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A refreshing lack of pretense
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Over the past few years, our local music scene has grown by leaps and bounds.

Arguably, there are now many more original bands in our immediate area than ever before – and yet for some reason, the actual variety of music being offered has noticeably decreased.

One reason for this must surely be the increasing tendency of the so-called “alternative” genre to play follow-the-leader, endlessly cranking out virtual clones of whatever the fifteen most popular bands of the moment seem to be. That short-sighted and cannibalistic approach trickles down to all save the most fervently nonconformist scenes (of which ours used to be, but sadly, is no more).

However, occasionally, a group will rise up unexpectedly from the dross to casually go against the grain – cutting neatly through the pretenders like so much dry straw.

That’s the position Savannah’s neophyte rockers Hot Pink Interior occupy.

A trio which recently grew to become a quartet, the group includes founding members Robyn Reeder (drums), Amy Ochoa (rhythm guitar) and Sebastian Edwards (bass). Their newest addition: lead guitarist of fortune Craig Johansen, who – like Edwards – has logged time in a number of notable local rock groups over the past two decades, including And Sometimes Why, Splitfinger and Glasspack.

While the group has appeared a handful of times as a three-piece in the eleven months since their first public gig, their profile has increased dramatically since a they played two large parties in the downtown area last month: parties that were ostensibly invitation only, but which wound up drawing a veritable who’s who of local artists, business people, scenemakers and bon vivants.

It was quite a sight to see folks from their twenties to their sixties bopping their heads to the group’s infectious punk-tinged pop music, which owes an acknowledged debt to the heyday of indie guitar rock (1984-1993).

Reeder assumes the root of their appeal lies in their lack of pretense.

“There are only a few girl-driven bands in Savannah, so we’re making the scene more dynamic. I think it’s also apparent we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I guess we are adding more color to the music scene, mostly pink.”

The group – which marks Reeder and Ochoa’s first such experience – was originally conceived as an all-girl band, but that proved rather difficult to launch.

“Robyn had asked Laura from Kylesa to be in it with us,” recalls Ochoa. “But they were getting ready to tour, so she declined, and we wound up asking Seb to play with us, thinking we’d find a girl eventually. We initially called him our ‘Sebstitute bassist,’ but it didn’t take me long to realize that he was the perfect person for the job, and I just said, dude, you’re not going anywhere!”

Robyn agrees that despite abandoning their initial concept, everything has worked out for the best.

“Amy and I got along so great that we didn’t want to mess up the vibe. I think of Sebastian and Craig as the nicest guys in Savannah. We all love hanging around each other and playing together.”

Echoes Ochoa, “I don’t care who’s in it as long as we have a good band.”

And, while the group is still finding its sea legs, it’s obvious even at this stage in their development that they are a good band, with great potential.

Their catchy, upbeat sound is instantly reminiscent of such groups as The Breeders, Madder Rose and middle-period Liz Phair (they sometimes throw a Liz Phair cover in their sets), and Amy says that despite each member’s eclectic tastes in music, they all enjoy playing this crunchy, vaguely retro guitar pop.

“I love metal and old country and all kinds of different music, but I feel more drawn to actually playing the type of music we do, and I think we all are. It’s frivolous in a way, but it’s poppy and fun, and it makes people bounce around!”

Reeder adds, “I personally am influenced by Thee Headcoatees which we often cover and other girl garage bands like The Delmonas, The Pandoras and more recently, The Donnas. Since I’m new to the drums, I tend to play simpler beats which just happen to line up with the type of music that I want to play.”

Meanwhile, Johansen, an old hand who’s usually known for being a focal point in his groups, is relishing his role in the shadows, adding vocal harmonies and guitar licks while Ochoa fronts the band.

“Robyn and Amy are so new to this, it’s still really fresh and exciting to them, and that’s very refreshing. It kind of keeps you on your toes. I really enjoy it.”

Ochoa sums up the experience so far by saying it’s already more satisfying and gratifying than she thought it could be.

“Robyn and I both gave each other something nobody else had ever given us before – an opportunity to play.”

Hot Pink Interior plays The Jinx Friday.