What’s old is new again with the Bucks-based rock band Vermillion.
The five-piece rose from the ashes of Brooke Shive and 45s, a long-running outfit that featured Shive’s vocals with songs primarily written by her father, Steve Shive, who also drummed for the group.
Since 2014, the collaboration has become even more of a family affair. Their new group, Vermillion, also features Brooke’s brother Ryan on guitar and sports a whole new set of songs with an updated sound.
Where the 45s leaned heavily on roots rock and Americana, Vermillion combines those elements with hard rock and a little bit of funk.
“The musical direction Brooke and I envisioned was getting further and further from where we started, and I wanted to go in a younger direction,” explained Steve.
They decided to start from scratch, also bringing in guitarist Tom Livecchi, who’d played in bands with Ryan previously.
With a strong stable of onstage chops and songwriting talent, it didn’t take long before the new group had enough songs ready for an EP and full-gig calendar.
This weekend, they’re at Puck Live in Doylestown, and will make their way down to Lower Bucks in November with a show at McStews in Levittown.
Vermillion’s five-song offering, available streaming and for sale on the band’s website, runs the spectrum from songs members brought in, to their first real collaborations.
Ryan points to “I Can’t Believe” as the first one the band worked on together.
The song has a slightly retro feel to start, with a rollicking backbeat and soaring vocals and slightly aching lyrics. It shifts back and forth between verses, however, with funky breaks and guitar solos, before transforming into a stomping rocker by the end.
“(Steve) came in with the original idea — just the chord pattern and a snippet of lyrcs, and we all did the instrumentation and added the verses,” he said. “It had a really different feel. We made it something that wouldn’t have happened with any of us on our own.”
Elsewhere, cuts like “I Don’t Want to Be Your Hero” succeeds with a bittersweet melody and dreamy guitars over a driving rhythm section, while “Ego Sway” brings a healthy helping of hard rock with a fuzzed-out, Zeppelin-worthy riff played alongside echoey guitars and taunting vocals.
If the release shows little more than promise right now, that’s fine, too — Steve refers to it as a “temporary EP.” The Shives made use of their home studio to record while they were writing, and pretty much made it a finished product only to satiate early demand for a recording.
Now, they’re looking forward to their first proper release — which, he predicts, will be
based mostly on the exact tracks they have out now.
Vermillion sent the EP as-is over to a producer with whom Steve and Brooke have previously worked. Of course, the band wants its first proper release to be “as good as we can possibly make it,” said Steve, and they planned to use their recordings so far as a starting point.
For the most part, however, said Steve, “The only criticism we got was that it could use a better mix.”
In the meantime, the band continues to rack up live dates. Along with Doylestown, the group plays everywhere from Wildwood, New Jersey in the summertime to the Sellersville Theater as an opener for national and regional touring acts.
They’ve already built up a strong catalog of original songs, often enough to fill a full three-set night when necessary with just a handful of cover tunes.
“It’s nice, because it’s a situation where all of us are bringing something to the table,” said Ryan. ••
Vermillion will perform at Puck Live, 1 Printer’s Alley in Doylestown, on Oct. 15. For information, visit vermillionmusic.com.