Years after their Soft Serve EP, Charly Bliss released the triumphant and lively Guppy, although many of their fans may not even realize how much of a road it was to get it out. Failed recording attempts and artwork changes had the band going back to the drawing board again and again just to get a record that fully represented them. It worked however as their debut LP has been keeping them on the road more than ever before, and finally allowed them to move towards new music as well. We had a chat with singer Eva Hendrick’s to talk about all the changes their album went through, how knowing each other for years has affected writing, and why writing jingles has made her pop writing stronger.
Northern Transmissions: How did your time doing jingles and musical theatre in high school affect the writing you’re doing now?
Eva Hendricks: Both helped with singing a lot! I started musical theatre when I was six, so I always though that’s what I would do the rest of my life. I kind of changed my mind last minute when it came time to go to school and do that full time. I got into jingles through musical theatre, because I was playing Sandy in Grease at my high school. A friend’s dad was in the audience and heard me sing. At the last minute a few weeks later, the girl who was their teen voice for jingles got sick at the last minute and they called me in to do it. I kept doing it from there, singing demos and that, it was my first time singing in a studio too. It’s so different, especially if you’ve just been doing musical theatre. I learned so much through them, especially about using your voice and your face to communicate emotion. When you’re doing jingles, people can only hear your voice, so you have to do a lot to communicate emotion through it, whether it’s selling mac and cheese or something else. I also learned a lot about writing catchy melodies and things that would stick in people’s heads. The people I was working for encouraged me to try writing on my own, trying to write songs but it was never thought something I thought I would do. At one point they said, “Do you think you could write songs.” My mom kicked me in the shins and said “Lie, tell them you can.” It was how I started writing, so it had a huge impact on writing music now.
NT: On this note what did you want to do differently for Guppy and what did you want to expand on from your previous EP releases?
EH: It was a long time between Soft Serve and Guppy, so that was really hard for us. I’m the most impatient of all of us, I like things to move quickly, we ended up recording the album twice and scrapping our first attempt. In general, we’re extremely competitive with ourselves, and we’re always trying to one-up ourselves from whatever we put out last. We rushed it the first time, just went in when we wrote ten songs. Ideally when you write a record you should be writing a ton of songs and pick your ten best, you have choices and know why songs should be on the record. A lot of it was making sure it was the best record it could be, and we knew that it wasn’t. We were definitely trying to improve ourselves. It was painful because I was so impatient, I was really angry all the time. But if we put out the record we originally made, I would’ve known it wasn’t as good as it could have been. We’re working on our second full-length now, and I feel fired up because I don’t think that original version was an accurate portrayal of who we were at the time.
NT: Word is the album cover also changed fairly last minute?
EH: So much of the record felt like that, almost getting there and then a huge catastrophe. Whenever we’re in San Diego we stay with these people, just the coolest family ever that live in this beach bungalow. The mom used to be a baker, and there was this picture of the mom on a bike with all these muffins, she looked so happy. We thought, “Boom, that’s the album cover.” In general we try to be very democratic in everything which can be hard, and we worked on the album cover for so long. At the last second we decided to check where the photo was from, it turns out it had been printed in the L.A. Times, and they had the rights to it, they were going to make us pay a ton of money without giving us total rights to it. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen. At the last second, I went out and bought a ton of pet goldfish and made the album cover. We had one day to make the cover so there were lots of tears. It was great, I loved those pet fish, the big one on the cover just died the other day.
NT: How do you think your long-held friendships have shaped your energy as a band?
EH: More than anything, there’s so much trust that we have in each other at this point. I know a lot of friend’s bands, where the dynamic is one person writing, and it’s dictatory. I see how that can work, but I have so much trust in my band-mates from knowing each other for so long. It’s not just bringing a song in, we’re always in stressful situations together. Working on songs with people is such a vulnerable thing to do. If I ever have a freakout, I have so much faith in our friendships that I’m not worried we’ll never speak again. We’re family, so we can all be really honest because we know we’re not going anywhere.
NT: I’ve heard you’re already writing the follow-up, so are you trying to streamline it a bit more than Guppy?
EH: I think so much of the battle of the first record was that we didn’t know what kind of band we were. Hearing the first attempt, we realized we were a pop band, the foundation of what we do is fun. That pop sound is the glue of our music and our band. That realization made things so much easier, now we know what’s missing when we’re writing. Writing this next record has been so different, we were all in college for the last record, and all working. We just carved out spaces and time to write before. For the time being, we’re all living off the money we make from touring, I can barely afford to buy anyone Christmas presents. I wake up every day, and all my time is committed to writing and working on songs, so it expedites things. I feel so psyched to release things, hopefully soon. For us, it wasn’t so hard that it took so long, but we’d been touring “Percolator” for years before it came out. We were so excited to move on to new music.
Words by Owen Maxwell