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Friday August 1st 2014

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Meet Wray: A Power-Gazing Dream Pop Trio

By Sarah McCartan

If you are drawn to the atmospheric sounds of the band War on Drugs, then get ready to be captivated by newcomers Wray. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, this power-gaze trio is comprised of band members David Brown, Blake Wimberly and David Swatzell.

Wray is set to release their self-titled debut album July 15 via Birmingham-based label, Communicating Vessels. Prior to that, they are making Pensacola one of their summer tour stops and taking the stage at Vinyl Music Hall on Friday, June 27.

IN: How and when did Wray form?
WIMBERLY: David Brown and David Swatzell had been playing in and out of bands together in Birmingham for the last ten years. Two of us (Swatzell and Blake) have been roommates for about four years and frequently went to see each other’s bands play. One day the stars aligned, and we decided to jam and Wray just happened.

IN: Where did the name Wray come from?
WIMBERLY: Well, there is an asteroid named 19721 Wray and considering we’re about to do some touring with the intergalactic surf-rock outfit Man Or Astro-man?, I think we’ll go with that.

IN: What was the inspiration behind Wray’s upcoming debut album?
SWATZELL: Dreamlike frequencies, sonic colors and cannabis.
BROWN: Trying to take this band more seriously, writing music at a more personal level.
WIMBERLY: Repetition, movement and cohesiveness.

IN: Are all three members involved in the writing process?
WIMBERLY: Yes. Usually it’s us playing around with ideas during practice. We’ll start to get something together and do a quick phone recording. We’ll talk it over, discuss structure, add this or that and go from there.

IN: Any bands that you cite as major influences?
WIMBERLY: There’s something about a locked in, straightforward, driving drumbeat. The motorik beat. Neu! did it quite well.
BROWN: Post-punk, romantic new wave movement and dream pop.
SWATZELL: Jean-Claude Vannier, Weird Al and Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins).

IN: Is this stop at Vinyl Music Hall part of a larger tour?
WIMBERLY: Indeed, it’s leading up to a couple of outings with Man Or Astro-man?. After Pensacola, we’ll be in Mobile for a show and then head home to get ready for our album release show in Birmingham. From there we’ll head out West with MOAM? for a couple of weeks. We’ll take a break in August and hopefully jump back into recording new material, and in early September head back out to do the East Coast with them. We’re all pretty excited and ready to get out there.

IN: Are all three of you Alabama natives?
WIMBERLY: Yes. Conceived, born and raised in the Magic City.

IN: Do you feel like your Birmingham home has shaped the direction of your music?
WIMBERLY: One thing is for certain: we wouldn’t have the opportunities we have now if it weren’t for Communicating Vessels (located here in Birmingham). They’re doing an amazing job, not just for us, but also for the community as a whole. They’re releasing our debut album and going far beyond that. They’re doing everything they can to ensure that everyone is taken care of. Jeffrey Cain (label owner) and Bekah Fox (label manager) have an undeniable passion and dedication. We’re incredibly grateful.

IN: What’s one thing you hope for individuals to take away from your music?
WIMBERLY: I am not sure we want them to learn anything, just listen. Maybe while they run or drive or fall asleep.

IN: What’s the best way you’ve heard your sound described?
WIMBERLY: Power-gaze.

IN: Any plans, hopes or pipe dreams moving forward?
WIMBERLY: Well our first album is coming out July 15, so that’s pretty big for us. We’ll have the Man Or Astro-man? tour coinciding with that…couldn’t ask for more. We’re going to be working on getting new material recorded and ready for the next release. Other than that, I think we all want to get to a point where we’re doing this thing full time. Whether it’s on the road, in the studio or just creating in general.

WRAY AT VINYL MUSIC HALL
WHAT: Wray with Precubed, Kent Stanton and Electric Sheep
WHEN: 8 p.m., Friday June 27
WHERE: Vinyl Music Hall, 2 S. Palafox
COST: $5-10
DETAILS: vinylmusichall.com