What do you get when you cross a punk rocker from Belfast, Northern Ireland with a indie-folkster from Pittsburgh? The powerful indie rock ensemble The Local, whose combination of punk rock influences, infused with sweeping operatic arrangements resemble something producer Brian McTear (War on Drugs, Strand of Oaks, Matt Pond PA, Local Natives) lovingly describes as My Bloody Valentine meets Ennio Morricone.
Their story begins near Belfast where Dean Henry formed the short-lived punk band Slate with his younger brother Lee. Proudly wearing their influences on their sleeve, the band drew a large and loyal local following with its stage presence and catchy, driving tunes. It was during this time that he met Jenny, an American living in Northern Ireland, also playing in small town pubs and clubs around the country. She became a supporter of The band, and later, Slate’s unofficial tour manager. “We would load our gear into my Peugeot hatchback and trek all over Northern Ireland playing shows”. The couple married and headed to Pittsburgh, where Jenny was born and raised.
A lifelong music appreciator, Ben Sweet determined to teach himself guitar after a diabetes diagnosis. With an assist from a music theory text, he quickly gained his chops and began writing the lyrically-driven folk songs which formed the basis of his solo act Southside American. His first solo record In Our Keystone State was released in 2013 to critical acclaim and significant local buzz. As Sweet looked to round out Southside’s sound, he added a backing band. A tip from the band’s keyboardist, who worked alongside Jenny Henry, led him to Dean, a skilled percussionist, in the spring of 2014.
It was while playing together in Southside American that Henry and Sweet discovered their mutual affection for bands such as The Jam, The Clash, The Replacements and The Pixies. Sweet encouraged Henry to begin writing his own songs and, in no time, he was churning out one compelling composition after another, all the while his guitar chops increasing dramatically. The two begin writing together and, in no time at all, had put together the songs which form the nucleus of their debut EP Reverie which was recorded with McTear at Miner Street Studio in Philadelphia, and features Jenny Henry on bass and Pat Berkery (The War on Drugs, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!) on drums.
Since returning from the studio, the band has recently added percussionist Stephen Flory and keyboardist Eric Matlock.
A self-described band for adults The Local brings a powerful yet understated sensibility to the stage on diverse tracks such as Reverie, Racing and Fair Play. The Reverie EP is due to be released in the spring of 2018 on Wednesday Records. It was mastered by Paul Hammond.