FRANTIC BREAKBEATS that feel like they are flying apart at the seams, guitar riffs that run in gritty ambient loops, and vocals that carve the calculated chaos with an ethereal ease reminiscent of an early Ryan Adams: this is the sound that makes up Savannah's burgeoning indie/shoegaze trio, Whaleboat.
“It’s like being in a relationship,” said lead singer and bassist Brent Collins of his bandmates, drummer Sean Moloney and guitarist Blake Yokeley. “We just have this chemistry and these songs that have been around for a long time, but that we still push to play and evolve.”
Like many local bands, Whaleboat has seen multiple iterations since Collins founded the band in 2011, but nearly a decade later, Collins feels like he has finally hit the sweet spot.
“As cliché as it sounds, we’re like a tripod. One brain. I can’t imagine playing with anyone else,” explained Collins. “We all have our different musical influences, but it all just comes together and works.”
It would be easy to fixate on the band’s obvious indie/alt-rock style, but that would be a disservice to the trio’s broad and eclectic soundscape that transforms with each song. While maintaining a congruent thread preserved by an anti-rhapsodic lyrical spread, influences of My Bloody Valentine and U2 fit like five fingers in a single glove.
With roughly 20 songs that have matured over the course of ten years, a palpable evolution exists in Whaleboat’s discography. From their debut single “Socialist” in 2013, to EPs Convoys in 2014 and later Lost at Sea (2020), there’s now more to the band than just solid lyrics and adeptly exercised mechanics. Thanks to Yokely, Whalboat’s production easily rivals their local counterparts and pelts them into a league above their own.
“We are so lucky to have an engineer in the band who we can sit with and who can actually record our music,” said Collins. “We are just so lucky to have him in the band not only as an engineer, but as one of the best guitarists I know.”
This month, the trio released the dual single, “Sunburst” and “Darkside.”
“That song came quickly,” recalls Moloney. “Brent recorded it during quarantine on a drum machine and bass at his house, and when he sent it to me and Blake, we just tapped in and did our thing. Really, writing songs in general is fast for us.”
According to Moloney, while quarantine has granted the band an extended period for revelation, it didn’t really change the way they write music.
“Usually, Brent comes with a song and then we just dissect it and re-write it,” explained Moloney.
Dissection is a pretty accurate way to describe the band’s process from conception to single because there is a particular anatomy to their music: mellifluous openings, dramatic shifts, streamlined melodies, and lyrics that wrenchingly go from fragile to violent shivers, all in the time it takes to make it to the pre-chorus.
In their latest singles, Whaleboat has found a symphonically lo-fi sound that feels like an extension of one of the band’s favorite songs to play, “Night Swimming” (2014).
“‘Night Swimming’ is my favorite song to play. It gets me all emotional,” said Yokeley. “But I really enjoy playing all of our songs. We just wouldn’t play something that we all don’t feel.”
While the band can’t tour quite yet due to Covid-19, they have played smaller shows at The Rail Pub and will play at the 5th Annual Rockin’ for the Vets on Saturday, Dec. 12 at The Wormhole, which raises money for Savannah’s Tiny House Project for homeless veterans. They also have a livestream in the works with a visual component that they are preparing to launch early next year.