Charly Bliss

One of my favorite albums of the year thus far (if not my favorite) has been Guppy, the full length debut from New York power pop band Charly Bliss.  I was very happy to recently have the chance to tell them as much and find out a little more about the foursome comprised of siblings Eva (vocals / guitar) and Sam (drums) Hendricks, along with Spencer Fox (guitar) and Dan Shure (bass) for our latest FMQB SubModern Session.  They also recorded a live performance of some of the infectiously catchy songs from said album, which you can listen to here.
FMQB:  Let’s talk about how you formed the band a bit.  About a year or so ago I spoke to Tokyo Police Club and they were telling me about their opening band who had met at one of their shows.  I just kind of realized as I was prepping for this interview, that was you!
Eva Hendricks:  Yes!  When I was 15, Dan and I went to see Tokyo Police Club at Webster Hall and I met Spencer in the line outside.  He was drunk. {laughs}  That’s so funny!

FMQB:  It must have been a cool, full circle experience to be opening for them.

Spencer Fox:  It was insane!

EH:  Yeah, nothing like that!  We’ve been lucky enough to have a couple of experiences like that – bands that meant so much to us growing up, that now we’re getting to play with, which is really cool.  But Tokyo Police Club was just one of the biggest ones, especially because we met that night.  And then we’re playing with Death Cab For Cutie in a month, and that’s like all I listened to between the ages of 13 and 18, because Sam turned me on to them.  So, that’s crazy!

FMQB:  Was that the older sibling relationship, like you were always getting music from Sam?

Sam Hendricks:  For sure!  And vice versa too.  I think I definitely got some Pop Punk and Emo from Eva.   
EH:  NOOO!!!!  

SH:  We won’t go there.

EH:  At that point in my life, yes, but now I feel like we have very reciprocal relationship.
SH:  Totally!  I kind of like didn’t listen to anything but what I knew for a good five years from ages of like 18 to 24.  I just had what I had and I liked it and that’s all that I listened to.  And then Eva and the other guys in the bands definitely showed me a lot of new music and it was like "there is good music being made that’s not from the ’90s."

FMQB:  There is a very ’90s aesthetic to your band.  Sam, are you the guiding force of that?

SH:  Well, we’ve been a band a couple years now and where we started sounded very different from where it is now.  It was definitely more of a folky…   

EH:  Ehhh, we don’t need to get into it.  {laughs} 

SH:  My point is just through writing all together we found that we all really like big guitars and big sounding songs with really catchy choruses and stuff.  That’s the late ’90s, like catchy guitar-driven rock.  I think we just kind of bonded over that.

EH:  Yeah, I think for a long time we felt like we all had really different taste in music, like what is the thing that we all agree on?  And it took us so long to realize that.  And I feel like even pop music and not shying away from catchy melody was such a big revelation for us as a band, realizing that’s probably what we do best.  But I feel like at the time, when we were mostly making music in Brooklyn, that wasn’t the cool thing.  It was much cooler to be… cool.

SF:  Heavy and brooding and ethereal. 

FMQB:  You can’t worry about what’s cool.

SF:  We learned that lesson for sure.  It’s an important one.

EH:  It’s funny though because immediately things started to fall into place so much better once we were just like, oh yeah…

SF:  I feel like not being cool somehow made us cool in people’s eyes.

FMQB:  I sort of got the vibe from some things that I read that Sam and Eva were hesitant to play music together because it was something that your parents always wanted. 

EH:  Yeah, totally!  {laughs}

SH:  Oh man, yeah.  Growing up, I played drums and Eva sang, so it was like, "Perfect, you should play together."  But it’s one of those things, like you said, when your parents want it and expect it, it becomes the last thing you’d ever want to do. 

EH:  Especially because your parents are supposed to not want you to be in a band, they’re supposed to not want you to pursue music.  It made it so uncool.  It was supposed to be this cool thing, but they loved it so much, it was like, "No, we’ll never ever ever do it."

SH:  They’re happy now.

EH:  They’re so happy!  They come to every show!

SF:  They came to Austin for SXSW and they live in Connecticut. 

Dan Shure:  And they’re coming to Wales.

EH:  Our mom is coming to Wales! {laughs} 

SH:  They’re great by the way!

EH:  They’re the best.  And she’s not just coming for the show, let it be known.  But yeah, they’re into it. 

FMQB:  So, let’s talk about the album, Guppy.  Kind of a long time in the works, and you actually made it twice?

EH:  Yeah, we were working on it for a really long time.  I guess, the first time we recorded it, we basically set a goal for ourselves.  We just wanted to make an album.  We weren’t signed yet and we just had to keep moving, no matter what.  We happened to be doing all this during mine and Spencer’s senior year of college and we went into the studio a week after graduation.  You don’t ever want to go into a studio with just like, "here are the ten songs we’ve written."  You ideally want to write 15 or 20 songs and these are the best 10 or whatever.  I don’t think we knew yet at that point what kind of band we wanted to be.  Even though the songs were getting closer, and there are still some songs from that iteration of the album that made it on the second time, I feel like we didn’t know going in what we wanted from the record.  We were very like, "It’s a garage rock record, I don’t know."  And then we heard it back and that was such an amazing moment for us.  We were like, "No, we’re a Pop Rock band!"  These songs needed to have that Pop production of like feeling super full and really just fun, that unnamable whatever.  We always say they should sound like you’re in the car with the windows down, screaming along with your friends.  That’s what it should sound like, not heavy or whatever.  Well, heavy in some ways, but…  So when we went to re-record it, we had a much better sense of what we wanted and also we had started to write a bunch of new songs.  We re-wrote half of the record. 

FMQB:  It sounds like that was a really big self-revelatory moment and this album couldn’t exist without that first version. 

SH:  Totally.  A lot of people think it must’ve been awful to re-record it.  And yeah, I mean that was a really difficult decision to make, but honestly I think it’s the best thing that could’ve possibly happened to us. 

EH:  I totally agree.

SH:  As songwriters working together, we got a lot closer.  We found a sound that we were still kind of searching for at the time.  Now we really feel like this is us, this is our band.  We turned it into a positive.

FMQB:  One of the most distinctive parts of that sound are Eva’s vocals, which could be described at times as bubbly, but I feel like maybe you’re using your voice as a mask for some darker topics.

EH:  Totally.  I think a lot of the time the saddest or meanest things that I say lyrically on the record are on the happiest sounding songs.  I really like that contrast.  When I’m listening to music personally, I’m just a lyrics freak.  I love totally reading all lyrics and it’s the first thing I hear in a song.  So I feel like I’m always trying to play with that contrast of never going all the way in one direction.  I think that my voice, cause there are times on the record where I sound like a little kid or something, and I kind of like to use that when I’m saying really disturbing stuff. 

Find out more about Charly Bliss at or and listen to their SubModern Session performances of "Percolator," "Glitter," "Black Hole," and "Gatorade" right here.

By Josh T. Landow