Fall is here and that means it’s time for some soul-warming food. Head to Bourbon & Branch on Oct. 15th for Dine Out for the Environment and fill up on local fare, local brews, AND see some great music from the Eternal Summers. You’ll feel like a champ, especially because 30% of your bill will be donated back to Clean Air Council.
Sometimes it’s difficult to wake up from the perfect dream. So why wake up? Draw your mind’s curtains and slip into a constant daydream with Suburban Living. This bedroom project-turned-band pushes pop to its most ethereal forms. Abundant with hypnotic guitar melodies and luxurious textures, Suburban Living’s full-bodied sound is mesmerizing. Yet despite its presentation, the band’s origin is surprisingly simple: a bedroom, a drum machine, and Wesley Bunch.
Bunch began writing and producing music while enrolled in a Virginia community college. The resulting EP titled “Cooper’s Dream” would eventually catalyze the existence of Suburban Living. (Fun fact: the average dream lasts 5 to 45 minutes. This dream lasts a blissful 15.) Bunch wasted no time by releasing “Cooper’s Dream” a month after graduation. Comparisons to ‘80s pop production are irresistible. The EP boasts thumping drum machines, reverb-soaked guitars, and ambient synths. Bunch repurposes ‘80s sounds to fit contemporary arrangements, although his genuine artistry outshines trendy production techniques. Skillful guitar lines accompany sensuous vocals. The resulting sound is substantial, with deep dreamy vibes.
In 2013 Bunch started experimenting with samples, styles, and songwriting. These experiments became a 7” titled “Always Eyes”, which serves as evidence of a slow transition from solo project to band. “Always Eyes” builds upon “Cooper’s Dream” with prolific use of synths and live drums. Bunch’s nostalgic motifs melt into serious tones.
This year Suburban Living teamed up with NYC-based independent label PaperCup Music to release a self-titled full-length album. The release has a definitive “full band” sound, distancing itself from solo project beginnings. Slight impressions of DIIV and Wild Nothing come to mind, although the most obvious comparison is to an ‘80s movie soundtrack. In a way, this record can be consumed as a personal soundtrack. The lyrics outline romantic subplots that are both poignant and relatable. Bunch finds a way to mix real emotion into danceable dream pop songs.
Bunch is currently working with producer Jeff Zeigler (Nothing, Sunny Day in Glasgow, and The War on Drugs). This partnership will be showcased in a highly anticipated batch of new material. We caught up with Wesley Bunch about Suburban Living, along with other important issues like Drake, Twin Peaks, and NASCAR.
ALEX PIRRO: Suburban Living is a great band name. It implies tongue-in-cheek wholesomeness – was this an intentional reflection of your music?
WESLEY BUNCH: Thanks! When I first started Suburban Living, I was living in the suburbs of Virginia Beach and that’s where the name came from. I wanted to kinda poke fun at “the ‘burbs” with the name, because I totally don’t identify with that culture & have no desire to live there, especially after moving to Philadelphia.
ALEX: Who do you think are the most influential dream pop artists?
BUNCH: It’s a pretty obvious answer, but The Cure really did change it all. Even their non-dreamy stuff from the late 70s was totally rad. Robert Smith hardly ever used his chorus pedal early in their career. That shit ruled. Cocteau Twins killed it too. So many good bands.
ALEX: In reference to Suburban Living’s sound, what musical comparisons do you enjoy hearing?
BUNCH: A lot of people were comparing “Suburban Living” to darkwave post-punk bands and that was cool, because I didn’t think the record was that gritty sounding. I definitely wanted to write a “dark” sounding record, but I must of overdone it a little without thinking haha. Oh well, I’ll take it.
ALEX: Since you DJ around Philly a lot, what are your go-to dance tracks?
BUNCH: Can’t reveal all my secret weapons but here’s a few:
The Knack – “My Sharona” ← (surprisingly goes over really well every time)
ALEX: What is the oddest gig you have ever played?
BUNCH: A few years ago we were on tour and some awesome friends offered us a last minute house show in this college town, so I thought “why not?” Turned out this was a frat house fundraiser show where all the door money was being donated to the “throwing-raging-parties fund”. Almost all the bands playing that night were living at the frat house, but I just kinda sucked up the weird vibes and played. To make a long story short, these drunk frat dudes wanted to use our drum set and I wasn’t comfortable with it (again, they were super drunk and hostile). They proceeded to get in my face and threatened to beat us up after I declined. I remember we were all running up basement steps with gear trying to get the fuck out of there as fast as we could. One of them called me a “Rick Moranis looking motherfucker”. So funny. I wasn’t even insulted, Rick Moranis is a super handsome dude. Good times.
ALEX: Who is your favorite Philly band of right now?
ALEX: How does it feel to work with Jeff Zeigler (Nothing, A Sunny Day in Glasgow, The War on Drugs) on your new tracks?
BUNCH: It’s been pretty incredible. Jeff and I have a similar taste in music so he really understands what sound Suburban Living is going for which streamlines the recording process. We’ll finish a session and be amazed at how much we got done in a certain amount of time. When I told some of my Philly friends that we were recording with Jeff, the common response was “Oh yeah that makes total sense, Jeff is perfect for you guys”.
ALEX: What was the inspiration behind the video for “New Strings”? The video seems like a bad trip. (P.S. The death cake was a nice touch)
BUNCH: Haha! Thanks! It was this collaboration between myself and my friend Arielle Green, who went to school in New York City. She found the location and we bounced ideas back and forth. When it comes to music videos, I like to get really weird and pull images from dreams or things I see and find interesting. I think she just took some of my ideas and amplified them by 100.
ALEX: What role did Twin Peaks play in the writing of the “Cooper’s Dream” EP?
BUNCH: Very little. There’s nothing lyrically about Twin Peaks on that EP, haha. It was just something I had on in the background as I was writing. It created more of a vibe than a skeleton. I honestly didn’t know what to call the EP or the title track, so while brainstorming I thought: “I’ve literally had Twin Peaks on in the background while recording demos for all these songs”. I looked at one of the episodes and it was “Cooper’s Dream” so that just kinda stuck. It’s a hat tip to the show. Now there’s bands like, making Twin Peaks themed records and sometimes Suburban Living gets lumped in. It’s a total misconception.
ALEX: If you could rewrite a score of a Brat Pack film, which one would it be?
BUNCH: The Breakfast Club. Predictable, but come on. That movie rules.
ALEX: What is the biggest “Philadelphia stereotype” that you have seen in person?
BUNCH: How intense Eagles fans are. Before moving here people would tell me “watch out for the Eagles fans, they’re super intense.” I had my windows open during a game last year and heard so many different houses next to me yelling at their TVs. It also feels like the whole attitude of the people in the city changes based on if they’re doing well or not. It’s wild.
ALEX: The Meek Mill vs. Drake beef has heated up recently, and on May 22nd you tweeted “who’s tryna have an indie rock beef with Suburban Living”…do you think you could hold your own against Drake?
BUNCH: This question rules. After seeing how Meek kinda got ripped apart, I don’t know if I could hold my own in a beef with Drake. I’m a Virgo and super passive. Oh well, maybe one day someone will come at us. That’d be tight.
ALEX: Are you a fan of NASCAR? How was visiting Charlotte Motor Speedway?
BUNCH: I love going to the races, but I don’t really watch it on TV. I went to Charlotte Motor Speedway because my dad and brother are big NASCAR fans and they were celebrating my brother’s birthday. My good friend from Virginia gets really into it as well. I’m just gonna say – don’t knock it till you try it. Everyone is super chill and just drinks beer all day and fake argues about what driver is better. No one really stereotypes anyone cause my style is the complete opposite of a NASCAR fan’s style & I had no problem making new friends. I guarantee more confrontation happens at Coachella than a NASCAR race.
Novelist Florence King, once aptly articulated, “The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners.” With this in mind, we urge you to attend quizzo this evening, and every Monday evening around 8PM, with your plutonic compatriots and chums. We will not be held responsible for your resulting dry spell, be you witty woman or her casualty.
Our cozy restaurant offers a unique quizzo experience with all the bells and whistles, including but not limited to: laughs, opportunities to augment the breadth of your knowledge base, lots of beer and good snacks, cheers and jeers, and prizes.
We look forward to quizzing you.
Tell us some of you favorite Mac N’ Cheese recipes or just let your imagination run wild and suggest something completely off the wall that you’d always hoped a restaurant would serve. Send us your recipes or just suggestions by going to our Facebook Page. Here are some of our Hopefuls:
BBQ Pulled Chicken Mac N Cheese
Smoked Brisket Mac N Cheese
Butternut Squash with Fried Sage Mac N Cheese
Chipotle Mac N Cheese
Roasted Tomato and Basil Mac N Cheese
Chili Mac N Cheese with Red Beans
Smoked Gouda and House Bacon Mac N Cheese
Bang Bang Chicken Mac N Cheese
Pimento Cheese Mac N Cheese with Roasted Tomatoes
Bechamel and Spinach Mac N Cheese
Quiche Lorraine Mac N Cheese
Tex Mex Taco Mac N Cheese
Buffalo Chicken Mac N Cheese
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
5 large shallots, thinly sliced, 4 for curry base, 1 for garnish
4 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon each of the following ground spices: fennel, coriander, cumin, turmeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, clove, allspice, chile, black pepper
1/2 lemon, for juice
1/2 lime, for juice
2 tablespoon pineapple juice
1 (15-ounce) can tomatoes in juice, chopped
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and very thinly sliced
1 cup of small chickpeas, rinsed
1 cup fish or shrimp stock
3 pounds cultivated mussels, scrubbed and de-bearded
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, leaves picked off stem and stems reserved
3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
sea salt and fresh pepper to taste
Let de-bearded, scrubbed mussels soak in a basin of water with a few ice cubes. Poor 1/4 cup of plain flour into the water, stir and let sit while you prepare your curry base. (The mussels will ingest the flour and will expel any sand or grit that is in their digestive system, which makes them a good deal more pleasant and plump.)
Curry Base: Sauté garlic and shallots in 2 tablespoons olive oil. When golden, add fresh grated ginger and 1/2 teaspoon each of ground fennel, coriander, cumin, tumeric, fenugreek, cinnamon, clove, allspice, chili and black pepper. Cook over high heat. Add chopped tomatoes, and chopped cilantro stems and let simmer. Add lemon, lime and pineapple juice, continuing to simmer. Purée until smooth.
To Serve: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add thinly sliced fennel and sauté until just tender. Add curry base, chick peas and fish stock. Check for seasoning (add a few drops of lemon juice or pinch of salt and fresh pepper to taste). Add mussels and cook, covered until they are just open.
Spoon mussels with the tomato, fennel, chickpea-laden broth into bowls. Garnish with several spoonfuls of Greek yogurt, a tangle of cilantro leaves and thinly sliced shallots, and a drizzle of olive oil. Serve with slices of grilled ciabatta or flatbread toast doused in olive oil.