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Issue Date: December 2013

String Theory

Seafair adds cello and violin to create an exhilarating sound.
Kelly Petryszyn

Even though vocalist Chayla Hope and bassist Joshua Riehl's original punk-rock band only consisted of guitar, drums, bass, vocals and keys, Hope wrote songs with strings in mind.

"I wanted that bigger, more beautiful, more moving sound, so I tried to re-create it the best I could without having many resources besides a dinky Casio [keyboard]," says Hope, a Parma resident.

But she doesn't have to pretend anymore. To transition toward a softer tone, Hope and Riehl formed a new band, Seafair, and added classically trained violinist Andrea Belding and cellist Tara Hanish, who won a 2008 contest to play with the Foo Fighters at the Grammys. Seafair went through several members before settling on its current lineup that also includes drummer Ryan Kelly and guitarist Michael Flaherty.

Having six musicians collaborate means a more melodic sound that layers singing guitar, cascading drums and rich vocals with dreamy strings that float overtop.

It also means Seafair can avoid being pigeonholed as an indie, rock or punk band.

"I want to be like, 'That's Seafair, a completely different entity,' " Kelly says.

But he also admits the group is still in the process of defining its sound. That's why Seafair released two five-song EPs — Paintings this spring and Photographs, which debuted Nov. 30 with a show at Mahall's 20 Lanes — to experiment with how its music would evolve.

And it has — Seafair's second EP is more multidimensional than its first. From the tragic, yet, upbeat "Melt the Snow" to the grand orchestral-rock epic of "Endeavor," each song on Photographs is a departure from the next.

"The stuff we are writing now is a little bit more what we enjoy playing as a band," Kelly says. "It has more elements. We have either extremely slow songs with extreme classic parts or we have fast songs with dancey parts, but it is all starting to mix together into the perfect storm we are looking for."

Slews of local fans have responded to Seafair's indie-rock-pop-classical fusion by consistently packing shows at events such as Weapons of Mass Creation Fest and IngenuityFest.

"The response is just mind-blowing," Hope says. "It's like getting the strings for the first time. All these people that you have never met are starting to learn your words and dance. It's kind of unbelievable. You always wanted it — here it is — it's starting."


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