I’ve always been fascinated at how musical trends develop and evolve. Sometimes a geographical region breeds a certain type of sound. Other times, an influential artist inspires other acts to emulate them. In any case, I want to explore this phenomenon by looking at an interesting example – how two bands with entirely different backgrounds ended up producing albums with extremely similar styles. The two groups in question are Turnover and Carousel, with half of the latter band reforming as Day Wave.
Let’s start with Turnover. Formed in Virginia Beach during the late 2000’s, Turnover’s young members were influenced heavily by older pop-punk and emo artists such as Saves the Day. They began producing heavily earnest pop-punk music and playing at local venues. As they continued to hone their craft, they drew from more contemporary acts and developed a darker, more atmospheric sound.
Towards the beginning of 2012, the underground music scene in Virginia Beach, which once supported a thriving community of punk and hardcore artists, had begun to fade. This development, coupled with the fact that Turnover’s members were beginning to mature and enter their 20’s, sowed the seeds of Turnover’s eventual evolution. All that remained necessary was a potent fertilizer, which Turnover discovered in the form of producer Will Yip.
Yip was a producer that had his hands in many projects of bands that were in similar situations to Turnover - young bands with brash beginnings, now just on the cusp of adulthood and ready to explore new musical avenues. By the time Turnover went back to the studio for their sophomore effort, Yip had already assisted two other groups in their musical metamorphoses. Pianos Become the Teeth and Title Fight were screamo and pop-punk outfits, respectively. Both softened their sounds, releasing much more melodic, pensive records. It was Will Yip who encouraged these young artists to expand their listening to include bands such as The Cure, The Smiths, and Joy Division, the styles of which are reflected in Turnover’s recent record, Peripheral Vision.
Listen to Peripheral Vision here:
Let’s take a dive into Carousel/Day Wave before talking more about Peripheral Vision. Carousel was started by two Berklee music students, Jackson Phillips and Kevin Friedman. They began playing driving, synthy electronica in the vein of Bag Raiders. Carousel’s story of transition was much less dramatic than Turnover’s; there were no dying music scenes or coming-of-age angst involved. Jackson Phillips was looking for two things: the bravery to launch his own solo music project, and the desire to play a style of music more suited to a live setting. After moving to Oakland, he set about accomplishing these two goals by taking a year to teach himself guitar, then producing music under a new moniker – Day Wave.
Unlike Turnover, who have deflected most questions about their musical influences during their transition, Phillips has been very transparent when naming his inspirations for Day Wave. He mentions integrating the stylings of New Order, Joy Division, and interestingly, The Beach Boys, into his newest project. I searched for evidence of other creative forces pushing Day Wave into this new realm of music, but there was no hugely influential third party like a Will Yip. Jackson was and is the sole producer for Day Wave.
You can check out Day Wave's Headcase EP here:
Time to circle back to our original question: So how is it that two bands from opposite coasts ended up producing the same type of music? I’m not sure I’ll honestly be able to provide a satisfying answer. We know that Turnover released Peripheral Vision in May of 2015, with Day Wave releasing the Headcase EP slightly later, in July. I think the timeline makes it unlikely that either of the bands influenced each other, given that two months’ difference wouldn’t be enough time to craft and produce either an EP or album. I searched through interviews from both bands, trying to see if they mentioned each other, hoping for an acknowledgement of the other’s existence, but I found nothing. I also hoped that they might have toured together, or had a mutual tour partner, but I also came up empty there. Finally, I looked into who did production for each group, but as I mentioned earlier, there was no possible overlap because of Jackson Phillip’s solo production credit.
As previously noted, Turnover have been coy when speaking about their album influences, so it’s hard to pin a sort of overlapping inspiration between the two bands. On the other end, I thought it might be possible that Day Wave was inspired by other Will Yip projects, like Title Fight or Pianos Between the Teeth. However, Jackson Phillips has been insistent upon Joy Division and the Beach Boys as his influences. The only thing I was able to find was an interview with Yip mentioning that Turnover also draws inspiration from Joy Division. I think this is the closest we’ll get to a common ancestor between the two musical groups.
As we compare and contrast Turnover and Day Wave, it’s helpful to establish a common ancestor so that we can establish a baseline for comparison. It’s clear that much of the guitar work and general sonic structure have been heavily lifted from the precedent that Joy Division set. While there are subtle differences in each band’s guitar sounds, I think that the most glaring – and interesting – distinction comes by way of the lyrical content. This is where we see the origins of the two bands come into play; where Carousel and old Turnover bleed over into the new projects. Distinctly, Turnover keeps much of the edge in their lyrics, with visceral, morbid imagery taken from their emo roots. This is most distinct on their song “Take My Head”, with the chorus singing “Cut my brain into hemispheres/ I want to smash my face until it's nothing but ears”. Contrast this with Day Wave’s melancholy, but more pop-friendly lyrics on “Gone”: “And I feel this way/ I feel this way alone/ And I feel this way/ I feel this way alone”. It’s easy to see Phillip’s roots influence things like shorter lines, repetition and other such pop sensibilities.
If I’ve taken anything away from this little investigation, it’s that musical “waves” can occur completely by happenstance. In this unique case, we have two bands on opposite coasts, operating completely unaware of each other’s existence – and they happened to reinvent themselves with stylistically similar releases at almost the exact same time. It’s intriguing to note that while these bands have “met in the middle”, having started at opposite ends of the musical spectrum, they still carry vestiges of their old styles even while operating within a new framework. I started by believing that these bands sounded EXACTLY alike, but after many listens, introspection, and learning about how they arrived to their new sounds, differences between them have become more pronounced after once being very subtle. I think it just goes to show how much depth and variance goes into creating music, so much so that weird coincidences like this can sprout into being organically.
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