Looming plays Mr. Smalls Oct. 17 | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Looming plays Mr. Smalls Oct. 17

“We wrote the record through Google Docs.”

Looming’s Seed is a beautiful, intimate rock voyage of longing and personal confrontation. Beautiful harmonies and catchy hooks draw you into the brooding, moody instrumentals. It’s pretty but dark, carefully produced to sound tight but raw. Vocalist and bassist Jessica Knight’s captivating, unique voice and timbre are so emotive. As she belts, “What is it like to feel good again?” on the record’s title track, goosebumps creep up my arms every time. 

Looming began in Springfield, Ill., in 2013, but the band is now split between Springfield (guitarists Nick DeMarco and Mitch Baker) and Pittsburgh (guitarist/keys player Cassie Staub, drummer Brandon Carnes, vocalist/bassist Knight). As a result, Looming is no stranger to distance. Seed was recorded while Knight was living in Austin, Texas, and Brandon Carnes had just moved to Braddock. 

CP chatted with Knight on the phone, as the band hunkered down in Springfield to practice for its upcoming tour.

“We wrote the record through Google Docs and demo recordings and videos,” explains Knight. “[Carnes would] send me songs, and I’d write lyrics to them, just listening to them over and over on the bus to the work and thinking about them all day.” 

“I had this shitty USB Rock Band video-game microphone that I would plug into my laptop to record all my vocal demos. To signify the parts that weren’t me, I’d just sing them and pitch-shift my voice to reflect who would be singing it,” laughs Knight. “It sounded absolutely ridiculous, but I’d be like, ‘You get what I’m saying, right!?’” 

When the record began to come together, band members took turns recording in Carnes’ studio, since it was hard for all to get off work at the same time. “A lot of us didn’t get to see each other during the process,” says Knight. “As we practiced for the release show, and now for tour, it’s some of the first times we got to play the songs together in a room.” 

Seed, recorded and produced by Carnes, is catchy and artfully constructed, but the lyrical themes are heavy. 

“It was [written during] the first time I’d moved to a different part of the country,” says Knight. “Seed is that feeling where I know I’m moving forward, but the current part of the process is really hard. You love where you are, but you also miss home, but you also know that home will never be the same now that you left once. You have this idea that whenever you move, everything will be different, and you’ll be happy all the time. But once you settle in, you realize that some of those [unhappy] feelings are things you need to resolve that you’ve been avoiding.” 

But as Carnes and Knight sing in gentle harmony on album-closer “Lace,” “I never thought you’d say goodbye / Forevermore your heart beats through mine,” it makes you think that maybe resolution doesn’t have to mean erasure of the past. Maybe it’s about bringing those experiences with you on your next journey. 

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