Some bands are good. Some bands are so good that when they perform live they inspire musicians in the audience to start bands of their own.
Such was the case when Eugene musician Tatiana Havill Affatati caught a local show from Portland slow-core metal band Blackwater Holylight.
“I decided to start the band while watching the show,” she tells me over the phone.
Affatati’s vision was of a band that was really dark and also feminine. “I wanted to try something different, that also had a really strong visual aspect tied to it,” she says. “It all felt like a really strong concept.”
The band she’s talking about is Filomena, a Eugene/Portland-based three-piece that shares Blackwater Holylight’s soft and atmospheric take on riff-heavy hard rock. For the band, Affatati enlisted her old friend, Portland musician Ariel Bushnell, on guitar and Eugene musician Jenn Grunigen on drums.
“Ariel and I have been playing music together for like 14 years,” Affatati says. “We’ve known each other since we were really young: singing together, playing all sorts of stuff together.”
Grunigen plays drums in a variety of projects around Eugene. “We’ve just gotten very close as a group,” Affatati says, calling it a really great dynamic.
Filomena has yet to release any recorded material, but they’re finishing up their debut EP at Track Town Records while also performing regularly around Eugene and Portland. The band hopes to have the EP ready by May 1, just in time to embark on a five-city spring tour.
“It’s a very tight timeline,” Affatati says. The experience of recording the EP really opened her eyes to all the work that goes into a studio project, but it seems like everything’s falling together, she says.
Filomena is definitely influenced by early metal music, Affatati continues, from bands like Black Sabbath to Judas Priest.
“We want to be heavy, we want to have metal influence,” she explains. “That’s one of the sounds we are playing with.”
This metal influence gets them booked on a lot of bills with heavy metal bands, but Filomena doesn’t go to that level of volume and distortion, Affatati says.
Clocking in at about 30 minutes, the EP is only four songs long, with plenty of space for Filomena’s droning and dirge-like space rock — the occult-curious tone of heavy metal alongside the hardcore quiet of bands like Low.
“The feelings are hard rock,” she goes on, but Filomena takes a softer, gentler approach. The band is more interested in depth and emotion than volume, Affatati says.
“It’s the intensity that feels right to me,” she says, calling Filomena dark but not death-obsessed. “We all grew up with a strong connection to the forest and the woods. We’re focused on nature.”
This fall, the members of Filomena will be going their separate ways. Affatati is relocating to Portland for grad school, just in time for Bushnell to move to New York City. But the band will continue making music, she says, one way or the other.
“That’s just what we do,” Affatati says. “Musical best friends forever.”
Filomena with Cortége TX and Synaptic
Saturday, April 27 • 9 pm
$5 • 21-plus