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Philadelphia Music Group Bells Bells Bells talks with Philly2Philly

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If you were to ask ten prog-rock acts what prog-rock means, they’d probably give you ten unique answers. So, with that in mind, I’m having trouble figuring out how to describe the sound of local (progressive rock) outfit Bells Bells Bells.

Their MySpace page calls it “progressive/folk/psychedelic,” which makes it even more difficult, with all the backslashes and whatnot. But this muchBells Bells Bells is true: For the last three years, the local 5-piece (named for an Edgar Allen Poe poem of the same name) have released two independent albums, played a live session on NBC 10’s morning show, are regulars on XPN, and will be releasing their third album at South Street’s Tri-Tone on January 30.

Singer and co-songwriter Amandah Romick caught up with Philly2Philly to discuss what’s going on with the band’s third album, the CD release party, and how, exactly we can describe their sound.

Taking cues from bands like The Ghost, Nick Cave, Goblin, PJ Harvey, Pink Floyd and Leonard Cohen, Amandah says Bells Bells Bells had no sounds or goals in mind upon formation. “There was nothing specific we wanted to accomplish,” she says. “We realized we played really well together and brought things out in each other that other musicians hadn’t, since we’d all been in other bands before. Once we started to develop that and realized how cool it was and how comfortable we were with each other, the music sort of just directed us to where we wanted to go.”

In the Spring of 2008, the band sent a demo into NBC 10 (“It was basically a joke,” Amanda says) and were chosen to perform “Throw Down Your Anchor” off their second album of the same name. At the time, the sophomore record wasn’t complete, but the foursome showcased a newfound darker, cacophonous sound on the morning news show. The new tracks, Amanda says, are darker than that.

“It’s hard to describe our sound. I actually think if you can describe your sound, you’re probably not doing anything new,” she says.

They’ve recorded their new album “A Ghost Could Live Here” with producer Isaac Betsh (the same dude they worked with on “Throw Down Your Anchor”) at his Gray House studio in Quakertown. Having worked on the material since August, Amanda says they focused on taking the time to record, stop, play the new songs live, then go back to the original recordings for re-hashment.

Playing live, the band prides itself on an eclectic stage show in addition to its sound, projecting homemade psychedelic videos on a wall above and behind their performance area.

Their first two albums were sold independently, through shows and the band’s MySpace page. Fans from all over the country have made purchases, and the gang sees no reason why that should change. “Releasing independently has allowed us to have complete creativity. We can do whatever we want on our own schedule,” Amanda tells me.

Their latest album is has been done with that same DIY attitude and, upon first listen, seems to invoke a more Pink Floyd-esque sound (still creepy, just more refined) than previous albums, especially on tracks like the organ-heavy “The Writer” and the 7-plus-minute album opener, “Lraika, An Astronaut”, both of which sound like they could’ve been a B-side track off “Animals” with female lead vocals.

“I think we have a unique contribution to music,” Amanda says, “because our sound is so hard to describe. We’re influenced by so many genres of music that we’ve sort of created our own.”

But come on. There must be some way to describe it without losing credibility – right?

“If I had to call it something,” she concedes, “I guess I would say folk metal, but heavier...It’s complicated.”

Bells Bells Bells will be playing with Frisky or Trust, Party Photographers  and Maria T. The event begins at 9:30pm. Music and videos can be listened to and viewed at www.MySpace.com/BellsBellsBells

photography: Drew Versak