Who: Audrye Sessions, an Oakland, California-based quartet who craft gorgeous guitar-powered pop that ranges from giant, U2-style anthems to more introspective ballads that call to mind Bends-era Radiohead. Frontman Ryan Karazija started the group as a one-man outfit, gigging around at local coffeeshops before teaming up with bassist Alicia Marie Campbell, drummer James Leste and guitarist Michael Knox. As you can guess, there’s no one in the band named Audrye. “I didn’t want to play under my own name anymore,” says Karazija. “So one day when I was watching TV, there was this Sony commercial where a little blue alien burns a CD for a girl and calls it Audrye Sessions. I thought [our name] would change. But after a year, you’re like, ‘I can’t change the name because everyone will forget who I am.’ “
Sounds Like: For their self-titled debut, Audrye Sessions teamed up with rock-savvy producers Andrew Scheps (U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers) and Matt Radosevich (the Hives, Taking Back Sunday) to cut radio-ready guitar anthems like the gorgeous lead single “Turn Me Off.” But Karazija’s voice steals the show: a high-pitched, soaring falsetto that is a dead ringer for Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, one of Karazija’s biggest influences.
• Knowing full well what can happen when you date your bandmate, Karazija and Campbell did just that before mutually breaking up four years ago. As if that weren’t weird enough, Campbell’s new boyfriend occasionally joins the band for live shows. But Karazija’s totally cool with it. “It was weird at first but we’ve gotten through it,” he says.
• Audrye Sessions wrote and recorded many early versions of the songs on their debut in a setting that belies the cheeriness of their tunes: a haunted house in Catoti, California. “Things were really weird,” says Karazija. “You’d hear strange noises every once in a while. Apparently, there’s a lady who always lurks around the house or something. But nobody told us prior to going there that it was maybe haunted.”
• Karazija, who is also a big fan of Sigur Ros and Bjork, loves to get away to Iceland with his girlfriend, a native of the country, any chance he gets. “Even with the economy there right now, everyone seems to be in really good spirits,” he says. “Everything is tighter-knit and people don’t have fear of certain things. Like, they leave their babies outside in their strollers when they go in to a coffeeshop. It’s so much more relaxing over there.” Funniest thing he knows how to say in Icelandic? “I did know how to say, ‘Can you bring me a diaper?’ ” he cracks. “But I forgot how to say that.”
Get It Now: The Audrye Sessions’ first album came out yesterday on Black Seal. Get a look at the band now, though with a special live performance of “Nothing Pure Can Stay” above.