The members of indie folk band Dear Jerome don’t mind being one of the softer-sounding acts taking the stage at such venues as Tempe Tavern, Rips Ales & Cocktails, or Pho Cao. In a rock scene in which amped-up instruments sometimes overshadow vocals, the male-female dynamic via singers Brandon Jensen and Adriana Olsen is refreshing. The melodic combo provides rich, crystal-clear harmonies that allow listeners to hear every lyric, including existential musings most recently inspired by Jensen’s 2-year-old daughter.
“Playing softer music gives the audience the opportunity to really hear and feel the singer,” says guitarist Brennan Gerle, who cites his own young daughter as a creative influence as well. “Playing Tempe Tavern with our sound is interesting. Usually, as we are wrapping up the set, the next bands are loading in with their giant four-by-12 [-inch speaker] stacks and guitar amps, ready to blow the roof off. Years ago, that would’ve been intimidating as I’d pack all my stuff onto a little cart and wheel it into my dad-mobile.
But these days, I’m just relieved that it’s so easy.”
Dear Jerome had louder days before transitioning into the folk sound it’s strived to harness today, being influenced by Fleet Foxes and the Decemberists. Jensen and Gerle played together in an alternative rock band more than a dozen years ago, and when they reunited last year for Dear Jerome, Gerle played drums to create a more rock sound than the banjo-infused melodies the band currently plays, courtesy of Rai Singh, who also plays bass. Rounded out by Peter Firth on electric guitar and keyboards, and with Olsen’s mainstream-ready vocals, some may even say there are pop influences in the band, which flows from soulful, emotive ballads to catchy tracks that get audiences moving.
“I want to create music that people can feel and bob their heads to, and when I sing, my hope is for the listener to feel at ease and carefree,” Olsen says. “Our shows are fun and inviting and enjoyable for all types of music lovers.”
Olsen joined only this past spring, but her vocals have been a hit with fans, making the transition seemless. By early next year, the band hopes to follow up its most recent EP, May’s Oak Tree, with “live-style” EPs, in which the entire band will record together to give listeners a front-row feel.
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Band founder Jensen, who also plays acoustic and electric guitar, keyboards, and percussion, says audiences can also expect Dear Jerome to continue to grow its sound beyond the indie folk confines, as the diverse members’ interests give the group a melting pot touch with influences ranging from blues to hip-hop. Banjo continues to become more prevalent in tracks, and the group plans to continue to experiment with percussion, such as looping acoustic guitar tapping as a drum piece and introducing subtle rock elements for higher-energy performances. They’ll never forget their emphasis on powerful vocals, though.
“The main goal is to provide an overall emotion to the music through our body language and sound,” Jensen says. “I try to let myself go while on stage and just have fun during and in between the songs as I interact with the rest of the band and the audience throughout the set.”
Dear Jerome is scheduled to perform Friday, September 4, at Tempe Tavern.