Track Work: Myrrh Myrrh, ‘Peter Criss’

By Ally Schweitzer


Maryland rock trio Myrrh Myrrh doesn’t identify with any genre in particular. But it’s sure of one thing: The band does not play shoegaze.

“There are shoegaze elements [in our music], but I like to distance myself from that because shoegaze drums are boring,” says member Tyler Butts, 21. “I think our drums are more intricate than that.”

Not surprisingly, Butts is the band’s drummer. Yet he’s right: The trio drifts in a haze like the Valentines, but slouches like Swervedriver, with subtle kit trickery and a wet guitar that sound cribbed from post-rock. Their fondness for chunky noise could stem from a couple of different sources: Butts’ and guitarist Victor Arce’s taste for metal (the two formed a metal band in middle school) and their time as an instrumental act after Myrrh Myrrh’s previous vocalist and bassist, Olivia Vassilas, quit the band.

Those instrumental days are now over: A couple of months ago, Arce and Butts replaced Vassilas with 20-year-old Elliott Dean. He’s heard on “Peter Criss,” a new song the band posted on Bandcamp Wednesday. It’s a rethought version of a tune the group has been kicking around for a year or so; Vassilas wrote its original lyrics, and Dean tweaked them to suit his own purposes.

Ask Dean what “Peter Criss” is about, and he’s a little vague. “Separation,” he says. “Kind of being sad about separation.” (Despite the song’s name, ex-KISS drummer Peter Criss does not emerge as an obvious theme, but the band says they love the guy.) Meanwhile, Butts and Arce say the song—and “Until,” the track that will appear alongside “Peter Criss” on a forthcoming 7-inch and cassette tape—deals with Dean’s contempt of the Eastern Shore, where he lives.

“The Eastern Shore is kind of wack,” Butts says. “So I guess his songs are about trying to get out of there.”

Dean, a Rehobeth resident, doesn’t disagree. “I just really hate it here,” he says.

At least Dean will get a break this weekend, when Myrrh Myrrh embarks on a mini-tour that will take them to Hyattsville, Maryland, followed by New Jersey and New York. Unfortunately for him, though, those shows come after a Friday gig in Salisbury—the largest city on Maryland’s charming Eastern Shore.

Myrrh Myrrh plays Hostage House Saturday with Tare, Southpaws and TrunkWeed.