‘Daychange’ boasts a unique sound of rock/indie/surf/reggae that mirrors the excitement currently felt by the group
By Samantha Bambino
For the guys of Philly-based band Dry Reef, one emotion seems to be surpassing all others at the moment — excitement.
Longtime friends Patrick Gillen, Collin O’Donnell, Charles Minehart and Joseph Anderson are excited about their brand new, reggae-meets-rock sound. They’re excited about their first full-length album Daychange, which dropped last month. They’re also excited about life, and hope the positivity woven into their songs makes the dark day of a listener just a little brighter.
On the heels of the album’s release, The Times caught up with lead vocalist and bassist Gillen, who shared details on Dry Reef’s expansive influences, the creative process behind Daychange, what the band hopes to achieve through its music, and what fans can expect through 2019.
Gillen, O’Donnell (lead guitar), Minehart (vocals, guitar) and Anderson (drums) became fast friends during their high school years after discovering a shared passion for music.
“We all realized we have a really similar vision of music, which we realized was super valuable,” Gillen said.
The four started playing together for fun, but these jam sessions quickly shifted from a hobby to something more serious. Original songs began to take shape and a number of singles were recorded before they graduated high school. Though some time was spent apart as each pursued a college education, the band and the music never strayed from their minds.
“We still all really felt it when we got back,” Gillen said. “So we’ve been graduated since 2016–2017 and just going at it since then.”
According to Gillen, those four years separated were far from detrimental. In fact, Dry Reef wouldn’t be what it is today without them. When the band first formed, it drew heavily from the reggae influences of Bob Marley and Sublime. But while in college, each member had the opportunity to branch out and discover individual musical tastes such as Vampire Weekend, Talking Heads, Explosions in the Sky and Lotus.
“We all kind of found our own sound that we loved and, with that reggae foundation, brought it all together and created something entirely new,” Gillen said.
This unique blend of indie/surf/reggae/rock can be heard on Dry Reef’s debut full-length Daychange, which Gillen said the band was thrilled to introduce to the world.
“It was probably a six-month process from when we decided to record an album and started picking songs and writing new songs that we wanted to focus on,” he said, adding that prior to Daychange, the band would just record a track or two at a time. “We wanted to have songs that interacted with each other and figure out how to tell a story with the album. And I think without really trying, the story is just of excitement, of us just being really excited and feeling good about the future.”
The uplifting, summer vibe expressed on Daychange speaks to the fears and stresses of the band members’ fellow 20-somethings, and how it’s always possible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’m constantly living in an impending sense of doom, like the world will swallow me whole at any moment,” Gillen said. “I’ve been trying to let go of that. I feel like a lot of us feel this way, even if we can’t admit it.”
For Gillen and the guys of Dry Reef, music has always equated to positive thoughts, feelings and emotions. And that’s exactly what they want listeners to experience throughout Daychange.
“It’s been an escape from any other type of life that we might not be passionate about,” Gillen said. “It’s an escape for everyone, really. But I think we wanted to make everything really positive and uplifting because all of our favorite songs, shows and bands, they all made us feel happy at the end of the day. So that’s what we really love about music. We love just feeling good when we listen to it, and so that’s what we wanted to do.”
So far, Daychange has been met with an overwhelmingly positive response. The latest single “The Wash,” which Gillen said is a particular favorite of his, was recently featured on Radio 104.5’s New Music Discovery Show.
“That was one that we really pushed ourselves on and challenged ourselves,” he said. “We wanted to try something completely new and it worked. It ended up being a really fun song. We love playing it live and people love it, too.”
Just as their recorded music mimics the inspirational themes heard in the soundtrack of their youth, the guys of Dry Reef work to ensure every live show is full of energy — something they always craved when attending concerts as teens.
“I think from the start, even before we were playing our own songs, it was where we were able to let go personally. Everyone’s got rage and anger they have to let go of so I think since then, we’ve trained ourselves to be really energized on stage,” Gillen said. “Even the more mellow songs you hear on the album or other EPs, we just ramp them up and let it all out.”
Currently, Dry Reef is in the process of booking a tour, which will kick off in February and cover most of the East Coast. Until then, the band has one simple wish.
“Adding music to somebody’s story is really all we want to do,” Gillen said. “If our music’s there, it’s part of someone’s story and I think that’s the coolest thing. We’re going to put it out there into the great unknown, but it’s going to be a part of people. It’s going to be a part of their day. It’s going to be a part of their week and hopefully part of their life.” ••
Keep up with Dry Reef at dryreefband.com and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @DryReef.
Samantha Bambino can be reached at email@example.com