Lymbyc Systym, consisting of brothers Mike and Jared Bell can trace their professional and musical history to some of their earliest musical memories. Like countless musicians of all stripes, Mike Bell recalls growing up in a Phoenix-area household where music was almost always playing on the stereo – and it would generally be Paul Simon, the Beatles and other legendary recording artists. But it wasn’t until the late 80s-early 90s when hip hop had its amazing heyday as the popularity of the genre grew exponentially that both Bell brothers had an insatiable urge to create music in some way. At the time, being heavily influenced by Vanilla Ice both Mike and Jared started their first band, a hip hop group of sorts with a beaten up and destroyed toy drum set and guitar, and a Casio keyboard. With this rather inauspicious start, both brothers started experimenting with the sounds and ideas which would later become actual songs as they started playing real instruments and developed a greater understanding of music. However, that sense of playful and childlike experimentation has remained in their music, even as both brothers grew up, started playing real instruments and began performing earnestly.
Originally, the band started off with a number of names that both brothers couldn’t completely agree on. As Mike Bell recalls it, he was taking a psychology course in a Phoenix area-based community college and he came across the term limbic system in a psychology textbook. “The term refers to the emotional center of the brain,” Bell mentioned. For Bell, limbic system – or lymbyc systym – was perfectly fitting for the type of music him and his brother had been working on, as he describes their music as it appeals to the primal and emotional center of one’s being while also simultaneously appealing to one’s intellect. Although both Mike and Jared Bell can claim Pink Floyd and 60s jazz, along the lines of John Coltrane and others, as they have fairly identical tastes in music, Mike Bell can also easily describe Lymbyc Sysytm as having some sonic similarity to a band such as Sigur Ros.
Currently, both members of the band are in different parts of the country with Mike, a former NYU student back in Phoenix, after a brief stint in Austin while Jared, recently moved to New York about a year ago and has found a home in Park Slope, Brooklyn. We recently caught up with Mike Bell over the phone somewhere on Interstate 95 between North Carolina and Washington DC, as Bell has been on a lengthy tour performing with several of his label mates such as Crystal Castles before he catches up with his brother and starts Lymbyc Systym’s tour. As he readily admits, he’s spent “3 days home since April.” And the non-stop touring continued as Lymbyc System began a tour that continued this past weekend in Brooklyn’s Union Hall playing alongside Cush and Wires Under Tension. In fact, for both of the Bells, Union Hall has quickly become a home away from home because the setting is so comfortable.
In addition to their tour, Lymbyc Systym is working on a new album. Bell describes their newest effort as being very different. Whereas Carved by Glaciers was their “first experiment with electronic manipulation and production,” he feels that the new album will have much more focus in their compositions – all of which have become an “evolution of their sound.” Both Bells learned and improved their guitar playing and they have incorporated several other musicians to play horns, drums, strings and guitars which should add a great complexity to their sound, Look for them on tour in a city near you and look for their new record when it drops in the fall!