What might indie rock sound like if the ‘80s had followed the ‘90s? Would The Smiths and Depeche Mode sound different if they had been inspired by Mother Love Bone and Deftones? Of course, we’ll never know– but Dayton, Ohio’s Praey is having fun with the question.
Formed in 2015 from the remains of Where the Nameless Dwell (goth/shoegaze) and Butterfly Sting (alternative rock/blues), Praey was challenged to form a cohesive style from disparate elements. Synths and loops brought out shared ‘80s influences and the band test-drove its hybrid sound through 2016-17, supporting fellow Ohio artists Goodnight Goodnight, Curse of Cassandra, and Echo Mecca, as well as regional touring artists.
Local critic Mike Ritchie writes, “Praey could be described as half techno-rock fusion and half tribute to the sounds of ‘80s gothic style, with mixes of The Cure, Siouxsie, [and] Duran Duran, with some Eurythmical elements…Originals range from atmospheric to ambient, with hints of shoegaze and a goth club dance floor after midnight vibe with moods of beautiful depression to multi-emotional blood-letting.” (CoveringTheScene.com, 2016.) Dr. Blu adds, “If I had to absolutely describe [Praey] I’d have to say it sounds as if David Bowie, Jim Morrison and Robert Smith got together and wrote the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club, but Pink Floyd performed it.” (RadioLoveZ, 2019.)
With their foundation in place, Praey enhanced its rock leanings with the addition of guitarist Steven Wyatt (Enkiridian) in 2017. The group then returned to their studio to rewrite and record. “The first batch of songs we chose to record represent the styles and genres we’re playing with,” explains drummer Nat Jobe. “Jeff [Linder, guitar] brings the noise and shoegaze, Charlie [Andrews, bass] brings the thick, sludgy bottom, Steven [Wyatt, guitar] brings the big rock riffs and solos, and Bryan [Campbell, vocals] brings THE VOICE. Nothing against the rest of us, but it’s worth coming to a Praey show just to hear Bryan.”
“Lyrically, my themes range from the personal, to the social and political, but I try to keep meanings ambiguous and explore the in-between spaces,” explains Campbell. “Some of our material is on the darker side, but we still have fun with it–and we hope our listeners have fun too. Everyone struggles, but we can struggle together. Connection is what gets us through and I hope our listeners connect with us and each other.”
As the band releases its first set of recordings, Praey is reintroducing itself and reconnecting with fans. “We want to get back out there,” says Campbell, “and if there are any producers or labels who dig what we’re doing–bookers, agents, promoters, licensers, podcasters, playlist managers—whoever, whatever, big or small—if you hear something you like, let’s connect.”