Last year, when Virginia-based quartet Turnover dropped their sophomore full-length album, “Peripheral Vision,” two things happened: 1) The band took an abrupt (and welcome) turn from the catchy pop/punk they’d blasted out on their 2013 debut, “Magnolia,” to a more subdued style of dreamy indie rock, and 2) their audience immediately got more diverse. A lot more diverse.
“The most surprising thing with [‘Peripheral Vision’] is that there’s no one age group that it’s set to,” Turnover bassist Danny Dempsey tells me over the phone. “I’ve had 30 year olds come up to me and say, ‘My husband or my wife cheated on me, or left me, and this record helped me through that.’ I feel like before, it was just kids our own age at our shows. Now their parents like us. I’ve seen kids tweeting pictures of their dads wearing our shirts.”
Lest you think Turnover -- who play an all-ages show at the Irenic on Thursday, March 24 -- have gone from skate-mall punks with a penchant for heart-on-your-sleeve emo to the dreaded (and alternately celebrated?) dad rock, you’re wrong. You’ll never find Turnover on the same bill as, say, the Doobie Brothers (even though they probably wouldn't hate it).
But the point Dempsey is making is this: When the band arrived on the scene in 2009, they seemed precision-cut for a career made for never-ending Warped Tours and stints on the road with Have Mercy, New Found Glory and the Swellers. And off on that path they went. And it worked: Crowds got bigger, kids started listening and told their friends, big tours kept coming -- but something, according to Dempsey, was missing.
Music. Community. Culture.
“We weren’t doing bad,” he explains. “We were able to do things a lot of people wish they could -- but it wasn’t what we wanted it to be. With [‘Peripheral Vision’], it’s starting to happen… We definitely had nerves putting that record out. Those kids that just want to stage-dive off the speakers -- they may not like it. But I think with music, fans become controlling. They’re like, ‘It’s supposed to sound like this!’ In all other art forms, it’s not like that. I wouldn’t say it’s a problem in the music industry, but someone will do something and it will be successful or not successful -- but it’ll be what an entire fanbase thinks you’re supposed to do.”
With one abrupt move, the four lads in Turnover -- which, including Dempsey, is composed of singer/guitarist Austin Getz, drummer Casey Getz and guitarist Eric Soucy -- risked the possible alienation of their legion of devoted followers, the abandonment of years of hard work and, perhaps, their career as a band. But from the first majestic note of “Peripheral Vision,” all doubts and anxieties were squashed. [Buy/listen to it here.]
The record (and their just-released “Humblest Pleasures” 7-inch on Run For Cover Records) is a glorious work of dream pop. Songs like “New Scream,” “I Would Hate You If I Could,” “Dizzy on the Comedown” and “Humming” embody the times, places and circumstances swirling around faded memories of bygone lovers or the agonizing emptiness of recent, failed relationships. The album casts a dreamy haze, transporting listeners to their own past (or present) travails through loneliness, heartache and longing -- usually conjured all at the same time. During all that, Turnover barely rise above a smoldering push, instead choosing to propose their sing-along odes to long-lost ghosts in a calm serenity that mixes the expert pop-melodies of mid-period Cure and the reverberated shoegaze of current bands like DIIV (read my interview with DIIV here) and Wild Nothing. Even so, you’ll rarely see the band mentioned in the same breath as those hipster indie acts.
“It’d be cool to tour with a mainstream band like Real Estate, DIIV or Beach Fossils," the Turnover bassist says. “But we’re just not on their radar -- at all… and maybe that’s a good thing; maybe we’re kind of the cool indie-rock band in our own circle. For a while, we were crazy frustrated with not being able to break away from this, but if we were deep into that Beach Fossils scene, we’d be just another band. Playing in our scene now, we’re opening kids’ eyes to another type of music. That’s definitely a good feeling.”
At some point, Turnover will undoubtedly progress outside their immediate circle of peers, who seem all but hellbent on perpetuating the pop/punk status quo. Or are they?
“Truthfully, I think bands in our scene want to do the same thing we did but they’re scared to do it. You start making a ton of money off a thing you created as a kid, and then you’re faced with losing it all and you could be working at Wal-Mart. Maybe it’s not that serious," Dempsey laughs, “but it definitely makes sense why people wouldn’t do what we did. Then again, we weren’t making any money -- so we didn’t have anything to lose.”