Trail Mix: Underground Sound with Eternal Summers

Roanoke is by no means an indie rock hotbed. But thanks to the continual success of power pop trio Eternal Summers, the Star City could soon have some serious hipster cred.

The burgeoning group delivers some of the fuzzy melodic comfort of Smashing Pumpkins and the Shoegaze intensity of My Bloody Valentine—sounds that these days are more likely to come out of Brooklyn than the Blue Ridge. The three-piece group emerged back in 2010 from Roanoke’s Magic Twig Community, a collective of musicians that rotate between different bands.

“I can’t really compare any two groups in Roanoke and say they sound similar,” says singer and guitarist Nicole Yun, who initially started Eternal Summers with drummer Daniel Cundiff. “The scene embraces a lot of different styles. Musicians here tend to reinvent themselves through different projects.”

With a minimalist lo-fi sound and DIY grit, the duo released a debut album, Silver, on the venerable independent label Kanine Records (Grizzly Bear, Surfer Blood) and decided to hit the road. During an early tour Yun’s guitar was stolen, so she and Cundiff decided to add bassist Jonathan Woods to fill out their sound. With the new lineup the band release a critically acclaimed sophomore breakout effort Correct Behavior.

There’s even more growth in the band’s latest, The Drop Beneath, which was just released last month. To make the album, the band left home and traveled to Austin, Texas, to record with producer Doug Gillard (Guided by Voices and Nada Surf) at Resonate Studios. “On this one we all felt artistically comfortable,” Yun said “We’re three musicians that love all types of music. We decided to do the record we really wanted to do.”

That meant some sonic expansion, which included adding synthesizers and extra guitar layers to the group’s arsenal. It led the band to explore some new territory, including elements of post-punk and new wave in the Cure-like standout track “Gouge.” The sounds swell around Yun’s vocals, which have an authoritative sweetness that will please fans of Juliana Hatfield.

“We’ve become known for having very simple, clear-cut songs and making the most out of minimalism, but this time we wanted to explore the studio a little bit more,” Yun said. “It felt like a more professional environment than recording at home, where we’re trying to live our normal lives while squeezing in some recording here and there.”

The band just finished an initial run of shows supporting the new album—sharing bills with The Pains of Being Pure at Heart and the United Kingdom-based Cheatahs—that included a return appearance at South by Southwest. More dates are coming soon, but for the moment the band is back home collaborating with fellow musicians in Roanoke.

“People here are supportive with whatever you want to do,” Yun added. “That’s helped us a lot, because as a band we want to play the music we want to play and not worry about current trends in indie rock.”

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