Philly’s The Guests are the perfect crew to invite to your party, whether you’re a radical leftist or just someone who wants to have a good dance. Featuring members of scuzz-pop favorites Sheer Mag, they’re making music that hearkens back to ’80s new wave, but feels too fresh to get mired in today’s bottomless swamp of nostalgic pop music.
“Third Coming” is already a loaded title; fitting for this kind of a track, which is simultaneously ultra-nostalgic and futuristic. On the surface it’s a bright and danceable track, with a sunny, layered electric jangle against thick bass and resonant drums. The vocals are doubled and dramatic at the refrain, and the instrumentation gets increasingly dreamy, with the entrance of synthetic tones on the upswing. But it’s also more than a little unsettling, with the unassuming introduction of stark lines like, “Holy Father, I’m gone / It’s so hard to be alone” that come in before the possessed chorus of “Oh, do join us / Please do join us.” This insistent plea picks up a weird ritualistic reverberation against the growing thicket of the instrumentation, and it’s hard to resist singing along. You’ll be taken up into the fold of “us” before you know it.
Stream “Third Coming” below and scroll down for a talk with The Guests on their origins, their favorite sounds, and the meaning of it all.
Impose: Who are you? How did The Guests come into being?
We’re Christian Vogan, Alkis Meimaris, Hart Seely and Kyle Seely. The four of us went to college together. As it happens, we’re all living in Philadelphia. I suppose the idea for the band formed out of a one-off cover band Alkis and Christian were in at college.
“Third Coming” makes me think of bands like The Cure and The Psychedelic Furs, and it’s got quite the dark tinge. What influences are you drawing from?
The Cure’s certainly one. I think we tend to prefer the janglier, more angular compositions to the more atmospheric ones, though. Like “Jumping Someone Else’s Train.” Pop music should take a stand compositionally as well as lyrically. Totalizing compositions where everything’s bathed in a sonic womb are less interesting to us. I’m happy we haven’t been referred to as shoegaze yet. Other favorite artists of ours include the Housemartins, Wire, Sect, Fleetwood Mac, and the Cleaners from Venus.
What’s the third coming that you’re referring to? Do you have a vision?
We get so few second chances in life. [laughs] The title refers to the ultra-rare third chance that few ever get. Our vision is workers’ liberation.
I hear through the grapevine that you’re associated with a guy named Mike Kaminsky. Who is Mike Kaminsky? Can you explain what this means?
What kinds of sounds can we expect in the future?
More of the same.