Florida natives Alexander and the Grapes have abandoned their home-state oranges for some vineyard love, but only by accident. “Back when I was first recording, it was under Alexander and the Greats,” singer and guitarist Alexander Charos notes. “I got a show at a place called the D-Pad, which was a video game arcade/venue, and they misheard the band name over the phone and wrote ‘Alexander and the Grapes’ on the flyer. We all kind of got a kick out of it and I changed our MySpace page as a joke, but then we just never changed it back.”
The folk-pop foursome started out as a solo deal with Charos, who was fond of making lo-fi recordings in his bedroom. After earning a bit of internet buzz, Charos’ friends convinced him to make the move from under the covers to cover charges. His brother Philip joined him on the drums, and they played a few local shows with random bassists. Steel guitar player Chase Swan came out one of those nights, and eventually joined up with the Charos brothers. These three amigos were the core of the band for a few years until good friend and bassist Vaughn O’Loughlin staked his claim six months ago, completing the quartet.
These days, the studio is where the magic happens for these guys, and the fairy dust settles on two-inch analog tape. “It’s a sound that we really fell in love with and a process that is way more involved. It demands that you be a more alert musician in the studio,” Charos explains. The first EP was recorded at an analog studio in Boston back in 2009, and the band returned in 2011 for the full-length Hemispheres. While both discs exude an untreated, melancholy vibe, the two-year gap allowed for some maturing and self-discovery. “We’ve grown a lot since then, though, so we definitely feel Hemispheres is a more holistic representation of our band,” says Charos.
The recording process is just one aspect of Alexander and the Grapes that Charos is enthusiastic about. For the frontman, seeing a song take shape and working with an engineer is a fascinating process, but live performances are all about letting loose. “You can really get lost in your music, and the little mistakes you make don’t really matter because you’re just having a great time,” Charos says. They’ve been traveling around Florida a bunch with a few scattered stops around the Southeast, but Charleston marks their only Palmetto State stop and also the next to last gig on the tour. After Charos and company head home, they plan to record a few demos.
When Alexander and the Grapes are on the road, they stay entertained, even on the tour bus. Swan is a geologist, so he gives the rest of the band lessons on rock formations when they drive through the mountains, and Charos has an odd obsession with cats, which can lead to pit stops for strays. Meanwhile, his brother Philip also pens orchestral compositions.
The Grapes draw their musical inspiration from Wilco, Jimmy Eat World, the Beatles, Emperor X, and Pedro the Lion. “We’re kind of all over the place,” Charos admits. Their sound channels a ’90s indie vibe and screams hipster in the best way possible. They even rock some pretty hipster facial hair, from Swan’s sweet ‘stache to Charos’ full-out black-bear beard.