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Family Vacation: Barely Legal Indie Hustlers.

November 3, 2014

FamilyVacationSmall01Text and image by Rachel Barrish.

Family Vacation says Philly never really had an indie scene, which is fine by them.

“If there’s no indie scene then it’s ours for the taking,” says Luke Harsel, vocalist and guitarist of the indie pop rock outfit.

The band is gathered on a quiet Friday evening on Temple University’s campus, where all members currently attend, at the Saxby’s coffee shop before closing. Family Vacation formed inside their freshmen dorms when they all started jamming together.

Though they stay true to their dreamy rock sound and fun, vivacious style, Family Vacation takes some of its musical inspiration from local punk-leaning bands like Hop Along and Little Big League.

“I listen to music that sounds nothing like us,” says drummer Adam Shumski.

Harsel says he’s proud that the Philly music scene is more punk-based right now, because that gives Family Vacation the opportunity to stand out. And the other members agree.

“I think any coverage of underground music in Philly is awesome,” says Cody Bluett, guitarist and lead vocalist. “The punk sound has a big effect on the other less-known indie rock that’s happening. I know it has for us.”

Bluett, who was studying abroad in Rome this past spring in pursuit of his fine arts degree, has recently rejoined the lineup. Alex Hines, who is also the bassist and backup vocalist for indie folk band Maitland, filled in during his absence. Since Bluett’s return to the States, Hines has gone from a temporary to permanent member of the band while previous guitarist, Matt Kerr, has left to pursue his teaching career.

Hines has remained on bass while Bluett has taken backing vocal responsibilities and picked up the guitar once again.

Family Vacation is now working on recording a few new songs following the release of their latest LP, Trails, which came out September 2013. That release was well received as the band promoted the album by going on a small East Coast tour with their best Philly indie rocker buds, Keepers (whose lead guy, Pat Cassidy, recently took the place of Mark Larson in The Districts).

Family Vacation makes note that people are more receptive to shorter releases over a shorter amount of time rather than a new album once every two years or so. They have plenty of songs to release a new album, but are holding off until they have something solid.

As far as playing live shows, they were pretty happy to be playing some at some all-ages venues being that half the members were under 21 up until very recently.

The problem stems from promoters, venue owners and managers assuming that bands under 21 will have a difficult time drawing a crowd.

“I try to be excited rather than get down about it,” Bluett mentions. “Being a younger band, it means we have more time to grow and change.”

“It makes it easier to prove people wrong,” Harsel adds.

Family Vacation is proud of the fact that they’re starting out so young with the ability to grow, even if that means being forced to balance work and school.

“It’s better than being in school and not being in a band,” says Harsel.

With what’s to come for the band and going into their senior year in college, the Family foursome definitely has an exciting road ahead of them.

“The name Family Vacation is starting to be viewed in a much different light now,” says Bluett. “Almost less of a carefree nostalgia and more the weight of realizing the people we’ve become.”

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