The seven-person ensemble, The Family Crest, made a stop at Washington, D.C.’s Rock & Roll Hotel on Tuesday following the release of the first of a series of EPs, Prelude to War, in late April. Vocalist, guitarist and headman Liam McCormick caught up with the News-Press to talk about the band and its unique concept of featuring closet artists on records that set it apart from the crowd.
You may not have heard of The Family Crest, but you will soon enough. The self-described “orchestral indie rock” band puts a spin on classic rock with a flute, trombone, cello and violin players to complement the genre’s musical mainstays of guitar, bass and percussion. It’s what allows the group to play anything from scores with cinematic crescendos to swing jazz that makes you want to tap your feet.
Though this union almost never materialized. Before starting The Family Crest, McCormick and bassist John Seeterlin were in another band until they became disenchanted with the music industry’s desire for hits over substantive productions. From there they started The Family Crest and established the group’s open door policy on collaborating with all kinds of artists. Featured performers are aptly named the “extended family” and helped attract the band’s five remaining core members while also putting texture in the group’s identity.
“A lot of people think the collaborative nature of our band is a gimmick and it’s really not. We do it because we like playing and encouraging people to make music.” McCormick said. “When it came to the first record we worked with 100 different people and it was really fun, so we just found a way to keep that going.”
Now the extended family spans over 400 hundred artists. The features lend themselves to the band’s eclectic nature, as shows may vary from city to city depending on which regional artists The Family Crest is reuniting with.
“It enables audiences to hear completely different versions of the band, so you’re always going to hear The Family Crest it just might be a little added color in different cities,” McCormick continued. “In Wisconsin and Chicago they’ve never heard us without [Andy Lynch]…so it’s interesting if you had a superfan that wanted to travel alongside the band, they, theoretically, could experience a bunch of different styles of concerts.”
Natives from the D.C.-Maryland-Virginia area have yet to join the extended family, but that didn’t stop the the group from bringing their trademark sound to a nearby stage. Show goers will be exposed to songs from the band’s latest project, Prelude to War, which is part of a larger collection known as The War.
“During the last six or seven years I’ve been writing songs to fill this block of content that makes up The War,” McCormick added. “Because I’ve been inspired by so many different sounds and artists through the extended family and the core band members, it also has a lot of different genres it’s jumping to. So it’s more eclectic than ever, but also more epic than ever.”
Prelude lives up to the hype. The lead single “Mirrors,” delivers a catchy tune that interlaces a funky bass line with timely inflections from the bongo. “Sparks,” Prelude’s second single, emphasizes McCormick’s vocal range as softly spoken verses build up to a powerful chorus that is complemented well by the strings’ growing intensity. If the rest of the project can stick the landing, The Family Crest may be well on their way to putting out one of the boldest productions in recent rock memory.
For more information on The Family Crest, visit thefamilycrestfamily.com