The Grand Rapids indie-rock band plays SpeakEZ Lounge tonight as it prepares to release its sophomore album and boost its touring schedule for 2015. (Story, video, photo gallery)
Re-energized by their collaboration, road-tested West Michigan musicians Rob Jordan and Tory Peterson have turned Bello Spark over the past two years into a full-fledged “regional touring band” that calls on varied influences to create uniquely atmospheric, harmony-laden and folk-hued indie-rock.
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And with singer-songwriter and classically trained vocalist Cole Hansen joining the band six months ago, Bello Spark may only now be hitting its stride musically as it prepares to release its sophomore album.
“The entire band is different and more cohesive, too,” says Jordan, guitarist and singer with the Grand Rapids band The Grey Line before moving to Chicago in 2007. “A huge difference for this album is that she (Hansen) is going to be a contributing songwriter and vocalist.
“We have really let the songs for the new album mature. I’ve really made a point to bring more positive emotions to the songs and mellow out my vocals a bit for this album.”
Adds Peterson, probably best known for his work in the award-winning Grand Rapids rock band Simien the Whale: “With the first record, we figured out what we were supposed to sound like while we were making the album. With this one, we already know what our aesthetic is, and we can continue to develop that. … From the production side of things, the new album will sound a bit more refined.”
INSPIRING MUSICAL PARTNERSHIPS AND A UNIQUE MIX OF STYLES
That engaging aesthetic likely will make Bello Spark an in-demand indie-rock band in 2015 and beyond as it tours behind the new album being recorded at Grand Rapids’ Mackinaw Harvest Music with an anticipated release sometime in late spring. The full band now also includes Zach Guy (from Simien the Whale) on bass and Jay Kolk on drums.
On Wednesday morning, Peterson, Jordan and Hansen offered up a demonstration of Bello Spark’s “refined” sound during Local Spins Live on News Talk 1340 AM (WJRW), performing an acoustic rendition of their current single, “Just Like You and Me” (which has been released to AAA radio).
Check out the podcast here and a video of that performance below, as well as a rendition of the Hansen-penned tune, “The Home I Build,” then check out the band live at 8 tonight (Wednesday Feb. 11) when it plays the Local Spins Live at SpeakEZ Lounge series at SpeakEZ Lounge in downtown Grand Rapids. Admission is free.
For Jordan, Bello Spark helped inspire him to push the re-set button on his musical career.
“I had been going hard for nearly eight years with music. I obviously needed a break because once in Chicago, I took a three-year songwriting hiatus and sledged away in the working world of Chicago,” he says, noting he “got burned out” by the music scene for a while.
Not long after Jordan “started finding music again” in 2011, Peterson approached him and the duo started writing and recording new songs, eventually releasing their debut album in March 2013. Jordan and Peterson first became friends more than a decade ago after meeting up while playing in bands around Grand Rapids.
“Our first album was pretty dark and we arranged a lot of it in the studio. I am super proud of it, but we hadn’t played a single show before its release,” says Jordan, 36, a graduate of East Grand Rapids High School and Grand Valley State University. “Since the release, we’ve played 40-plus shows in 10 different states (and) really honed our sound during time.”
Peterson, 33, also an East Grand Rapids alum who graduated from Michigan State University, says that sound has been compared to Snow Patrol and comes off as “a cross between the first two Coldplay albums and Ryan Adams,” capturing the “atmospheric part and the acoustic semi-Americana folk-rock part.”
Fans, Peterson says, seem to “identify with this band in a different way than other groups I’ve been with. There are different themes to the music and a completely different delivery. The emphasis is more about being personal and less about being groovy.”
He also suggests that the sound is changing with the addition of Hansen, 30, who he says “sounds a bit like Brandi Carlile.”
“The whole atmospheric thing thrown into Americana, it sounds like a weird mix. But … it’s a really good mix of just a lot of different genres that I think a lot of people will enjoy,” says Hansen, a solo artist, Creston High School grad and member of the band Drawing Monsters who says “things clicked” after sitting in on some sessions with Bello Spark.
Jordan, who has moved back to West Michigan, says the band is “looking forward to hitting Grand Rapids hard this year and continuing to play around the region as well,” starting with tonight’s show at SpeakEZ Lounge, 600 Monroe Ave. NW. A host of Michigan, Indiana and Illinois gigs will follow in coming months, many of them as a trio.
“Everyone is focused and willing to put in the time and energy it takes to be a good band,” he says. “That is so hard to find.”
BELLO SPARK ON LOCAL SPINS LIVE: “Just Like You and Me”
BELLO SPARK ON LOCAL SPINS LIVE: “The Home I Build”
BELLO SPARK PHOTO GALLERY: Photos by Anthony Norkus
LISTEN AT 11 A.M. WEDNESDAYS TO LOCAL SPINS LIVE ON NEWS TALK 1340 AM (WJRW) FOR INTERVIEWS AND PERFORMANCES FEATURING WEST MICHIGAN ARTISTS. LISTEN TO LOCAL SPINS LIVE PODCASTS BY CLICKING ON ‘RADIO’ ABOVE AND ‘LOCAL SPINS LIVE.’
Copyright 2015, Spins on Music LLC