The music on God Lives Underwater's latest release, Empty, is a fiery pastiche of techno beats, ominous synthesizer lines, industrial-strength riffs and gloomy, borderline suicidal ruminations. While that may all sound like the product of some dystopian urban wasteland of the future (or present), its origins can actually be traced back to ultra-rural Perkiomenville, PA. With a population of approximately 400, it's hardly a music Mecca; nonetheless, vocalist/co-founder/multi-instrumentalist David Reilly claims that the insular surroundings played an integral part in the band's development.
"There's no scene there and really no place to play," he says, "but because of that, we weren't out seeing bands every night. There was no place to go, so our only influences were the records that we listened to at home."
With no clubs to idle away the hours at, Reilly and bandmate Jeff Turzo
wood-shedded with their stereos and home recording units in 1992, a collaboration that eventually developed into God Lives Underwater. And though the pair have since inked a deal with American (which released Empty), filled out their live line-up and relocated to Los Angeles, they've hardly abandoned their hermit-like work ethic: Empty, like GLU's eponymous 1995 debut EP, was written and recorded by Reilly and Turzo in their home studio.
Along with increased notoriety and exposure ("All Wrong," the first single from Empty, has received lots of radio airplay), the band has also received considerable praise for its jarring stylistic blend. But Reilly and Turzo insist that it is the songs, not the techno-grunge adornments, that matters most.
"I think when all is said and done, we'd rather be known as good songwriters who also make cool sounds," says Reilly. "We're not trying to be innovative."
"If you took out the keyboards," adds Turzo, "we'd just sound like a rock band with loud guitars. We're pretty much a traditional rock band. We just happen to have non-traditional elements in our songs."