Charly Bliss discusses growing up

Charly Bliss’s first album, Guppy, was made for endless summer rotation. It’s a half hour of what drummer Sam Hendricks describes as "100-percent, high octane" power pop. Blending sugary, addictive hooks with a wall of fuzz, Charly Bliss crafted a set of music likely to remind you of the best ’90s alternative rock album you never actually heard.

With their second album, Young Enough, some of that has changed. They’ve embraced synths and bigger pop production that suggests something of a leveling up for the band. Though their songs are as catchy as ever, they’re also more nuanced, more brutally honest, and more grown up. It’s a big album, and yet it feels much more intimate.

I spoke with singer Eva Hendricks and her brother Sam about the album, growing up, and the importance of always challenging themselves.

It’s my understanding that when you wrote the songs for your first album, Guppy, you had lived with them for a while before they were released?

Eva: I think "Percolator" was written four or five years before Guppy actually came out. So by the time it actually did come out, we were so relieved, but I would also say a bit frustrated and just kind of "Grrr, this album needs to come out; we can’t wait any longer!" And we recorded it twice, so it felt like a long road to getting the album out. It’s been a totally different experience with Young Enough.

How soon after the first album was released did you start on Young Enough?

Eva: We had already started writing by the time Guppy was out. The songs, we had them for a while, which I think was a good thing because I felt really aware that once the album was out and people have heard it, it might be kind of scary to feel the pressure of writing something new. So by the time we broke the seal, we were already on our way.

Sam: Also, for Guppy, at least the first iteration, we had only written 10 songs. And I think that was one of the biggest reasons we re-recorded it in the first place, and so we learned from our mistakes and ended up writing way more songs than we needed.

There’s definitely a lot of new and different ideas on Young Enough. How important is it for you as a band to continually be challenging yourselves?

Eva: It was so important for us to not make the same album twice. We didn’t want to make Guppy 2.0. We wanted to make an album that felt like we had grown and experimented with things that didn’t immediately come to us, and that makes for a record that we’re all really proud of. The first 10 songs we wrote would have been a very logical follow-up to Guppy, then it was really exciting to see what happened when we went beyond that and forced ourselves to try new things and get out of old habits. We always want to push ourselves in the right direction. I always want to feel like we’re growing. I’d hate to put out the same album over and over again.

The title Young Enough feels like an unfinished statement, like you’re suggesting a second half of that: "Young enough to be..." fill in the blank.

Eva: Definitely. I was thinking about what it means to get older. But I really like this idea that as you get older, you also get softer, or that’s what I hope for. You get more open, I guess. And I think something I never want to be as a person is stubborn and rigid; I always want to feel like I’m growing, and I think of that as a young mindset. Your perspective is always changing. The title track is about that. It’s a relationship I went through, which I’ve written about before, and I was really frustrated and angry when I first wrote about it. But when I got older, I also felt a lot of peace with the situation, and gratitude in some ways, and the ability to see where it brought me. So I think the idea was kind of like, you’re young enough to be wrong and to prove yourself wrong and have your mind change and to mess up. And I think it’s something that’s not tied to a certain age, it’s just tied to who I am forever.

What is the biggest change the band has undergone as you’ve grown?

Sam: I think we started listening to a lot more new music. When we started, I was the kind of person who found what I liked and would just obsessively listen. I was kind of stuck in a box, like all the ’90s stuff—Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Weezer. Then meeting Spencer and Dan, and traveling around the country multiple times together, I think it’s done a tremendous change in terms of musical taste and has affected my songwriting.

Eva: I would say for me, the biggest change is that being in this band has both forced me to become a lot more self-aware and also a lot more confident. We are around each other so much, and we essentially live together around the world and work together—it’s a lot of time together, and it’s really humbling to have a group of people around you who see you at your absolute worst and best and love you and support you regardless of where you’re at. We’re so close as bandmates, and that’s a really lucky and wonderful thing that I don’t take for granted. This whole band started because Spencer said, "I bet you’ve been secretly writing songs," and he was totally right! And this band wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t believe in me. I’m lucky enough to have bandmates who ignore me or force me to do things I don’t think I can do. Like, I didn’t think I could play guitar, and I’d say "Don’t give me this part, I’ll mess it up," and they’d just say, ‘No, you’ll be fine.’ They are always putting me in a position to grow as a person and I feel really lucky.

Sam: That was a way better answer than mine. I think I want to double down on that. [Laughs]

Charly Bliss
June 29
The Casbah

Other Recommended Shows This Week:

Eric B & Rakim (June 20, House of Blues): Two of the best and most influential albums in hip-hop history—Paid in Full and Follow the Leader—have crossed the 30-year mark. And the two men behind them are still bringing those rap Rosetta stones to audiences three decades later.

Mattson 2 (June 20, Belly Up): Twin brothers Jared and Jonathan Mattson make music that blurs the line between indie rock, jazz, and surf rock, and it’s one of the more interesting sounds to come out of San Diego. They recently collaborated with synth-pop artist Toro y Moi, which was a cool combination, but they more than hold their own as an instrumental unit.

Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals (June 26, Open Air Theatre): This was one of the shows I highlighted in my Summer Concert Preview, in large part because Paak’s 2016 album, Malibu, hasn’t lost its freshness in three years. But do yourself a favor and check out any live videos of Paak on YouTube to witness pure joy in the form of live music.

Jeff Terich is the web editor of San Diego Magazine, and the music critic behind the blog The Setlist. His writing has been published in Stereogum, Bandcamp Daily, American Songwriter, Fodor's and Vinyl Me Please.

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