Guitarist John Ceparano was holding some flowers one day when a stranger approached, glanced at the blooms in his hands, and asked if they were stargazer lilies. "We thought that was such a cool name for a band," Ceparano remembers. "It informed our sound. We thought, What would a band called the Stargazer Lilies sound like?"
After listening to the group's two fantastic albums — 2013's We Are the Dreamers and this year's Door to the Sun — you can say, in short, really good. A longer diagnosis might sound something like: The Stargazer Lilies sound like dreamy shoegazers reminiscent of the Cocteau Twins and My Bloody Valentine.
The band got its start when, after living in New York City for years, Ceparano and his wife, singer Kim Field, wanted a change. At the time, the two were members of Soundpool, a five-piece band that had grown a bit too dance-oriented and more electronica for Ceparano and Field's taste. "We had a mood shift. We wanted to do something moodier and more melancholy that was also loud and powerful. We wanted it to be simple and stripped-down," Field says. That quest for simplicity prompted their move out of the city and into what they describe as the middle of nowhere in northern Pennsylvania. The isolation gave them the freedom and time to experiment with — and perfect — their sound. "We live in a glass house where we're completely surrounded by nature," Field says.
And all of that nature has proven to be one of the Stargazer Lilies' greatest inspirations. Musically, the duo tends to aim for psychedelica, with much of its sound directly influenced by Pink Floyd. "We're into cosmic, space stuff," Ceparano adds. "We think of ourselves as updated versions of the Jimi Hendrix Experience or Cream. We try to be a three-piece putting out the biggest sound possible, but we keep the future in mind."
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The Lilies' sound will be on full display this Friday at Gramps, when — along with locals Seafoam Walls and Peyote Coyote — they stop by for the Bumblefest pre-party, a celebration of the five year anniversary of the South Florida music publication Purehoney.
Confronted with the observation that his band, with its name and blurred vocals, fits neatly into the '80s Brit music genre known as shoegazing, Ceparano is quick to offer a defense. "Bands like My Bloody Valentine were way ahead of their time. They were doing real rock future with their guitar effects. It took audiences 30 years to catch up with." But after a moment, he relents. "I guess we come across to a lot of people as shoegazer, but to us we're a lot more."
Stargazer Lilies with Seafoam Walls, Peyote Coyote. 9 p.m. Friday, September 16, at Gramps, 176 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Admission is $5.