Fall 2014: The Outsiders Issue | Article on p.18.
Justin Pellecchia of New Hope, Pennsylvania’s Satellite Hearts ruminates on his band’s place in the Philly music scene, “I thought this city forgot what rock and roll was. I felt Philadelphia forgot how to rock.”
Pellechhia is the front man and lead guitarist of the tight-knit rock trio, which includes 25 year old bassist Luca Rinz of Lambertville, New Jersey and 20 year old percussionist Keaton Thandi Flemington, New Jersey.
Pellechia dons wispy shoulder length hair and an arresting, yet comforting disposition. In fact, there’s a captivating sincerity present in all three members – whether its Rinz’s fetching stoicism or Thandi’s wide-eyed enthusiasm.
It’s their unassuming off-stage presence that renders their onstage performance downright disarming.
When it comes to rocking and rolling, Satellite Hearts doesn’t disappoint. They’re the real deal.
And Pellechia, the Yardley, Pennsylvania native, is at the center of it.
His voice - powerful, jolting, and sensitive all in one. On stage, he turns up the charm, Thandi drums up the kick, and Rinz spazzes out. All the way out. Reticence is for the faint of heart when Satellite Hearts turns on.
Satellite Hearts formed in December 2009 in greater New Hope, Pennsylvania. While their first songs were Pellecchia’s creations, many of the songs from their first album, Imperial Green, were created organically. “Keaton will start playing a drum beat, and I the guitar part, and Luke will come in… Most of the times it’s the three of us getting off on each other,” Pellecchia laughs.
Indeed, they know how to groove as a unit, but that was not always the case.
The band added Dre DiMura on lead guitar during the production of their 2013 digital album Four to the Floor. DiMura was invited to join for supplementary depth and layering, something Satellite Hearts thought they needed then.
But the cohesiveness was lacking and Satellite Hearts returned to its three original members. “We realized we had everything we needed to begin with and now we’re working to put us back out there,” Rinz explains.
Keaton chimes in, “I think we all learned our roles better in the three-piece and learned to create more of the sound overall. Not necessarily adding another dynamic. Or a fourth dynamic to the band… but using more dynamics.”
A listen of their releases is bound to strike notes of The Stokes there, The Beatles here, and The Kinks over there - classic rock foundation, riddled with punk rock sensibilities.
Hell, even a bit of Latin over yonder. “Justin takes classical guitar lessons right now. Brazilian style. Flamenco style,” Keaton informs.
Rinz emphasizes the importance of not wanting to be limited musically. “You can find inspiration everywhere. I think that was always a premise of the band when we started. To never be boxed in. It’s very easy to say we have a punky edge to our music. And that’s true. But we draw inspiration from all over, and our feel… where we’re coming from happens to be classic,” he says.
Nonetheless, one of their biggest musical influences hail from their stomping grounds of New Hope. Dean Ween of the eponymous experiential rock band Ween. It was Ween who gave Satellite Hearts their first nod at New Hope haunts such as John & Peter’s. It was Ween who turned to his manager and called them “a real fucking band.”
“Being a Ween fan, that’s the greatest compliment. That means a lot to me,” Thandi says.
Their fanbase in New Hope is as passionate about them as Ween is explicit. Satellite Hearts doesn’t like to view them as fans, but as friends.
However Pellecchia reflects on their humble beginnings in Philadelphia.
“Playing with a bunch of indie bands around here… they have this look and this attitude. I felt like a lot of people didn’t get us. Like they didn’t fully understand what we were. Or what we are,” he says.
He enthusiastically adds, “Now I'm starting to see the changes. We're coming into our own. And the city (Philadelphia) is starting to accept us for us.”
Satellite Hearts is set to release their third album in the fall/winter with a working title of Desire Forces the Flow. They are excited to rock on in the city of Philadelphia and beyond… but they’ll never lose sight that it’s their fans, no, their friends in New Hope that feel like home.