Photos by Dan Gillespie: DGITAL
In 2013, Hiding Scarlet had just released an album, they’d received an Indie Award for Best Live Performance, and their unique sound and stage presence were earning lots of recognition. Then their vocalist left the band.
The shortest path from Point A to Point B is a straight line, but look at any band’s history and you’ll find a long and winding road riddled with detours. Hiding Scarlet’s story began in 2003, when lifelong friends Eric Dieter and Brendan Joyce-Stengle decided to record some classical Christmas music for their families. I’m sure you can guess what happened next: they formed a rap-rock group called DNAX (remember, this was the early 2000s) that wasn’t quite as successful as Linkin Park. Brendan and Eric’s songwriting partnership outlasted that experiment; they set out to explore new musical territory with the addition of Eric’s girlfriend (now wife) Tonna on violin. A drummer and a vocalist joined the crew, and Hiding Scarlet (v. 1.0) was born.
While show-swapping with Grey West, another local band, Eric and Brendan befriended singer-songwriter Andy Metz. This proved serendipitous when, on the same day that Hiding Scarlet lost their vocalist, they met with Andy and wrote a song together. That song prompted a trial EP, Oscuro, which saw the band reinvent themselves once again, with Andy as the new lead singer.
“It’s fun to perform with these guys,” says Andy. “They’ve become my closest friends.”
“We’ve never wanted to kill each other,” adds Brendan.
Hiding Scarlet doesn’t fit neatly into a genre— their music is at times mellow, at times metal, and altogether unique. They borrow ideas from opera and repurpose them in prog rock, composing haunting melodies that echo and interact with their lyrics. On stage they skew theatrical, sometimes wearing capes or masquerade masks, and a few times they’ve invited artists to paint while they play, generating funds for local Non-Profits. At the 2016 Philly Fringe Festival, Hiding Scarlet provided live music for the play “Sword of the Unicorn,” written and directed by Brendan’s brother.
While each of the band members brings a distinct flavor to the music of Hiding Scarlet, they all agree that Lancaster is the glue that holds it all together. “I love Lancaster,” says Andy. “It’s an eclectic mess of culture, full of music, and I’ve seen this explosion of the arts… it’s a renaissance.” Brendan, who works for Music For Everyone, credits the thriving music scene to Lancaster City’s strategic investment in the arts, especially during the recession.
“Nobody treats their artists like Lancaster does,” adds Eric, who in addition to giving private guitar lessons, often travels as a session musician. “[Venues] pay you. They feed you. The regional acts I play with always want to know how soon we can go back to Lancaster.”
Since the release of Oscuro, Hiding Scarlet has been laying down tracks for a new fulllength album, one that explores their deep connection to the city while reflecting on love, duality, and the human condition. “We think of it as a soundtrack to Lancaster,” says Eric.
With the record nearly finished, Hiding Scarlet has given Fine Living Lancaster permission to reveal the title: Cityscapes.
“A city is a living breathing organism,” says Brendan. “There’s so much going on, there are so many stories to tell, and at the end of the day…we’re storytellers.”