“Where do we go from here?” was the question Oklahoma City (by way of Northern California) rock band Somerset West faced as it released its debut album, “The Golden Land.”
A full-length disc had always been a goal; it had been since the earliest days when bandleader and guitarist Kyle Lynch lost his brother — and original Somerset West drummer — to a car accident some five years ago. With that goal achieved, no one really knew what to do, and the result was a hiatus of almost an entire year that ends Saturday night at VZD’s.
“I think that my brother was always in the back of everyone’s mind. That was my original goal, really, to write an album as a sort of tribute to him, and maybe that’s a reason why we winded it down as we came to that point,” Lynch said. “We were kind of in a rut, trying to decide what we were going to do.”
Not that finishing an album was the root of all of its problems; Somerset West had released two EPs previously, toured the both coasts and earned a name for itself with a sweaty, earnest, hard alt-rock sound in the vein of Brand New and Manchester Orchestra. It had done all that by conducting itself professionally, not drinking at shows, practicing hard, promoting harder and focusing on playing the best show it could, night in and night out. Although dedication brings a lot, forgetting to have a little fun along the way takes away almost as much.
“Before, it was about being as good as we could possibly be with each show,” Lynch said. “That adds something, but so does being laidback and just enjoying it. We aren’t hustling people to come to shows; the concept is, don’t come because it’s something to do, come because you want to hear the music.”
We were kind of in a rut.
The break helped regain a little focus, and Lynch still helps write the tunes; his focus has shifted away from his brother’s passing to a new place, although he’s not quite sure where that is just yet. What he does know is that everything is pointed in the right direction.
“It wasn’t some entity; it was a hobby, more fun than business. But to be a successful band, you have to have that business outlook, and we sometimes lost the fun part,” he said. “This time around, it feels like we are back to that, just doing what we want to do, despite everything else.”