Listening to the masterful dynamics of Between Symmetries’ Silhouettes, one might be surprised to learn the Savannah-based band's only been around for a year and a half. In that brief time, the quartet of young musicians has honed a fresh, tight sound that's blowing up through the Southeast and beyond.
Music was always in the cards for guitarist/vocalist Adam Jenkins. Growing up in Savannah, Jenkins’ grandfather was in seminal funk/soul band Tradewinds, and his grandmother sang in the church choir. Camoflauge, the young Hitch Village rapper who was gunned down outside a recording studio on his rise to fame, was close with Jenkins’ brother and often hung out at their childhood home. Surrounded in diverse influences, Jenkins was first introduced to guitar while attending Emanuel Baptist Church.
“I was the only black kid there,” he laughs, “so I remember they had a new youth pastor, and she had a son, maybe five years older than me, who played guitar. I asked my mom, ‘What’s that?’ She said, ‘That’s a guitar. You want to learn to play?’”
Soon, Jenkins was performing in the church’s band and learned power chords and rock arrangements at home.
“We were playing ‘Highway to Hell’ in church before they sang hymns,” he remembers. “So many people were like, ‘You’re gonna go to hell!’ We didn’t even care, it was so much fun.”
Jenkins always knew he wanted to be a musician or a professional athlete. As his high school basketball career progressed and colleges scouted him, the sports path became clearer. Those aspirations were quickly halted when he tore his ACL.
“I remember, was at my best friend’s house laying on the couch wondering, ‘What am I gonna do?’ he says. “Everybody says they have a moment of realization—and I never believed in that when I heard about it—but I did after that. I just had that moment—I asked, ‘What am I supposed to do?’ and I swear I heard a voice: ‘You know what you’re supposed to do.’ In that moment, I knew it was music. From then on—I was 20—I worked, I got the money to buy an amp, bought my dream guitar. It took me two years to get it, but it was so worth it. Got pedals, and found all my band people through Craigslist and parties.”
Jenkins, drummer Michael Britt, guitarist Daniel Sheehan, and bassist Jack Nave forged an indie-emo sound with raw edges and shoegaze haze—and it took off.
“I’ve only been playing music seriously for a year and a half,” says Jenkins. “I’m learning a lot.”
The band has hit it hard the DIY way, releasing a debut EP, “Movetur,” last year. In the wee hours of the morning, Jenkins sent emails to websites and magazines to spread the word. His efforts paid off: the revered tastemakers at CMJ (College Media Journal) premiered the little Georgia band’s EP, praising the band’s Midwest college rock vibes, wide melodies, and slow builds of “yearning, dramatic, arena emo.”
Later on, New Noise Magazine and Substream Magazine would become Between Symmetries supporters, teasing new songs and offering premieres.
“It was all on blind faith,” Jenkins says. “I think we figured out some of the tricks of becoming a bit more well-known early on. Those connections don’t usually come until three, four years in. I just compiled a list of emails and faces and sent out emails all day, every day.”
Jenkins admits he didn’t imagine the sheer amount of work being in a band requires when he first got into the game, but he feels the reward is worth it—even when he’s working three jobs and pushing his band’s product.
Though they’re gaining notoriety throughout the U.S., Between Symmetries’ latest will be particularly special to Savannahians. What initially began as an EP unfurled into Silhouettes, a full-length album with each song named after a Savannah music venue.
“Sitting down, it made sense to do something bigger than ourselves,” says Jenkins. “The best music I’ve listened to had a story behind it. Rage Against the Machine was always political. Green Day was ‘fuck the system.’”
Even just months after it was recorded, the album feels like a timepiece—most of the DIY venues immortalized on the record are defunct. In fact, The Jinx and The Wormhole are the only spots mentioned that still actively have shows.
“I was looking around, and everything was shutting down,” Jenkins recalls. “I was helping book bands all around town and in a matter of a week I had nowhere to book anybody. I wondered, could we do something that brings some sort of attention to what we have going on here and immortalize these places even if they’re never around again?”
Lyrically, the album explores “life, shitty jobs, and relationships,” but listeners will hear each venue’s influence in the album’s arrangements.
“‘The Bomb Shelter’ has this math rock tapping type thing,” Jenkins explains, referring to a track named after a beloved, now-defunct house venue. “‘The Jinx’ is super-heavy, because they have metal bands. ‘Hang Fire’ is more pop-rock. It came together, and it wasn’t even on purpose. It was a cool concept, and I sat down and talked to a lot of people about it, and everyone was for it.”
Between Symmetries’ former drummer did most of the songwriting for their last album; for Silhouettes, Jenkins took the helm.
“The band told me to write everything and they’d put their parts around it,” he says. “It came out to be this weird, shoegaze-y type of vibe. We used to have breakdowns and discord...now it’s a lot more honest.”
The writing process has been a transformative experience for Jenkins.
“When we play the last song on the record, ‘Sweet Mels,’ I don’t think I’ve ever played a song that emotional. It’s a tough song about my dad leaving me when I was seven, eight. It’s all super-feelsy and got comparisons to Brand New, Citizen, Turnover, indie alternative bands.”
With positive feedback, the band hopes to tour more in the future and release a string of EPs. For now, they’ll unleash Silhouettes onto Savannah this weekend at The Jinx.
“We’ve only been playing for a year and a half,” Jenkins. “We’re still, relatively, babies. But everyone’s really loved it. Before I didn’t know what we were. Now it’s easier to put us in a genre.”