Philly’s not immediately thought of as a “twee” town. We’re (proudly) a cheesesteak-huffing, rival-team-slaying, bar-and-basement-dwelling people, but that’s only for us to say (see: Vice‘s much-maligned backhanded pat on our back and the corollary backlash). For years, Philadelphia’s Bleeding Rainbow (formerly Reading Rainbow) has been called a “cutesy” outlier in a punk town. Yet the diminutive is not/was not even close to Bleeding Rainbow’s ethos. In fact, Bleeding Rainbow is smack-dab in the middle of the Philly music scene, defining it and defying detractors’ assigned novelty status. Over their past three LPs and various other recordings (culminating in the just-released Interrupt), Bleeding Rainbow has shed that image (not to mention a name) and gained a new sound, new lineup, new groove.
Formerly comprised of husband-wife duo Sarah Everton and Rob Garcia, the group has doubled in size, adding drummer Ashley Arnwine, and Al Creedon on second guitar. Their band history and catalogue reads like an inflation graph; if x-axis is popularity and y-axis is band/sound size, by 2016, we’re looking at a 14-piece with MBV decibels. I spoke with Bleeding Rainbow’s Rob Garcia about why they came to Philly and why they stayed:
On Coming to Philly: Funny enough, I think it was actually the music scene that drew us all here. Al grew up across the river in Jersey also and would always come into Philly to see shows. Ashley started college in DC, but then quit and started touring with bands. After spending some time in the Pacific Northwest, music brought her to here, too. Sarah and I were finishing up college in Virginia and had no idea where we wanted to move, but we knew that Philly was a cheap place to live. As we started looking into things, we found out about the label Badmaster and a lot of really good bands that were based out of West Philly. We were really impressed by the house-show scene there, like Danger Danger and were also really into Bad News Bats, Satanized, and Tickley Feather. Although we didn’t know anyone when we moved here. We figured West Philly was the place to be.
On Branching Out: Back when we were a two-piece we knew there was only so far we could take our music. We learned this especially while touring. Thats why we asked Al to join our band as second guitarist while touring on Prism Eyes. Since then, we knew that moving Sarah to bass and finding a powerful drummer would allow us to make the type of music we wanted to make. Its been a constant process of evolution and pushing ourselves forward. We just want to play what we want to play.
On TSOP: Its pretty eclectic, but no matter what people are playing they are all really passionate about it. There are shows happening every night in every part of the City. There’s always something to do and everyone is always working on something new. Its a very creative environment. Philly is great because its small enough that you pretty much know everyone else that plays music. That sense of community and people being genuinely excited about other peoples bands is what makes Philly so great. There’s not an overriding sense of competition or anything like that. Our love of music is genuine. We all just want to play.
On “Making It:” I feel like we’re hitting a really good stride. With everything that’s happened over the past couple years, we’ve been able to find out what works well for us and really push ourselves in the right direction. I really feel like we’re firing on all cylinders now. Tour has been great. This is the first tour in a long time we booked ourselves without the help of a booking agent and it has been the best one we’ve done in a while. As a band we are also playing the strongest we’ve ever played. We are just doing what feels right. Philly is our home base. We love it here.