Photo Credit: Natalie Curry Photography
One of the things I romanticized thanks to years of watching ‘The Wonder Years’ and Nick at Nite was a neighborhood where you were friends with those who lived next door. Where I grew up wasn’t the best of places so befriending neighbors could be a risk, which is why I thought it so sweet when I found out the duo that makes up The Neighborly started as well, neighbors. That’s where we started this back and forth and as things unraveled, we got into what they’ve learned since their 2019 debut, haunting music, love, and more!
Kendra: Now you two were legit neighbors before partnering up. What sort of led to you two working together, and were each of you pursuing music on your own before then?
The Neighborly: A mutual friend introduced us and then we ended up being neighbors on the same block a few months later. Brock asked me to sing with him at a fundraiser for our local food pantry and we really enjoyed working together and thought our voices blended very uniquely. We actually both had musical pursuits earlier in our lives but met in the middle of our lives where Arissa wasn’t pursuing music anymore but Brock was an arts director with a couple of side music projects.
Kendra: Listening to the music you dropped back in 2019 compared to your debut EP, you went from this sort of sweet folk duo to this sultry Americana moment. What pushed you two in this new direction of sorts over the past few years?
The Neighborly: We are actually not a very style-specific band, we just like to explore a lot of genres within the Americana genre. When we play out we are simple, acoustic, and stripped down and that is what our first recordings reflected but when we got to the studio with these particular songs Brock wrote, they were sonically shaped by the studio musicians we worked with and reflected the subject matter of the songs. We also made an album that we would like to listen to as we were heavily influenced by bands in our early lives that have had that same sound.
Kendra: Also, what are some lessons you learned along the way in making your self-titled EP debut that you’ve mentally noted for the next record?
The Neighborly: We recorded the EP in bits and pieces over a long period of time, it wasn’t recorded all at once. Next time we will definitely not do that and we will record it all at once. As a duo, it’s very challenging to record your vocals together because we lose a lot of natural blending and timing of our voices if we have to cut vocals separately. But it’s also not very easy to record voices at the same time because the takes aren’t very clean. After all, you have vocal bleed unless you have two separate vocal rooms. We are still working on figuring out the best way to do that for the next album.
Kendra: Listening to “Lights Go Down” felt a little spooky and reminded me of those horror films set in the depths of the south. However, if you had to place a song off of ‘The Neighborly’ in a recent film, which song and movie would you pair together – and why?
Arissa May: It’s funny that you heard that and thank you for noticing that. It does have a haunting feel and is deep in story and legacy as it was written from a conversation with an older woman with a warning, similar to the sayings of the older generation along the lines of “nothing good happens after midnight.”
Interestingly, the song actually has been picked up by a pilot TV series called ‘Diakonia’ which explores the haunting supernatural. I think “Real Love” would have fit well with ‘A Star is Born.’ A gutsy, sassy, and realistic love song would go well with that storyline. Brock thinks “Lift You Up” would go well with ‘Life is Beautiful’, in which the father carries the weight of the terrible state of the world for his son.
Kendra: Another song I liked was “Real Love.” Would love to know what couples from your lives inspired this one?
The Neighborly: Speaking of “Real Love”, that was an attempt at writing a love song making a case for love that we don’t hear much. It’s based on the concept that love isn’t cheap, but it’s three-dimensional, there’s sacrifice, and there are things that aren’t all flowers and romance. We have seen that in people like our parents and grandparents who have been in long-term relationships. Also, both Brock and I have been married to our spouses for a long time so we were trying to write a love song that we related to at this stage of our lives.
Kendra: Time for a side note – with it being summer, I’d love to know your go-to summer anthem? Like what song must you listen to when the weather is perfect and the sun is out?
Arissa May: Brock’s song is “Summer of 69”, and mine is “Wildfire” by John Mayer. Actually, that whole album makes me feel like summer!
Kendra: Lastly, with ‘The Neighborly’ out now, what are your plans moving forward? We talked a bit about new music, but what about performances soon?
The Neighborly: Speaking of summer songs, we are close to releasing a summer single! We are always writing new material, whether its originals or creating our unique mashups. We will likely release more acoustic-style music that you are likely to hear from us when you hear us live. We have a full schedule with local venues, fundraisers, art walks, summer concert series, and a special neighborhood backyard show that we are going to film and release in July or August.