Ropes try to sound like how band pictures itself

By John Benson

Another Velvet Underground-inspired New York City band is on its way to Youngstown. The Ropes make their Buckeye State debut Saturday at Cedars Lounge.

Led by lead singer-bassist Sharon Shy and multi-instrumentalist Toppy, the duo has three releases to its credit, including one full-length and two EPs, exploring unique sounds and themes.

“The concept is always the same as being more of an isolationist,” said Shy, calling from the Big Apple. “Specifically, our latest EP, ‘Be My Gun,’ has even a lonelier kind of sound. That’s always kind of been the basic concept of the band — to feel like an outsider. And we have no particular influences in general. As we say, we kind of are influenced by bits and pieces of things, but no particular band. Soundwise, I’m sort of influenced by a lot of ’50s French new wave, but nothing in particular and especially nothing contemporary.”

That’s a lot of nothing for a band that strives to offer something different.

“We’re not trying to sound like anybody,” Shy said. “We’re just trying to sound like the way that we picture ourselves in our head. We’re not trying to go for not sounding like anybody. We’re kind of doing what feels natural. It’s not a concerted effort to feel different or sound like this, I think it’s a concerted effort to just do what’s authentic.”

Upon further pressing of the issue, Shy admits the band — in principal — is influenced by The Velvet Underground as it creates an electro-acoustic aesthetic. In studio form, the band offers a layered approach, which perhaps surprisingly isn’t duplicated in the live setting by a heavy dose of sampling and effects. No, The Ropes are all about keeping it real when performing live.

“It’s not a novelty thing, it’s a necessity thing,” Shy said. “And I think it actually sounds better that way. We’ve tried touring with people who are almost like session players and it actually didn’t work out because it never portrayed the actual sound of the band, because they had no part in the writing of the music. Since it’s Toppy and myself who are responsible for all of the words and the sounds, it’s the real sound of The Ropes.”

Apparently that Ropes sound jives with a diverse list of genres considering the twosome has opened for emo act The Used and industrial-alternative band Innerpartysystem. Shy is confident in saying it’s the band’s message and music that has impressed audiences.

“People that like sincerity, that’s kind of what we’re going for,” Shy said. “I think they’ll leave feeling contemplative. Our shows aren’t really a party, but you can have fun at a Ropes show. We do have a lot of up-tempo stuff. You feel thoughtful, but you also have fun. So I think it’s a good combination.”

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