SINCE the release of their 2017 debut album Invisible Ruler, alt-rockers Ember City have been making quite the impression in Savannah and beyond for their grunge-influenced riff rock. The band, which began as a five-piece but is now a trio, plays regularly in the area and is one of the truest examples of rock and roll that we have in Savannah.
The band is set to headline a show presented by AURA Fest on Fri., Jan. 31 at the Sentient Bean, and we caught up with bassist and vocalist Sarah Poole ahead of the gig.
How did you guys get together?
My husband is in the band with me, and I’d been doing solo gigs at the time in the Americana songwriting circuit. I just decided that I wanted to do a band—Nirvana and Hole were really big influences for me as a kid. I said, “I just want to do that for a while.” [laughs]
We started as a five-piece, and I literally just scoured through Savannah musicians to find bass players, drummers, etc. We’re a three-piece now, which is easier to manage [laughs]. Especially when you’re married to one of them! We’ve really been enjoying that three-person sound and are trying to fill out that vibe.
Do you remember the moment when you said, “Okay, I’m going to start a rock band.” Or was it more of a gradual urge?
It was always kind of in the back of my mind, but at the time I was also teaching Elementary music and felt like I was losing myself in that job a little bit. Doing the band was a way to put the focus back on a project, whereas the solo thing felt like I was just writing [songs] and then hanging out with it, you know? So the band just kind of allowed me to be more aggressive as far as writing a totally different type of music and getting a different kind of audience.
How is the writing different, then? Is this band more collaborative?
When I was just a solo writer, I’d just write on a guitar by myself and it’d happen all at the same time. With the band stuff, my husband Ryan and I co-write. He’ll come up with a cool guitar riff, and then we’ll expand and I come up with melody and lyrics. Ryan has a really good ear for rock guitar, whereas when I bring him a song it tends to be a little more singer/songwriter-y [laughs]. From there we bring it to our drummer and he’ll play with different sounds.
Now that you’re in the trio configuration, do you write and produce with that in mind? It can be difficult for bands sometimes when they expand sonically in a studio setting and then are limited to a smaller configuration on stage.
I love that you asked that, actually. With our last album, we did it as a five-piece and there was a lot of layering in that. There are a lot of little guitar effects that are hard to replicate live, especially as we moved down to a three piece. That’s actually been a big goal of mine as we release new music, to really try to keep an authentic experience between the live show and what you’re getting on the recording.
We’re totally writing with that in mind; maybe there’ll be some harmonies and stuff in the recordings, but not near as produced in that way.
You’re working on new music now and just released a new single. What should people know about the new music? Do you see an evolution happening musically as the band continues forward?
So, the last album was kind of a concept album about the manifestation of anxiety in different forms, and it was really kind of hard rock. But with the new stuff, I really want to try and be more melodic—like how Queens of the Stone Age are weird but melodic. The newest single, “Try Again Tomorrow,” is more in the vein of a band like Rival Sons. It’s raw, blues and southern rock-ish.
The next single we’ll be releasing is more of a melodic alternative rock vibe. There’ll still be a variety, but we’re definitely moving toward more melodic music. I really want to get people involved and do something that they can move to and nod their heads.