The Davenport Collective is a loosely organized community of artists, musicians and poets from Cleveland who all call the studio space in a Lakewood office building their home. That's where local indie rockers the Village Bicycle got their start.
Back at the beginning, bandleader Liz Kelly was one of only a handful of women to be part of the collective.
"I had been part of the Davenport for a long time," says Kelly from the kitchen of the Old Brooklyn home where the band has assembled for an early evening rehearsal. "I played in the Dreadful Yawns and several other groups. For the most part, I was one of maybe three women. There were so many guys."
She says the group didn't start out as an all-female group but evolved into it by circumstance. As a result, it makes the band sound "grittier," as keyboardist Karah Vance puts it. A song like "Turtle Dove" is a good example of the band's distinctive sound. It starts with hushed vocals and R2D2-like synthesizer bleeps and blips. Eventually, the tempo escalates and the layered vocals become more animated as the guitars become louder. The Breeders make for a good reference point.
"We also like the Raincoats and Elastica and Britpop," says Kelly. "Nineties female-inspired bands are our go-to sources for inspiration."
Since forming in 2010, the band has shared bills with acts such as Bleached, the Black Belles, Gardens and Villa, Cloud Nothings, Death of Samantha, Rubblebucket, La Luz, the Suzan and Herzog. To date, the band has released only one single and one album, but as anyone who's caught their live shows will testify, the small catalog doesn't matter.
Recently, band members realized they have "hard-hitting, fast, punk-y songs" but not much in terms of slower material, so the group is trying to work on its dynamics. It's just completed a music video for the single "She's a Hero," a song about Kelly's experience recovering from a car accident in which she broke more than a handful of bones. The folks at the local studio Bad Racket handled production duties for the music video.
"It's been tumultuous," says Kelly when asked about the band's tenure so far. "We were stalled for a while. Two of the band members decided to move on so we had to scrap an entire album and move on. We still play some of the songs live."
But despite being part of the city's male-dominated indie rock scene, the women say the band has been well received.
"We want to be noticed for our talent and not our looks," says Vance. "The name of the band has a real irony to it. The name of the band addresses what it's like to be a woman playing music."