Thursday, March 23, 2017
By GUY D’ASTOLFO
Kelly McCracken will return to the Mahoning Valley on Saturday for a show with her new band, Flying Underground, the veteran indie-rock act out of Cincinnati.
The singer, who fronted the popular Warren-based act the Kellys in the late aughts and early 2010s, says it’s a great fit.
“I can’t imagine it working out any better for me,” she said in a phone interview from her home in northern Kentucky, where she moved several years ago.
Flying Underground – led by Brian Lovely – was a well-respected Cincy act in the late ’90s. It got back together a little over a year ago and has since released an EP, “Death of Stars,” with McCracken on vocals.
She admitted it was a little different being the new person in a long-lived band, but it’s been a smooth ride so far.
“In a way it’s been an adjustment,” she said, “but Brian comes to me with ideas, and I might bring my take to it, and it becomes one song,” she said.
Lovely agreed that it’s been an easy transition.
“[Most of] those songs existed or were evolving before [McCracken] came along, but I steer things into her key,” he said. “She’s inspiring me to write for her.”
The Kellys and Flying Underground are not too far apart sonically. Both are guitar-driven power pop, although the current act has a sharper edge.
Lovely was the singer in the first iteration of the band and spent the past 15 years as a studio session player, recording engineer and with his own jazz band. He also had been a college instructor until a neuromuscular throat ailment forced him to quit.
Unable to handle lecturing without losing his voice, he got back into music full time, re-starting Flying Underground with his collaborator, Chris Arduser (the Bears, psychodots) on drums and Dave Ramos on bass. That’s when he went looking for a singer and connected with McCracken, who had posted her musical resume on a musicians website. They hit it off, and Lovely said he felt fortunate for having found McCracken.
The two worked together for a full year, writing and learning songs and playing gigs as a duo before restarting Flying Underground.
As a sign of their respect in the Cincy area, the band was picked for an early slot at the Bunbury Music Festival in that city in June.
The band has about 20 songs ready for its upcoming Cedars set, including some new takes on older FU tunes. Those who go to Cedars also should expect to hear the Kellys song “Let It Ride.”
The last time McCracken played Cedars was in 2014, when the Kellys did a reunion show. It was also a fundraiser for her that came in the aftermath of a fire at her Cincy-area house. “That was bittersweet for me, but mostly sweet,” she said.
Fans of the Kellys likely will be lured to Cedars to see the act in which McCracken has resurfaced.
She’s hoping they do.
“Leaving Youngstown and Warren and the Kellys to come [to Cincinnati] to see what I could do was hard for me because that was all I had known for almost 10 years,” she said. “Now that I am in the beginning stages of making something happen, doing what I love, I hope that interests some people, and they can see that it was worth it.”