When Bay Area sibling-based alt-pop quartet Torrey wrapped its chiming debut album “Something Happy” in February 2020, it was a hard-earned result after years of struggle.
The recording — being celebrated with a live record release show July 4 at the Balboa Theatre in The City with Torrey and local bands World Smasher, Fake Fruit and The Umbrellas — came after Fremont-born guitarist Kelly Gonsalves and his vocalist-bassist kid sister Ryann Gonsalves had taken a break. Both were focused on separate pursuits; Kelly was working alone in his Sonoma retreat and Ryann busied herself in the San Francisco band scene.
But when drummer Eric Mohammed and lead guitarist Adam Honingford joined the pair, things changed.
“We finally cracked the code, and it was very cool and organic,” says Ryann of Torrey’s quiescently-strummed, vocally-velvet sound.
Then the pandemic altered their plans.
“We literally finished the album, then we played Noise Pop, and then everything shut down. We sat on the album for a year, not really knowing what to do with it; so it’s just been like a big learning experience for us,” says Kelly.
It wasn’t easy to put on a back burner, but both Gonsalves — who had moved Oakland — had day jobs to occupy their down time and keep rent paid and food on the table.
The siblings say the fact that it took them awhile to click as a unit might have something to do with the four-year age difference between the pair.
As a kid, Ryann says she was always in awe of her brother’s musical tastes, and she’d swipe his iPad whenever she could to listen to new artists, like Wolf Parade, The Breeders and Modest Mouse. Then there was the way Thom Yorke’s subtler guitar playing countered the more aggressive style of Jonny Greenwood’s in mid-period Radiohead.
“I remember one thing in particular was hearing that song ‘Evil’ by Interpol,” Ryann says. “We were in our mom’s car, and Kelly put on Interpol, and I was like, ‘Whoa! What is this? It’s creepy, but it’s cool, and I like it!’”
Now, both Gonsalveses can claim their own turf. Kelly has grown fascinated with specific six-string styles, like that of Stereolab’s angular Tim Gane.
Ryann’s approach has grown reminiscent of the majesty of Natalie Merchant, thanks to “Something Happy” producer Sami Perez.
“She is so much fun to work with, she’s like a mad-scientist engineer,” Ryann says. “I’ll be putting down vocals, and Sami’s just twisting knobs and adding layers, and using all of this vintage equipment on me. She works really hard to make something really rad-sounding for all of her artists. She definitely pushes us to sound weirder and keep adding different layers to it.”
Ryann now intuits her brother’s techniques well enough to sense when they’re changing. While “Happy” tracks like “Screens,” “Recycle” and “Something New” jangle, there’s something icy and different on the slow, pensive “Cold Snack.”
“It’s been really cool hearing how Kelly’s environment has influenced his guitar playing,” Ryann says. “We’re working on another record right now, and since he’s moved more toward East Oakland and Alameda, his playing has gotten almost industrial. You can hear a harsher resonance to it.”
While some might have safety concerns about having a record release party so soon after vaccinations, that’s not the case with Torrey.
“I mean, it’s definitely nerve-racking,” Ryann says. “But I am so excited, because the lineup is so great. It’s a cool group of people that we’ve known for a long time, so we’re all going to play our first show together. Our little San Francisco scene is just so positive and supportive and cool.”
IF YOU GO
Torrey, Fake Fruit, The Umbrellas, World Smasher
Where: Balboa Theatre, 3630 Balboa St., S.F.
When: 7:30 p.m. July 4
Tickets: $10 to $12