The foothills of Southern Appalachia are better known for nurturing bluegrass and traditional string music than for birthing trippy hard-rock outfits. But Dan Fehr, guitarist for the Bristol-area five-piece Indighost, believes the region’s alternately lush and brooding rural scenery is a perfect fit for his band’s haunting brand of neo-retro psychedelic rock.
“I think our approach to this type of music is very much, ‘This is how it is in the Southern Appalachian region,'” Fehr says, speaking from home in a recent phone interview. “For me, the hills and hollers — I get influenced by that, by being in nature. I love getting out and riding my motorcycle through the hills. I think the atmosphere of the area inspires people in different ways.”
Indighost began a couple of years ago, co-founded by Fehr and fellow guitarist Cody Gilner, both of them late of the Bristol act Rickshaw Roadshow. Fehr notes that Rickshaw Roadshow had already been evolving from its initial folk roots to “more of this Led Zeppelin III rock-folk thing.” Fehr says he and Gilner were interested in doing something “a little wild and dangerous,” and began listening to a raft of new music.
“We were listening to a lot of music we thought was new and exciting,” Fehr says. “We got a lot from the Obelisk (a Maryland-based stoner/doom/psychedelic rock blog) — that was an amazing source of cool, exciting bands that are making things happen. We immersed ourselves in what was around. I believe that big part of being a musician is subjecting yourself to lots of different art and music.”
The two guitarists recruited drummer Taylor Cogdill and bassist Quentin Garrett. But while Gilner and Fehr were both capable singers in their own right, they wanted someone else to take the vocal helm of their new band. Then singer Randi Denton submitted her aural resume.
Fehr had already seen Denton perform a couple of years before, when she sang a lead role in a stage performance of “The Rock Horror Picture Show.” She made a lasting impression with both her evocative, weirdly beautiful voice, and with her savvy stage presence. After listening to her mix CD, Fehr felt Denton’s own music was a good fit for the band he and Gilner were trying to create, and quickly brought her on board.
Since then, Indighost have released 2015’s “Treeline” EP, and last year’s full-length “Heirophant.” Both albums present a take on modern psychedelia not too far removed from that of Austin-based outfit the Black Angels. But whereas the Angels mostly mine the territory of classic ’60s psychedelia, Indighost infuse the music with additional elements of heavy blues-rock, stoner fuzz and post-millennial indie.
For his part, Fehr describes the Indighost sound as “taking ’70s hard rock and mixing it with the West Coast psychedelic scene… We’re trying to push the envelope. If it’s new, we’re interested.”
The band has also created a stage show appropriate to the music’s psychedelic bent. “We have lots of visual elements to our music,” Fehr says. “Live, we have almost a liquid light show, where we use a projector and a screen. Our goal is to elicit a very specific feeling with our music.”
Fehr says the band is already at work on a follow-up to Hierophant, a record he says will be at once darker and more rock-centered, more reflective of the puissant energy of the band’s live performances.
“We played a lot of shows in 2016, and this record will be a synthesis of what we’ve learned,” Fehr says. “Rather than being high-fidelity, we want it to be raw, like you’re standing three lines back at our live show.
“We’re going for a darker vibe; it will be more aggressive, while maintaining the sense of mysteriousness that drew people in on our other records. If (Hierophant) was sunny, this one is the moon. It’s definitely midnight.”
Indighost will play Scruffy City Hall Sunday, March 26 as part of the Funny Ears Fringe Festival.