Adventures' new record, Supersonic Home, is full of wistfulness and longing, heartache and self-aware admissions. Musically, it worships at the altar of fuzzed-out '90s rock and is rife with melody and urgent harmonies.
The album artwork, a swirl of blues and purples, looks like something you might find on a long-lost Superchunk or Helium record. Listening to Supersonic Home, you might never suspect that four of the band's six members are also part of hardcore band Code Orange, whose last release, I Am King, was described breathlessly by some reviewers as "nihilistic horror" and "playing on every ounce of rage you've ever known."
It's not strange that the same group of people should enjoy a wide range of music, or express emotional range. But it is rare for two bands with so many shared members to confidently create such different musical atmospheres.
"We try to keep it as separate as we can, otherwise it wouldn't make sense," explains Reba Meyers, who plays guitar and sings in both bands. "That's why it's nice to have Adventures: We have a whole separate outlet for that side of our interests."
Some of those '90s influences do bleed into both bands — that last Code Orange record had moments that sounded like The Jesus and Mary Chain and Smashing Pumpkins. "It's the same people, so even if it's not [in] the actual music, ... the ideas of, like, shoegaze bands come into Code Orange," Meyers admits. But, she adds, "If it all starts to blend together, then it just becomes confusing."
The separation, unsurprisingly, shows up in performance as well. While Meyers, for one, rocks out with an air of unyielding, firmly planted confidence in the more muscular Code Orange, her presence in Adventures, while still lively, is suggestive of how she comes across in conversation: unassuming but direct, poised and a little stoic.
The rest of the band members show a similar adaptable self-assurance, which is easy to attribute to the fact that, while none of them is over 22, they've been at this for while. Code Orange (or Code Orange Kids, as they have been known in the past) came together in ninth grade. Meyers, drummer Jami Morgan and bassist Joe Goldman (along with guitarist Eric Balderose) started out playing street punk, eventually progressing to hardcore, thanks to the influence of other, older bands in the Pittsburgh punk and hardcore scene. As they gained momentum — around the end of high school — the members began developing Adventures as a separate outlet. "Originally, it was us four, pretty much," recalls Meyers. "We had a bunch of musical interests and were starting to get into indie and emo and stuff like that."
In this case, too, older friends introduced the members to new, older music: Meyers cites Mineral, Archers of Loaf and Dinosaur Jr. as influences. Meyers, Morgan and Goldman were joined by singer/keyboardist Kimi Hanauer and guitarist Dominic Landolina, forming Adventures. The addition of Hanauer was particularly key.
"She's been our best friend from the beginning, we've always been really close," Meyers says. Hanauer — who takes care of all of the band's artwork — is currently in art school in Baltimore, which sometimes makes things logistically complex (Landolina is also currently in school, but a little closer, at Point Park University). "With the new LP, [Hanauer] happened to be here at the time we were writing it, so we wrote a lot more together. We're really good at playing vocal stuff off of each other; I think we work really well together."
Each band scratches a different musical itch for listeners and band members alike: "Code Orange is all the aggression and it gets a lot weirder ... we're able to experiment with a lot more," Meyers says. "The [hardcore] community that Code Orange is in is super important to me and to all of us. It's where we feel we can fit." Code Orange takes precedence over Adventures, when it comes to scheduling, but — though the hardcore scene is where Meyers' heart is — she'd hate to pick between the two. "I personally really enjoy writing [music in Adventures]. In a way it's a little easier, because the songs are classically structured in a rock sense. It's just more fun that way."
And though Code Orange is the better-known band, Adventures is catching up. After releasing a couple of 7-inches on No Sleep Records, the band decided to put Supersonic Home out on Run for Cover Records, which is also home to bands like Mewithoutyou and Whirr. "No Sleep has been really nice and cool to us, we kind of just wanted to step it up a little bit," Meyers says. "[Run for Cover has] a whole way of doing it that kids really connect to, with videos and stuff like that. They seem to get it." Aside from that kind of savvy label support, Meyer's attributes Adventures' growing fan base to the fact that many listeners find the music nostalgic, and just as many relate to the record's abundant (but never overpowering) angst. But appealing to a wider audience is still, at least a little bit, beside the point.
"It's really cool to see kids, people from the Internet, our friends, Kimi's friends from the art world. When people show up, it's like, 'This is awesome, this is super cool,'" Meyers says, "[But] to me, it still always feels like playing music with my friends."