From the Studio

Otro Cinco chef creates vintage-inspired music with band Methodist Bells

Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor

The frontman of Methodist Bells, Clem Coleman, works as a chef at Otro Cinco when he's not busy with band business.

Clem Coleman plans to host an album release party for local Syracuse band Methodist Bells in the same student-loved Mexican restaurant he works at as a chef, Otro Cinco. Coleman acts as the lead singer of the indie band, balancing his work as a chef with his music endeavors.

The album is expected to be released within the next few months, five years after their first complete album was released. The album, named “Esso,” will feature their songs “Baby Bruiser,” “Keep On the Cunning Side of the Street” and “Long Before I Leave This World,” all original singles that listeners can find released on the band’s website.

Coleman said “Esso” is going to be better than their last album, “A 1000 Miles of Turpentine. ”

One of the differences between the newest record and their last begins in the recording process. “1,000 Miles of Turpentine” was recorded in the basement belonging to Coleman’s friend, Rob Coye.

“It was truly a labor of love on his part and it shows,” Coleman said.

“Esso,” on the other hand, was recorded on an analog two-inch tape at MoleTrax Studios on the Near West Side of Syracuse by artist Jeff Moleski. Coleman said that recording straight to tape was a wonderful idea, and produced a better sound.

There were more surprises and gifts throughout the listening process on the record, within these songs.
Clem Coleman

Coleman shared another new track they haven’t released yet, titled “Alice in the Sky.” Like the band’s other singles, the song sounds like something out of a transistor radio.

The band had hoped to create a Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood feel, and with fellow band member Leah Rizzo providing backing vocals, Coleman succeeded in creating a 1960s vibe in the song. However, when the band joined in during rehearsal, the song turned into a mix of western and ’80s rock.

Besides Coleman and Rizzo, the band consists of guitarist Maurice Love, keyboardist and guitarist Jeremy Allen, bassist Adam Ast and drummer Damian Allis. They play all over the Syracuse area, at venues such as SubCat Studios, Al’s Wine and Whiskey, The Lost Horizon and Funk n’ Waffles.

The title of the album, “Esso,” is a reference to the Exxon Mobil Corporation. Besides just liking the way the word sounds, Coleman says that he also likes the way that gas stations have a nostalgic feel to them, especially the way they look in old photographs.

I like the thought that there’s an old liter of gasoline out there in some rusting tractor that was sold as Esso gasoline but that it still might power up and engine and make it run for a few minutes.
Clem Coleman

In fact, nostalgic photographs are a big part of the records that Methodist Bells produces. Looking through their discography, each album or single cover seems to be hand-selected with care, as if the wrong picture would misrepresent the group entirely.

The last three singles released in July are represented with a black and white photograph, automatically making the song walk with a nostalgic feel. However, Coleman said nostalgia can be “a tricky thing.”

“I don’t long for some bygone day when the world was a better place because honestly, that notion is lie,” he said.

As hard as he tries to make the music that is fun and exciting for today’s ears, Coleman said he always winds up producing songs that sound dated and faded. He said the black and white pictures are his way of pointing out this nostalgic feeling before someone else does.

Coleman is unsure how the next album will be available, although all of Methodist Bells’ current music is available currently on their Bandcamp page, along with an album from Coleman’s last band, King Vidor.

With all of the various music streaming websites and apps, Coleman said it’s hard to keep up these days and he is leaning towards making the new record vinyl, which would uphold their vintage image. The vinyl album would also include their latest digital album, “Fan Fiction,” a record of four songs created in 2015 at More Sound Recording Studio in Syracuse.

“I am proud to have recorded in More Sound and at MoleTrax,” Coleman said. “The people in those outfits are all very cool and talented beyond words.”


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