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Cardinal Bloom Feature

Indie rockers talk highlights and future plans


  • Clark Clifford Photo

Things have been moving fast for SLC quartet Cardinal Bloom. Since their debut EP in 2019, the four friends have won Velour's Battle of the Bands, released several popular singles and gained a dedicated following. There's no plan of slowing down for the young indie rock group— and that's just fine.

Members Josh Thomas (lead guitar), Nathan Adair (drums), Jacob Sylvester (bass/vocals) and Joey St. John (lead vocals/guitar) met and formed Cardinal Bloom while studying what they love in college: music. But it was still just that: studying. Playing together offered a respite from the difficulties of college, and gave them a way to escape.

Since then, Cardinal Bloom has accomplished so much. Taking home the win in the aforementioned Battle of the Bands was a surreal moment for the group. "It was like a fever dream," St. John said. "It felt not real the whole time, and every part of us was like, "If we didn't win, we didn't win, but we had a good time and hopefully we got some more fans out of it.' And then we heard our name."

This win was massive for Cardinal Bloom, finally feeling like they accomplished something big. At the same time, they realized they needed to continue to capitalize on this momentum. "I think we all realized after we won, it was exciting, but then literally that same night we're like, 'We've got to go to work now. We can't squander this," Thomas said.

And work they did. The group has been putting out music consistently that has yielded major hits with listeners. One of their most recent singles, "She's Just a Friend," has quickly gained thousands of streams, and for good reason. To start, the subject matter is very relatable to anyone who has been in a "situationship," or has had a love life that's fraught with dysfunction.

"It was definitely about a real girl that I was very much into," St. John shared. "It was just one of those periods of, we're not dating or we're not together, but we kind of like each other, but we don't want to act on it."

The song starts out with soft guitar playing, already conveying a sense of longing and melancholy, before St. John's cozy and smooth vocals come in. The lyrics throughout will have you majorly in your feelings: "Let's go out tonight / Got me feeling right / Did you feel the tension rise / You've got bottled up love in your eyes," St. John serenades. "89 to Salt Lake / Tell your parents you're staying out late / And if they find us in the back of the car / She's just a friend except tonight it went too far."

Another of the band's latest tracks, "Under the Oak Tree," has helped them grow more with its upbeat summer sound. While winning Battle of the Bands was a surreal experience, building up a fanbase has been quite another. The band has noticed an evolution from a few years ago, when they would play to crowds with little to no interaction. People would stand around, arms folded, heads nodding here and there, not completely engaged. Now, however, fans sing their songs louder than the band itself at times.

"Those moments are so cool and so exciting and weird," Thomas said. "I definitely think it was my parents at first, and then it was my parents and a couple friends [at shows]," St. John added. "Now it's just a crowd of 200, 300 people that are all singing it, and then it's louder than us on stage and it's very weird, but enjoyable for sure."

All of the praise for their music—and hearing fans enjoy their material—has added fuel to the fire for Cardinal Bloom. They're eager to get back in the studio and get to work, which should be happening soon. "I would definitely say we're really hoping for late June/early July for another single," St. John said.

The band notes that recording in-studio is like being a kid in a candy store—a much more exciting experience than anything at home. They'll be hitting June Audio in Provo to work on new stuff, the goal being more singles, an EP and possibly a full album. The sky seems to be the limit for Cardinal Bloom.

Moving forward, fans can expect a few more tracks like "Under the Oak Tree" and "She's Just a Friend," but the group also wants to get more "experimental," as they put it; "Almost using our degrees a little bit more," St. John said. All of their music though, at its core, is still relatable enough for listeners to resonate with. "Everything that we write about is very honest and very personal, and hopefully that can be reflective to whoever's listening," Thomas said.

Cardinal Bloom has the fans, the talent and most importantly—the drive to keep moving onward and upward. Nothing can stop them now.