Rare Creatures is a fairly new venture in the Charleston music scene, but the four-piece band's founder, Coleman Sawyer, has been around for quite some time.
The Chucktown native, who grew up on the Isle of Palms, was an integral founding member of Stop Light Observations and played bass in the band for more than five years. Sawyer parted ways with the local breakout project amicably in 2016 after finishing up the full-length album "Toogoodoo."
"We wanted different things out of it. I feel like leaving, they were able to pursue it a lot easier and I didn’t have to bend what I wanted to do. When I quit Stop Light, I was honestly at the point of like, 'OK, I’m just going to do carpentry and I’m just not going to play music anymore,'" says Sawyer, who has now quit his carpentry job and is studying audio engineering online at Berklee while interning at Fairweather Studio in James Island.
"I was getting to the point where I was a little bit — not jaded — but not loving what I was doing at that point in general. And not just with the band. So, I didn’t play guitar for months. I didn’t do anything, and that used to be my life beforehand. I was so convinced that 'Yeah, this is kind of it.' I was like, 'I don’t need that.'"
Last February, Sawyer picked the guitar back up for a random solo gig. That's when it all came flooding back.
"That's when I was like ... 'I need that, big time.'"
Sawyer also needed a little help from his friends outside of Stop Light to create his vision, so he connected with a former kindergarten classmate at Sullivan's Island Elementary, Hugh Camp, to play bass and bass synth. Joining the two now are Logan Crank on drums and Keller James on guitar.
When the group first started gigging around town, they still had not yet come up with a band name. The moniker "Rare Creatures" emerged after John Kenney from The Royal American urged Sawyer to pick a name so he could book the act properly.
"He came up and was like, 'Hey, I really like you guys. You have to get a band name,'" says Sawyer with a laugh.
The band's first time playing as Rare Creatures was in July. Since then, they've frequented The Royal American and Purple Buffalo and played shows at The Pour House and Music Farm as well. Since joining his first professional project, Camp has been introduced properly to the local music scene.
"I was listening to tons of music but none from Charleston," says Camp. "Now that I’m playing shows with other bands from town, I’m like, 'Oh man, there were good bands here all along!' I should have just been trying to find the local ones. It’s definitely something that I feel like I need to work on more and then it’d be cool if everyone worked on more."
Now, Rare Creatures has a collection of 17 original songs they can play live, though they have no recordings available physically or digitally. In fact, their first public premiere is today via a live video session with B-Side Sessions at Fairweather Studio. Watch below!
Rare Creatures recorded three songs during the session, which will all be released soon.
The project thrives off dynamics, opening with acoustic guitar and soft harmonics and then building up slowly amid atmospheric reverb, electric guitar blasts, intense drumming and a synth soundtrack. Each track is its own separate creation, and while some are entirely electric guitar, others are all acoustic.
"We kind of don’t want people to hear something and think, 'Oh, I really identify with this or like this' and hear something else and be expecting that same thing," says Sawyer. "I don’t know. It’s a tough line to follow trying to diversify your sound. You find a band like Kings of Leon, and if every song sounded completely different they wouldn’t be who they are, but I think we’re trying to toe that line."
Rare Creatures also will be releasing a music video for track "After the Fall" in the new year. It was filmed by members of the band at Glenville Gorge, North Carolina, just outside of Asheville, in less than 24 hours.
"The song itself is about being 25 and getting on your own feet finally and just trying to figure out what you’re going to do for your life," says Sawyer, who is at a bit of a crossroads himself as he pursues audio engineering and this new project.
"Honestly, I try not to have goals," says Sawyer. "I think that being driven by being goal-oriented works really well for some people but if you get too far ahead of yourself with it, you’re ultimately going to let yourself down."
Eventually, Sawyer wants to do music full-time in some aspect, but for now, he's content with just jamming with his friends and loving music again.
"We’re all playing together not purely based on musical experience or skill level at one particular thing. We all really like each other, so it’s always fun. It’s the most important thing."