The first thing you don't notice about Ryan Bonner & The Dearly Beloved's new album Monsters in the Hallway is the lack of drums. Reverb-drenched piano, guitar, and pulsing bass build up on the song "Rise," with Bonner's vocals soaring on an uplifting crescendo, for example — belying the total lack of dedicated percussion.
"We thought of it like a Gillian Welch record, where the bass acts as the percussion," says Bonner, who tracked the six-song EP at his James Island home studio, Blue Curtain Studios. "We wanted to make sounds that you wouldn't expect to hear."
Bonner is a familiar face in the Charleston music scene. He and multi-instrumentalist Cory Jarrett, who plays mandolin and guitar with the Dearly Beloved, often went as many as 14 days straight without a night off.
With a solid disc to vouch for their efforts, they've pushed Bonner's originals with the band, rounded out by bassist Malin Wagnon, pianist Joshua Smoke, and drummer Jack Friel.
"I waited to push my original song career until I really knew what I was doing," says Bonner, who considers his years of singing covers an "invaluable experience."
The walls in Bonner's home are filled with instruments. He makes a point each day to pick up different ones and create new music.
This summer, the Dearly Beloved plan to spread their country-tinged acoustic sounds around the Southeast. Bonner's excited to make music with a band he refers to as the best collection of musicians he's ever played with.
"A bad day at our office is better than a good day in any cubicle," says Bonner. "We're really lucky to do what we do."