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Dark With An Indigo Lining: A Chat with Chicago's The Bellwether Syndicate

18 May 2023

Finally out, after six years in the making, Vestige & Vigil is truly a distillation of life in the modern age, made timeless by the deep truths conveyed in the work, whether by word or by note. I sat down with William and Sarah Rose Faith to find out more about the album, the band, and the world of The Bellwether Syndicate.

What a cool name for a band. Does it have any deeper meaning, or is it simply a great name?

William: Thanks! The meaning can be taken at face value: Bellwether, meaning a leader or indicator of trends, and Syndicate meaning a group of individuals or organizations combined to promote some common interest. In a nutshell, it suggests that we’re here to show you what tomorrow looks like.

Sarah: The name has also become a bit of a conversation in and of itself, as we’ve learned that the word “bellwether” is not so widely known and often requires defining (and pointing out that it is only one word and does not include the letter “a.”) I’m determined to get the hashtag #thereisnoainbellwether trending. (You heard her kids, get on that immediately)

How did the band come together, and what musical paths have the various members taken to get here?

William: After Faith and the Muse, I wanted to get back to playing more straightforward rock ‘n’ roll. I moved to Chicago to be with my now wife Sarah Rose Faith, and it all kicked off from there.

Sarah: Having been a nightclub D.J. for many years, I’d been thinking about being on “the other side” of music for a while and playing in a band, so when William broached the subject with me, I was excited, plus who better to teach me to play guitar than him?

Musically, you fit right into my record collection’s cooler and older end. Are there any specific and conscious influences at work, both musically and otherwise?

William: My influences are vast and varied, and I think they all come to bear on the work in some way, so it’s hard to point to any one thing, as I consciously avoid anything that is too obvious or derivative. It’s important to me to keep it fresh and vital; I’ve no interest in sounding retro or “classic” — it has to be grounded in today — otherwise, I’m not interested.

Recent singles “Dystopian Mirror” and “Beacons” pave the way for a new album, _Vestige & Vigil. What can we expect from it in terms of sound and message?_

William: We’ve been calling this album “songs of celebration, loss and liberation,” which really fits. I was expecting this album to be much more political in theme, but what ended up coming out is the most deeply personal album I’ve ever made. Vestige & Vigil is really in two parts: “Vestige” is an acknowledgment of what remains, of what we have left. “Vigil” holds space to honor what we’ve lost — and there’s a lot.

Your debut ep, The Night Watch, was nine years ago. What has changed in those years in how you write and record music?

William: The writing process always evolves, and it’s never the same way twice for me. However, the hurdles we had to clear to get this album finished were massive in scale and scope — everything that could have gone wrong did. Often twice. It’s a small miracle that it got done at all, but I’m very satisfied with the result.

Recording-wise, I was happy to be back working with my co-producer and mix engineer Chad Blinman. His input is invaluable, and he really helps me avoid getting too stuck in my own head during the process, as objectivity is the first casualty when you’re working on your own music. I can produce, record and mix other people’s music all day long and still remain objective because it’s not mine, but once I get into my own work, there’s too much of me in it, and I lose the forest for the trees. Ultimately, I follow my own advice and bring Chad in to co-produce with me, as he really keeps me on course.

How has the last decade or so in Chicago been, and how do you find life and the music scene there compared with Los Angeles, where you lived before The Bellwether Syndicate?

William: Chicago is amazing; I love it here. I’d always said that Chicago is one of the five cities in the U.S. that I could live in — the other four being L.A., S.F., N.Y., and Boston. Life here is great, and as Sarah is a Chicago native, I get to see the place through her eyes and experience, which is a luxury most transplants rarely get access to. Musically, it’s a vibrant city with a lot of diversity in the music scene. It doesn’t have the scale of L.A., but it’s no less passionate or engaged.

It’s always a challenge to bring your music to the masses. Do you have a team to help you get the word out? How have folks been reacting to your new music?

William: The team at Nexilis Records is family to us, and, in my case specifically, I go back more than 30 years with some of those guys, so it’s a very comfortable fit. Shauna at Shameless Promotion PR has been a godsend for us, as she really walks the walk and goes to bat for her clients and gets the job done — all with a smile. The reaction to the album thus far has been stellar. It’s a fairly diverse group of songs (I get bored easily), so I genuinely feel there’s a little something for everyone here.

Can you tell us about your forthcoming tour with Clan of Xymox? Have you played with them before? Are any other bands involved?

William: I think this is our fourth (and likely final) tour supporting Clan of Xymox. I’ve been friends with Ronny for almost 25 years now, so it’s another family situation, but it’s time to give other bands a chance to support them.

Sarah: Touring with Clan of Xymox has been amazing, and we’re grateful to have done it & looking forward to this upcoming run of shows with them. It astounds me that Ronny’s voice is note-perfect night after night after night- truly a master of his artistic crafts. It’s a great feeling to be both a colleague and a fan of a band I’ve loved for decades.

And what does the next year or so hold for you and the band, personally and creatively?

William: We’ll be touring the band as far and wide as we can — it’s all about touring for me. Getting to see and connect with everyone during a live show is the best part of it. We’ll take it as far as we can.

thank you for taking the time to talk to be and best of luck with the album and everything else you are doing.

Order the ‘Vestige & Vigil’ LP
Golden Age
Order the single
We All Rise
Dystopian Mirror