"Spend a little, live a lot." As it turns out, this is not just the slogan for a chain of discount supermarket stores. This is how Charly Bliss have spent their year: a little time in the studio has led the band to release an album and an EP, tour around the world, perform sessions for the likes of KEXP and rock an NPR Tiny Desk concert, have their music featured in a hit television show, create their own 24-hour TV channel, and become reality TV stars – and these are just a few of the high points the New York outfit have soared to in the past twelve months. Honestly, we're tired just thinking about it.
"I'm always like, 'we're not doing enough!!!'" Eva Hendricks laughs. "I think I get so in the rhythm of doing a lot that when it stops, I freak out." So, starting their own cooking show and shooting their own version of MTV's Cribs? Just a way to pass their week of downtime before heading to tour Europe and the UK in promotion of their new record. "It's been a really crazy year," Eva agrees. "I'm so proud."
Want to know what life is like at the top of their game? Look no further than 'Innocence Is Bliss', an hour-long reality TV pilot showcasing a day in the life for Charly Bliss: Eva is writing her memoirs. Dan is modelling like it's no one else's business. Spencer is the best DJ you've never seen, and Sam? Give him a harmonica and witness skills like nothing else. It's a wild ride from start to finish, filled with laughs, tears, and an elated resolution (complete with shoutouts to everyone's favourite cereal – Hall and Oates – and Eva's favourite author – DJ Salinger), and one we're desperate to see more of.
"Our reality TV show?" Eva grins. "I feel like you haven't seen the end of it. I think we've got to do more," she enthuses. Yes, it might be turning the drama up to eleven, but it's also Charly Bliss as they were always meant to be seen: having the time of their lives doing what they love, and inviting everyone else along for the ride. "I think it'd be pretty narcissistic of me to think anyone would care about my memoir at this point," Eva comments of her caricature in the show, "but I do really, really want to write a book."
"I do honestly really want to write a book, and I plan on trying to do that next year, but I feel like I shouldn't tell anyone that because now they'll always just reference 'Ignorance Is Bliss'," Eva laughs. Already on your third extension, huh? "Exactly!" she exclaims. "I spent all my advance on rosé." As for Spencer's already-infamous DJ single (featuring the immortal line "don't have to be in Incredibles 2, 'cause I'm feeling so incredible too"), a release may actually be in the works. "Maybe we should do it for the holidays as a gift," Eva mulls. "I'll talk to DJ Spenny."
This imagined pilot is just a drop in the ocean of what Charly Bliss have achieved this year. "I will never forget the show that we played in London a couple of days after the album came out," Eva recalls. "The album is so personal. I think it almost didn't occur to me that everyone is going to hear it," she explains. "Looking out at that show and seeing that people already knew the words to the songs even though it'd only been out for a couple of days, and seeing that people were already connecting to the singles..." she describes. "It was a wake-up call, but in the best way possible, and I feel like it just continued on from there."
With the release of 'Young Enough' in May, Charly Bliss made the leap from bubblegum rock charmers to power pop sensations. "It's been a big year of change for us, personally, even after the record has come out," Eva expresses. "A lot of the time when I'm writing lyrics I don't fully know what the story of the album's going to be until it's done. Even now, months out from that, I feel like I see even more." Crafting songs with instantly catchy hooks, to forge a record that grows and evolves as you do, Charly Bliss are a force to be reckoned with.
"I'll listen back and realise there were certain things that I was able to voice in a song before I was able to voice to myself," Eva portrays. "Writing a song like 'Chatroom' I didn't necessarily feel as strong as that song lets on," she explains. A song the band describe as "a celebration of reaching the point of a 'fuck you' that isn't diluted by self-blame or apologies," it might not have started out this way, but the track has become an anthem showcasing Charly Bliss at their most empowered. "It's not like I'm always in this constant state of being like 'the person who abused me: fuck them! I'm strong, and I've moved past it!'" Eva admits. "I feel like that in some moments. I hope I can feel like that more often."
"The longer the record's been out, the more I do feel like that," she continues. "I look out, and I see people singing back those lyrics, and it just makes me feel like the person who did that to me can't hurt me any more. It's bigger than them now." By taking the risk of wearing their hearts on their sleeves, the band have found an elated sense of freedom. "Instead of it being this dark thing in my life, that used to feel like it completely had total control over me," Eva portrays. "It's this vehicle for connection with other people in a really meaningful way. That's really special."
From Brooklyn to Berlin, Manchester to Melbourne, Saskatoon to Singapore, and beyond, Charly Bliss have the world at their feet. "The highlight of this year for me," Eva states, "has been travelling around the world and seeing that somehow this thing that I started with my brother and two of my best friends has grown in scope to the degree that we can go halfway around the world and have people care, singing along to our songs, and fully understanding where we're coming from."
"You can't really control who's going to respond to your music and who's going to care about it and who's going to get it," she adds. True enough, though there's no doubt that Charly Bliss fans are among some of the most entertaining on the internet. Don't believe us? Search 'Charly Bliss Potato' for all the evidence you'll ever need – and then some. "Charly Bliss Potato is one of the best things to come out of this year!" Eva exclaims.
What started out as a mistranslated headline (or at least, that's the most logical explanation anyone has for it) has become something else entirely. A fanbase? A movement? A series of funny-as-hell memes? Who knows? "I'll never understand it. I don't even know that I want to," Eva beams. "Usually the internet is like a burning garbage fire, but I feel like Charly Bliss fans took this and made it into something beautiful." An apt description, coming from the band who turned one of the darkest moments in their life into a shimmering pop anthem. It's not been an easy road – far from it, in fact – but after all their hard work, Charly Bliss are watching their dreams come true.
"When we were about to go into the studio to record 'Young Enough', I remember having this feeling of my brain being totally emptied out," Eva recalls. "I was like 'oh my god, if someone held a gun to my head and asked me to write a song right now, I don't think I could write another one," she laughs. Six months on, and everything has changed. "I feel the opposite of that right now," she enthuses. "I feel really, really excited for whatever's coming next for us."
So what does happen next? As we enter into a new decade, the possibilities are limitless. "I would really hope that we figure out teleporting," Eva deadpans. "If you could teleport to your show then teleport back home and sleep in your own bed?" she questions. "That would be pretty nice." Of course, the band also have slightly more grounded aspirations for the next decade. "I would hope that we just continue to enjoy making music with each other and feel like our relationships are getting stronger and that we're growing together," Eva describes. "I think that's really all I could hope for." Though she's quick to add that "I would also hope that we'd still have the Potatoes by our side - I think that would be a pretty nice version of the future."
On a mission to "continue to push and challenge ourselves," and to "write a total pop banger," what we've seen this year is Charly Bliss becoming comfortable in their own skin. Now they know who they are, they're capable of anything. "This is a record that's about coming out of a really dark moment in my life, growing up, and growing into the kind of person that I want to be," Eva illustrates. "I think the more we play it for people, and the more I see that people respond to it and understand it and connect with it, the less alone I feel." To paraphrase one of the greats: here's looking at you, Bliss.
Taken from the December 2019 / January 2020 issue of Upset.
Featuring The Faim, Creeper, Frank Iero, SWMRS, Pup and more.