MusicA new hope
Viernes CD release party
8 p.m. Thursday, June 10
This year marks the onset of a major gold rush for Florida indie rock. Precipitated largely by the moves of tastemaking Brooklyn label Kanine Records, which has thirstily scooped up Sunshine State buzz bands like Surfer Blood and Blind Man’s Colour, this regional wave is about to include Orlando experimental act Viernes in a big way.
After their song “Swimmer’s Ear” (off the Sunny/Thirsty 7-inch split with Blind Man’s Colour) garnered high praise last year from Pitchfork and other notable publications, the duo became Orlando’s top entry into the giddy sweepstakes, and the national release of their debut album, Sinister Devices, has become a widely anticipated affair.
Although most kindred in sound to label mates Blind Man’s Colour, Viernes is the most mature and abstract of the emerging Florida class. “We kind of buddied up with them in the beginning because they were big fans of ours, and I was first and foremost a big fan of theirs,” says band member Alberto Hernandez. The relationship led to the Sunny/Thirsty collaboration and perked some influential ears.
Citing works like My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless, Liars’ Drum’s Not Dead and William Basinski’s Disintegration Loops as inspirations, Viernes bring a sophisticated chamber approach to their experimental soundscapes, creating sonic reverie that exists somewhere between states of consciousness. More astral projections than conventional songs, the complex, zero-gravity compositions on Sinister Devices are crafted with a colorful palette, a flair for texture and an eternity of unfolding detail.
As suggested by their Spanish moniker – which indicates the day they convened each week – the band started out as just a Friday afternoon collaboration between longtime friends Hernandez, 26, and multi-instrumentalist Sean Moore, 28.
“Once the work week ended on Fridays, by 3 p.m. we were off and Alberto would come over,” says Moore.
“From 3:30, I’d go to the bank and be over there at 4 and get home by, like, 6:30 to have dinner with my wife,” adds Hernandez.
Although seemingly convenient, this routine also hints at their busy personal lives and why it seemed unlikely that Viernes would gain any real momentum whatsoever. Despite their active scene status, both men have rather steady, traditional realities: Moore is engaged and works as an orchestra director for an area private school, while Hernandez is married and manages an Altamonte Springs dental lab.
The classically trained Moore is an established and highly esteemed musician in the local experimental scene and is known for his prolific work as a solo artist and producer, as well as his membership in well-known acts like Dodger, Pardon My Carbon and Mumpsy among countless others. Hernandez also plays in the Art Fight, Young Brother and Father Figure.
But in truth, Viernes began simply as a recording project. “We didn’t start this band to play out at shows,” says Hernandez. “We started it to record on Fridays.” And recording is something they take seriously, particularly the seasoned Moore, who took the lead on the production of Sinister Devices.
“Most of my college days – it was a very solitary thing for me,” says Moore. “It was mainly just figuring out how to use the studio as an instrument. I spent most of my free time doing that. And I think that’s where I began to kind of put things together and realize that, hey, I might have a knack for this. And I’ve kind of incorporated that aspect with almost every group I’ve been involved in, including Viernes – being able to lend whatever recording services I can and just using my home studio as the place to make it happen.”
Referencing landmark albums like Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the always ambitious Moore says, “We want our record to be something that people can discover the day it comes out, 10 years from now, 40 years from now or a hundred years from now. I want it to be long-lasting.”
But whatever insular intentions they may have had, Viernes is now a blinking signal in the public consciousness, and they’re emerging to a national audience thanks to some high-profile blog hype.
“It sucks,” says Hernandez. “It’s crazy when all these things start happening. You start to feel bad because you know there’s other people working hard that deserve it just as much as you do. It’s funny, too, because it becomes ugly. This is just being honest, but you start to see people change too, which sucks. A lot of the people started coming out of the shadows, bands that we never heard of that never even gave a fuck about us or what we do, and probably still don’t.”
More importantly, timing and location has positioned Viernes to be one of the color-bearers for the long-awaited and finally surging Florida tide.
“It’s cool that it’s a regional thing happening, for sure,” says Moore. “I know we can all agree it’s long overdue. It makes me really proud to know that we’re gonna represent Florida and we’re gonna try to do it the best way we can. If people look to us as a beacon or a door that can open for other people, I’m all for that. I think the United States is long overdue for another cultural beacon of significance. Why not, man, you know?”