Bands to Watch 2014: Cliffs

  • Photos by Meghan Ralston
By Columbus Alive
From the January 23, 2014 edition

Cliffs’ debut LP Saturation is, as its title suggests, centered on the concept of immersing oneself in everything life has to offer.

“I guess the album could almost be a chronicle of the Amish when they have to leave their homestead and go out into the world and see what it’s all about (a period known as rumspringa, a Pennsylvania Dutch term that translates roughly to “running around”),” said drummer Adam Hardy, who turns 27 when the clock strikes midnight the evening of this Saturday’s Bands to Watch concert. “That’s a ridiculous comparison, but at least for me that’s what Saturation is doing.”

Both Hardy and singer/guitarist Aaron Cottrell, 26, were raised in religious households, and Cottrell said the idea of growing apart from one’s faith has always been a central element in his songwriting.

“I guess I started losing faith right around the same time I started playing guitar,” said the frontman, who first picked up the instrument as a teenager after watching video of Jimi Hendrix ripping through a version of “Voodoo Chile.” “It’s always been a big idea for me, because it was an important part of my life growing up, and to go against something my entire family believes in was a difficult thing for younger Aaron. Older Aaron has pretty much come to grips with it now.”

Of course, not everything on Saturation is quite so heavy. “E=mc2,” for one, is “Star Wars” fan fiction, written from the point-of-view of Han Solo as he attempts to woo Princess Leia. More true-to-life relationships also factor in heavily, whether the two are drunkenly trying to find love at the bar (the surging, sarcastic “Love at First Sight”) or altering lyrics to match new realities.

“[“To Bonnie from Clyde”] was initially a love song but then things got real,” Hardy said, and laughed. “You change a couple words and now it’s a breakup song. Like that line, ‘Now she’s gone,’ originally it was, ‘Now she’s home.’”

One relationship that’s not in any danger, however, is the one between the two bandmates, who have been close friends since childhood.

“It’s definitely more of a brotherhood,” Cottrell said. “I don’t think we could make the same music with other people.”