Tyler Anthony, hirsute co-founder of Knoxville, Tennessee-based folk rock outfit Cereus Bright, is walking to the band’s hometown practice space during our recent chat, when he is caught off guard by a cold and wet surprise. “So, a truck just drove by and threw a cup of ice and water on me, mid-interview!” he exclaims. “I have to admit it was kind of refreshing, I mean, I hope it was water.” The impromptu shower didn’t break his stride or quench his enthusiasm about sharing the band’s big news.
After two EP releases in the last four years, Cereus Bright finally (finally!) will unleash their long-awaited debut full length, Excuses, set for release on July 29th. “Over the past few years, I’ve changed and grown, as have my bandmates; we’ve seen the nitty gritty of life, and this album is about us processing those changes,” says Anthony. “We’re trying to make honest music. There are no gimmicks here. We cover topics from love and heartbreak to politics and religion. It runs the gamut.”
After Cereus Bright, initially a duo of Anthony and Evan Ford, became a five piece outfit, the band spent a while touring and opening for bands like The Oh Hellos and The Lone Bellow, gaining exposure and honing their sound. “We needed to figure out what our sound was post-duo, and when you record something it becomes permanent, so we were pretty cautious,” says Anthony with a laugh. “We rented a one bedroom cabin on a horse farm about 15 minutes away from downtown Knoxville; it created a sanctuary for us, and we decided to record while we were there as well. We’ve taken our time with it, in the past we’d tried to record stuff under the gun, and it’s really stressful. Doing it this way was great for our sanity and our morale. We were so thankful to work with Tom Schick (Wilco), who mixed the album. He made it sound like real music. We don’t make pop music, and it was neat to work with someone whose sensibility matched ours.”
Now, the group is on tour supporting the release, playing a series of “Close-Up Shows”. “We’ve been touring the past couple of years and we’ve had the chance to open for a lot of great bands; as an opener band you get a certain amount of time, you’re usually playing in a bar where there are people milling about, most people haven’t heard of you yet, and you have to win them over with a lot of energy,” he explains. “When we were approaching this release, we wanted to play the new songs, and we couldn’t really imagine playing them in that type of setting, it wasn’t going to work. Then we realized we didn’t have to play by those rules, and we decided to make our own tour and choose places that were conducive to connecting with people—houses, garages, galleries, co-working spaces, places where we can fit 30 to 100 people in about 30 cities.”
On July 23rd, Cereus Bright’s travels will bring them to the Music City for a Close-Up Show. “It’s been really fun and rewarding to just be with people and share music and life and art rather than the interaction be transactional or just pure entertainment,” Anthony says. “We’re really thankful for it.”
For Nashville show info: https://closeup.fm/band/cereus-bright-1/
Purchase Excuses: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/cereusbright