Thursday, August 4, 2011

Interview: Conductive Alliance

By Andrew Hertzberg

(Credit: Facebook)
I gotta say, one of the perks to blog writing is seeing a band live and being able to go up them after a show and say, “Hey, we should probably talk a bit.” So it was on a Saturday evening some nights back I was introduced to Conductive Alliance at the Subterranean. The former four piece-now-duo sets a dynamic pace akin to post rock bands, darker tones on the aural spectrum, and more than a hint of math rock influence. I had a chance to sit and snag some drinks at a Polish dive on Western Ave. with Corey and Eli and talk a little bit about the bands background, the transition after losing members and rock formations. 

Catch Conductive Alliance live at the Hideout this Sunday August 7th ($8, 21+) when they open for Canasta and Johnny Rodgers. You can buy their EP Water Glyphs here, or check out some tracks on their Facebook page.

WCR: Give us some background on the band.

Eli: Well, the band started in 2007 when me and a good buddy of mine started playing acoustic instrumental music. From that we grew into a three piece with a percussionist. Eventually a four piece with an upright bass so there was two guitars, an upright bass and percussion, and it was all instrumental music. We released an EP as that band which was all recorded live in one day. That was sort of the art, we were all about being in the moment, improvising and having loose song structures, similar to jazz. We’d have a melody in the beginning, improv in the middle and a melody in the end and sort of bookend it that way. At a certain point we wanted to start to expand our sound, I started playing more electric guitar and we wanted a kit drummer, so we threw something up on Craigslist and it was so lucky to find Corey, you know, it’s always a crapshoot on Craigslist, but we got extremely lucky with Corey. He just moved here from DC, literally, I think I contacted him when he was loading his U-Haul to move out to Chicago from DC. So he came in and we just had good energy, he’s a great guy and an incredible musician so we started working as a four piece with Corey and continued to expand our sound to more and more electronic music, implementing synths, electric bass and now we’re pretty much an electronic band. What started as an instrumental acoustic band changed a lot.

Right now you are a duo. You mentioned some other members before. What’s that transition been like going from a fuller band to a duo? 

Corey: We’re actually being told by a lot of people our sound is more full which is something I felt might have been true. We didn’t lose two of our members at the same time. We lost one of them one year, one the next; they’re both in New York now. There were some challenges we faced that were a little daunting at first about how to do this as a two-piece, were we gonna be able to recreate it or something that stood up to it. It’s been really exciting because it’s really been a challenge for us to stretch out further outside of our abilities. A lot of our rehearsals have been geared around how to play this stuff live and incorporate a lot of new technologies, samplers, things like that. 

So do you anticipate remaining a duo? Are you looking for new members?

Eli: I like the way we’re working right now, it’s pretty rad. What we’re doing is all of the recording up front so the process is record the tracks and get them exactly how we want to hear them. Some of the tracks may be fifty layers of tracks per song.

Just between the two of you?

Eli: Yeah, so we’ve been working in the studio a whole lot. We’ve sort of reverse engineered the songs to do them live. So we’ll cut the parts up that we need to play live and decide what we want to play as live instruments or we could sample and balance it so it’s still entertaining and still a living, breathing performance. It’s not all canned. We have been discussing bringing in other musicians, like having a live bassist instead of a sampled bass. Even just additional percussionists, doing more percussion, it’s really rad to have multiple percussionists on stage. So I think in the near future we’re gonna bring in some more musicians. 

So was recording in one day, was that a conscious decision? Like, was it a philosophical / musical decision?

Eli: It’s just the way we work as a band. We would get together and practice often. We just got to the point as a band where we could do that. Our music has a lot of ebb and flow to it and so we never gave it a second thought, that’s just what we did. We wanted to get to a point where we could lay it down and we could go walk into a show and play the same songs on the album.

What other local bands have you played with or would like to play with? What about favorite venues?

Corey: Yourself and the Air is definitely one, we love them, they’re good friends of ours, and we just love that band. The [Empty] Bottle’s always good. This is our debut show at the Hideout. We’re pretty excited about that because we’ve had our eye on it for a long time. We like a lot of DIY venues like Mortville. We haven’t played Ball Hall yet but we always have fun there. 

Eli: Schubas was great. 

Corey: Eli’s apartment. That’s one of my favorites. 

Who are your biggest influences?

Corey: Bear in Heaven. We both really love their album, it’s been a huge influence on us. We went to see them right before they got big. They came to town, we hadn’t even heard of them, but we went, and it wasn’t like immediately “this band’s our favorite,” we were sort of scratching our heads. But they’re geniuses, it was an aftershock. That album, Beast Rest Forth Mouth, it just doesn’t get old. The sounds they’re using…we like a lot of dark sounds. I think in earlier phases we were separately into various math rock, Battles, all the staples, Don Cab, but some of our recent unreleased stuff doesn’t manifest that as much. I think there’s a little bit of math in the songs, but it’s taking a different turn from where we were.

So what is a water glyph?

Eli: A water glyph is a glyph carved into rock, found in the southwest, that points towards the closest source of water.

Any particular reason for the album title?

Corey: Eli’s a nature boy [laughs].

Eli: We were trying to find names for the EP and Nick and I were actually in the Shape Shop when we were mixing the album, and I think I was looking up something on the grand staircase, which is the geological formation that goes from the Grand Canyon up the Colorado River, called the strata rock, and we were looking up images from Bryce Canyon and it said something about water glyphs. So it was like “Hey, man, what do you think about this name Water Glyphs?” And initially I was like “Yeah, that’s a great song name” so it became a song and when we put [the EP] out, it was “Let’s just name this EP water glyphs, it has a nice ring to it.”

No comments:

Post a Comment