Locals: Playing to Vapors delivers on the seamless A Glitch In A Void
For Playing to Vapors singer Luke Harris, the way he delivers a lyric can carry even more weight than the actual meaning of the words.
"It's the phonetics of the chosen words, and the stressing of the syllables. Everything plays into it," said Harris, 25, in an early April interview at a downtown coffee shop. "When I'm writing a song maybe I have a specific meaning in mind, but I don't care whether or not the person listening to the song picks up on it as long as the words mean something to them. Whenever someone asks me what a song means I usually ask them back, 'Well, what do you think it means?' Sometimes it's more interesting than what I initially had in mind."
On the band's moody, atmospheric new EP, A Glitch In A Void, the frontman handles these words like molding clay, bending, stretching and shaping notes in a gorgeous falsetto equally capable of knee-buckling power (dig the way he soars into the chorus of "Giant Conspiracy") and heartrending fragility (the wordless moan that kicks off the spacious "You Never Seem Sorry When You're Gone").
"Growing up, I was always singing along to bands like Muse, Radiohead and Rufus Wainwright, and those are the artists that taught me," said Harris, who joins bandmates Zack Cramp (bass), Josiah DePaso (drums), Mike Stokes (guitar) and Daron DiSabato (guitar) for an EP release show at Brothers Drake on Friday, April 10. "I think early on I was trying too hard to be [Radiohead's] Thom Yorke and [Muse's] Matt Bellamy. Now hopefully I'm doing more of my own thing."
Of course, a large part of Harris discovering his own voice was learning to work within the confines of a band. Though the core of Playing to Vapors formed nearly a decade ago, Harris has also released a handful of solo recordings, including the Foolish Children EP, from 2014, and he said ceding some degree of control can still occasionally be a struggle.
"It's a challenge because in a band you're constantly making compromises," said Harris, who was born in North Carolina but has called Columbus home since he was a toddler. "I think it helps to know you're all in it for the same reasons, and you're all trying to shoot for the best song possible."
The steady-push-and-pull between the longtime bandmates is reflected in Playing to Vapors' ever-evolving sound, which flirted with everything from prog-rock to jam before settling into its current form a little more than two years ago.
"It's a big reason we named that  EP Identities, because that first seven or eight years was us struggling to find a voice as a band," Harris said. "That was the first time we were confident in who we were as a band, and knew what direction we wanted to pull in."
Brothers Drake Meadery & Bar
9 p.m. Friday, April 10
26 E. Fifth Ave., Short North
ALSO PLAYING: The Aviary, Montezuma