Sunday, February 18, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

The Pals: Tampa pop-rock band seeks meaning in melody

The Pals are Clearwater quartet of mid 20-somethings who deliver catchy, sing-along, stick-in-your-head melodies. Their music teeters on the edges of traditionalism and modernism, taking listeners to a place that sounds simultaneously familiar and foreign — think the sonic foundations of Copeland and Death Cab For Cutie coupled with the intimacy of an acoustic guitar passed between friends on a front porch on a weekend evening.

The Pals are Adrienne Kidwell, piano and vocals; Joey Sarlo, guitar and vocals; Eric Sarlo, bass; and Andy Thomas on drums. They took a break from rehearsing one evening to introduce themselves.

How did the Pals come to be?

Kidwell: Most of us have actually known each other since we were kids, and we've always done music together in different fashions at church and just for fun. Me and Joey started writing some songs together, and it eventually became a band, and we started really doin' it.

Is your subject matter religious?

Kidwell: I'm Christian, so it comes from my world view, but it's just about life in general and anything anybody would come in contact with.

Tell us more about your songwriting technique.

Kidwell: Joey writes a lot of the songs too. We'll come up with a melody or a verse or two, then we'll all get together and polish it off and make it into a complete song.

Joey Sarlo: Adrienne writes most of the lyrics. There's a couple that maybe I've added a verse to here and there, but she would be the primary writer. Sometimes it starts out with her with a chorus that she writes the music to as well. She kinda passes it my way and I try to add music to it based on what she's thinking. So, I'm more of the, "Let me try to help you put the music together with the words you've written," and the song just completely goes to another dimension when we add the drummer and the bass player.

How does the name the Pals reflect the members and/or music?

Kidwell: It took us a long time to get to a name, 'cause we didn't know if we wanted to go one route or the other. When it came down to it, essentially, the whole reason we're together and we write music is because of the friendship we have with each other. So, that's what we really identify with as a group; that's why we came up with the Pals, 'cause that's really what we are.

Joey Sarlo: The Pals kind of gave that light and fun feeling, which is what we are when we're around each other. It's very brotherly/sisterly. Two of us are brothers. It is just very silly a lot of the time. That's where the Pals came in, 'cause "the Friends" didn't quite capture that.

Kidwell: I feel like a lot of our music is like that — playful and light, and then some of it is very deep and meaningful, kind of like our relationship.

What inspires you?

Kidwell: When I write a song, I feel I get more inspiration when I can't come to a conclusion in some topic in life, so I turn to music for search for answers, and in that thinking process, I get music out of it. So, a lot of our songs are really about my transitions over the last couple of years, and searching for answer, I guess.

Thomas: Just these guys as friends. I've known them all for so long, and being musicians too, they just inspire me to keep going, and play my instrument better and create music for them. It's a real tight-knit family around here.

Eric Sarlo: I like being able to figure things out. I like being able to add to Adrienne's music, as I'm able to do that; it inspires me to do my best and get better at my instrument. I'm just a happy guy in general (laughs). Just being a Christian is just one of those things where you have joy and you're inspired to live life to the fullest. That's really what we're doin'.

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