Turn it Down: New local music to look out for in 2020: Super Secret Cult Band

LUVS side-project digs into cult culture on a series of upcoming EPs

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Dylan Rogers is a busy guy. He and his wife, Jeana-Dee Allen, own and operate The Robin Theatre in REO Town while spearheading other musical and artistic endeavors, like fronting the Lansing Unionized Vaudeville Spectacle (LUVS), a theatrical gypsy-folk group. Now, Rogers is delving a bit into the dark side — at least that’s the premise of Super Secret Cult Band, his newly formed trio that wholly dresses and looks the part. The offbeat group, which formed in the summer of 2019, includes Rogers (aka “Brother Dylan”) on guitar and vocals, while “Sister” Abbey Hoffman and “Brother” Michael McConeghy share vocal duties.

With their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, and donning black ritual-style robes, the trio sings happily and literally about Lovecraftian horror, doomsday-cult culture, esoteric religion, politics and overall existential dread. Sonically, it’s the members shared interest in ’50s vocal-harmony groups and sugary retro-pop rhythms that lightens up the absurd, paranoid lyric sheets. On Black Friday, the group released the first of three EPs to be released in 2020.

Once all three are unveiled, a full-length record, including previously unreleased tracks, will compile their complete works. So far, the band has played only a few shadowy shows, including an early test run on the third floor of the TurnerDodge House and a double set at The Robin Theatre in October. “Our live performances are intended to conjure an intimate and irreverently ceremonial vibe,” Rogers explained. “The band performs around a single, large diaphragm condenser microphone. Think ‘O Brother Where Art Thou,’ but with more skulls, robes and candles.” Rogers lyrics are filled with doom and gloom, so why the heavenly ’50s chord structures and sweet doo-wop-inspired vocal harmonies? “The stripped-down acoustic sound puts the focus on the message,” Rogers said.

 “It’s about spreading the good word about the imminent destruction of mankind, by forces outside of our control or comprehension.” The Super Secret Cult Band is unquestionably unique, but the members still tip their hats to spook-rock icons like Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (“I Put a Spell On You”) and Screamin’ Lord Sutch (“Jack the Ripper”). Pair that with the horrorthemed vibes of psychobilly acts like The Coffinshakers, and the vocal stylings of Nickel Creek, and you’re somewhere in the sonic ballpark. “Literary influences like HP Lovecraft and Thomas Ligotti have also been instrumental to this project, along with the classic Universal Studios monster films,” Rogers added.

Where the group truly sets its self apart from the rest is very apparent on its debut EP. The release kicks off with “Fanatical Hoarder” and concludes with “Cult Band” and “Every Conspiracy Theory is True.” While the lyrics are calculatedly absurd, Rogers said they truly reflect niche pockets of actual hysteria that’s been brewing for ages. “The first song tells the story of a doomsday prepper who becomes disenchanted with a life spent waiting for the end of the world,” he said. “The second is an autobiographical song about discovering a sense of purpose in the pages of a musty tome.

The third is an educational number, inspired by some of the more prominent fringe theories of our day.” To sample the tunes, visit super- secretcultband.bandcamp.com or fol- low them on Instagram for videos and images.

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