lead vocalist and guitarist Jeff Williams says matter-of-factly.
"Or that we're all just living in a different era," jokes his girlfriend Emelle Lee, backing vocalist and tambourine player.
Check out live performances of Oceans of Opportunity or Sopwith Camel, off the band's Long Gone But Not Gone Long EP, and the comments from Williams and Lee start to make sense.
On stage, Williams is the shaggy gypsy character with commanding presence, a unique baritone and echoed vocals akin to those of the Doors' Jim Morrison. You could hang on his every word, but just then, before you've become totally entranced, the rest of the band brings you back with feel-good vibes, reverb-soaked garage and surf-rock sounds, a ton of tremolo and ample smiles.
If you hadn't guessed, the guys and gals of Archaic Interest share a love for all things retro — surf rock and pop music from the '50s and '60s, especially. Think 13th Floor Elevators, the before-their-time band behind You're Gonnna Miss Me (and the group often cited as the first true psychedelic band). Another influence is Link Wray, the '50s rock guitarist who employed overdriven, distorted electric blues guitar sounds (and earned a spot on Rolling Stone's 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time list).
"I think we all share the same influences and then each of us has a different slant," says Dylan Martin, guitarist and keyboardist.
Martin, bassist Rod Woolf and drummer Tyler Stoelting have each had a fondness for folk, punk and doo-wop music at varying times in their young careers. (Speaking of Stoelting, here's a fun fact. Before he was in the band, he once called WMNF as a crazed Archaic Interest superfan while a previous iteration of the group played on-air. The rest is history, we suppose.)
But back to those influences.
"Overall, our influences are generally coming from that same root tree of rock 'n' roll," says Woolf. "Well, maybe not hair metal."
These days, Archaic Interest listens to bands, who, not unlike them, play old-timey music with modern punch. They include Dead Ghosts, the Growlers, Temples, Thee Oh Sees, Gothic Tropic and artists off of California's Burger Records.
As for the Archaic Interest lifestyle, you'll find their apartment and Roser Park practice space deserving of an American Spirit sponsorship (maybe some consideration from Blue Moon, too). And chatter about thrift store finds here isn't uncommon either.
"I was actually raised in a vintage clothing shop called Dogstreet that my parents ran in the early '90s and have just been playing dress-up ever since," says Williams.