Empire Springs is a progressive rock band hailing from Birmingham, Alabama. I discovered them thanks to a friend, and when I researched the band for my most recent 3 Bands/Artists You Should Be Following, I was impressed. It was very exciting to have the opportunity to speak with vocalist/bassist Brett Bellomy.
First and foremost, thank you so much for doing this! And congratulations on the release of your debut album [The Luminescence, April 2022]
BB: Thank you so much, we really appreciate you taking the time to talk to us!
Let’s start with some basics. How/When did Empire Springs form?
BB: Empire Springs, in its original form, started in 2016 when I was in college. I was playing bass in a different band and the singer quit somewhat unexpectedly. He had been the primary songwriter in that band, so even though the rest of the band wanted to keep playing music we didn’t feel comfortable playing his songs without him. I happened to have a few songs written that we hadn’t worked on yet, so we decided to play my songs and have me take over vocals. We changed the name to Empire Springs and started writing/recording songs under that name. The band was just a studio project for several years, but after several member changes we started playing live shows around 2018.
Where did the band name come from?
BB: There’s a road sign between my hometown and my current city that reads “Empire” and “Blount Springs” for two separate counties. Because of the way the sign is formatted, it looks like Empire Springs is together. A few months after starting the new band I was driving between the cities with a friend of mine. They pointed out that “Empire Springs” would be a good band name and I liked the idea so the name stuck.
It really does work well. Your friend was right. So, what made you want to pursue a music career?
BB: I don’t remember a specific moment where I knew I wanted to pursue music professionally, but my parents really wanted me to go to college after high school. Music had been my primary elective/activity in high school (marching band, choir, etc) so when the time came to choose a major music was really the only thing I was interested in.
Who are your biggest influences?
BB: For me personally I would say bands like Coheed and Cambria and Saosin influences my vocals the most. For the band as a whole it’s a little harder– we all draw influence from different places. But if I had to pick one, I think our most agreed upon band is definitely The Contortionist.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your songs?
BB: That’s a really tough question– I think it largely depends on the songs. With our album The Luminescence, the songs came from a place of storytelling. We were really trying to make a cohesive collection of songs that work together to paint a bigger picture. Because of that, it’s not really rooted in personal experience as much. However we have some new songs (that I can’t talk too much about yet) that are all much more grounded in personal experience and my own perspective.
Ah, okay. I’m excited to hear new music from y’all! While on the subject of The Luminescence, can you tell me a little bit about the songwriting and recording process?
BB: For sure! I am the primary songwriter for the band, so most of the time I have a demo recorded that I’ll send to the band. Everyone tweaks their own parts separately, kinda building off of the skeleton of the demo. We’ll usually bounce ideas for the demo around via email and everyone kinda works on it remotely. Since we don’t all live in the same state, when the time comes to record there are some songs we’ve never actually played together in a room. At first I found that intimidating, but now I really enjoy the long distance collaboration– the process may seem a little disjointed, but it really works for us. There’s an element of trust that we have with each other that is really unique because of our circumstances.
I found there to be a lot of complexity throughout the album, and I love the balance of mellow and heavy, clean vs. harsh vocals. Has anyone in the band studied composition? That may be a badly worded question, but I am amazed at how a mind must work to put music together like that.
BB: I really appreciate that! That’s definitely one thing I think we excel at, and we’ve definitely worked hard to be able to balance those things. Three of the four members have music degrees, and our keyboardist Chadwick actually has two– one in piano performance and one in composition. Even though my degree wasn’t specifically in composition, being the songwriter for our band has forced me to study the songs and bands I like very seriously so I can better understand my role.
Well, that answers my next question. I wanted to say that the interlude was beautiful and ask who the pianist was.
BB: Chadwick wrote that piece. He also wrote the back half of our song “Khan” (when the piano and orchestra takes over). He’s very talented at knowing how to write and arrange for piano and orchestra, so we try to take advantage of that when we can.
For my own personal curiosity, what is the story behind “Drawing Lines”? (That was one of my favorite tracks.)
BB: “Drawing Lines” was actually the first song I ever wrote for Empire Springs. When I decided to take over being the singer, it was the first demo I presented to the band. Because the song is unusually personal for me, I usually try to stay somewhat vague when explaining its meaning. But to speak broadly, I was at an impasse in my life. The direction I felt like I should move would put me outside my comfort zone, and carried a lot of uncertainty with it. I struggled with it a lot, but ultimately it ended up being a really good thing for my life and mental health. “Drawing Lines” for me is a personal testament to that point in my life, but I think it could be interpreted differently for others. Either way I’m thankful that you and others connect with it.
I love when songs are personal to the artist, yet presented in a manner in which everyone listening can find some part they connect with.
You’ve teased a little during this interview, so I’ll ask outright – What’s next for Empire Springs?
BB: I hinted at it earlier, but we are working on some new music that I am really excited about. Hopefully some tours soon too? We are really trying to hit the ground running next year, so hopefully we’ll be busy!
Anything else you want your fans to know?
BB: I would just like to say thank you to anyone who has ever supported us. Whether that’s listening to our music or coming out to a show– It’s honestly still crazy to me that anyone would care about the songs I write, so I truly don’t take it for granted.
And lastly, where can my readers find out more about Empire Springs and get their hands on the music?
BB: We’re on all of the typical social media platforms so feel free to follow us there. As far as music goes, we’re on all the big streaming platforms as well as Bandcamp!
As you can see, Empire Springs is gearing up for an exciting 2023! I highly suggest checking them out (if you haven’t already), snagging yourself a copy of The Luminescence, and getting ready for what’s next!