This article was originally published in the fifth issue of Masstransfer, 2002.
“local Detroit shoegazers that have seem to come out of nowhere to become the most talked about band in town”
Once in awhile, a band comes along that catches you by surprise, both by the quality their music and their ability to walk right into a scene and make an impact. Such is Au Revoir Borealis, who after only releasing 1 EP, has many people interested in following their progression.
I asked guitarist Steve Swartz how long it took them to break into the biz. “Well, we’ve actually been together for years, but only as a band for about 3 or 4 years. I (Steve) met Michael Carian, our drummer while in college. We shared a common obsession of music and went to tons of shows almost on a weekly basis. Through Michael, I met Justin VanSlembrouck who primarily plays bass in the band. Justin and Mike sort of grew up together.
Now at this point, I had been actively playing music for about 10 years. Justin had only been actively playing for about 2 years and Michael had never played drums actively ever. He always wanted to play drums, but never really had a chance to dig in. One day, Justin called me and wanted to get together and just jam out for a while. When we did, I think we played for about 8 hours straight! It was crazy! We had so much fun though. Justin and I kept playing for kicks. Michael eventually wanted to join the fun and Justin happened to have a drum kit in his basement. That’s basically how Au Revoir Borealis formed.”
Eventually, the 3 piece had some songs that were taking shape, but sensed something was missing. “We unanimously felt that a female voice would help take these songs to the next level, whatever that was. So Justin introduced us to Stephenie Halpert whom he had gone to high school with. She was the perfect match from the start. It was never a question of how she would fit. She just did. The right personality. The perfect sound. The perfect voice. And here we are today!”
Last year’s Tienken EP, self-released by the band, created quite a stir here in the Detroit area – Stormy Records could hardly keep copies in stock, enough so that they helped the band press a second batch of the EP. The song “Heaven’s Downward” got heavy airplay on the legendary Big Sonic Heaven radio show hosted by Darren Revell, where they performed a live acoustic version of the track. All this, and an upcoming release on an undisclosed label, and you get the feeling these folks are headed somewhere.
When queried about the possibility of wider success, Steve adds “It’s quite funny because we never really set out to be a band. We were just 4 friends who liked to make music in a basement. The nice thing about it is that we’re still 4 friends who like to make music in a basement. I hope it stays that way.”
*Check out their exclusive track, “Blissfield”, on the Masstransfer Installation:o5 CD