Pianist Chris Cooney, guitarist Donald Larson, drummer Zack Rego and bassist Jacob Telford are Scarlet, a band hailing out of Portsmouth that plays a thoughtfully composed brand of rock and roll not unlike that of Incubus. It’s jam rock in its sonic qualities (a prominent, swirling punch of guitar and keyboard, moving gracefully through and around a rhythm section that bobs, weaves and snaps with not-so-subtle funk) but not in its execution; that is far more reserved, and far more dutifully conceived than the improvisational wankery of contemporary jam bands. And with impressive vocal chops, covered by Cooney and Telford, that occasionally blend into rather impressive harmonies, the group sounds more like seasoned pros than college students.
Recently the band wowed audiences at the WBRU Rock Hunt where they made an out-of-nowhere run to the semifinals.
“The Rock Hunt was a pleasant surprise, and a great experience,” says Cooney. “It didn’t work out, but we obviously still benefited from it... It really helps that our name is out there. It definitely gave a boost to our credibility. People know we’re a legitimate band, and we’ll be taken more seriously.”
After playing together for nearly five years, the quartet has developed a rock solid work ethic, and they’re ready to make a real run at stardom too. “We practice whenever we can, most weekends and weekdays when we are available,” says Cooney. “But after this semester we are going to leave (school) so that we can do this full-time. It’s never been a question for us; we always knew we were going to do this, so it wasn’t a difficult decision.”
With refreshing humility, Cooney downplays the band’s newfound popularity and success: “Eventually we want to go on tour and make a move to somewhere where there are more opportunities for us. But we’re taking it one step at a time,” he says. “We’re trying not to think too far ahead.”
Look out for a Scarlet EP to drop this summer, and keep your eyes peeled for show dates, which should be bountiful with the changing of the seasons.