Onward Crispin Glover avoids the rampant break-up bug.

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Onward Crispin Glover avoids the rampant break-up bug.

About a month ago, To Conquer?, which featured former members of Haloshifter, The Hillary Step and Thestringandreturn, became the latest local all-star group to burn out far too quickly when it ended its agonizingly brief run with a seemingly contentious farewell show at The Hurricane. For whatever reason (most likely divided attention due to overabundant side projects and/or irreconcilable conflicts between two or more strong-willed members used to calling the songwriting shots in their previous bands), such impressively rostered acts usually disintegrate before they even become eligible for the Pitch's Best New Band award. It's unsurprising, perhaps -- like all-star pro-sports games, star-studded musical projects are primarily one-offs -- but it's still disheartening to see would-be creative powerhouses going the way of Temple of the Dog and USA for Africa.

However, one such ensemble, sporting decorated survivors of Frogpond, Rocket Fuel is the Key, Exit 159 and TV Fifty, continues to gig regularly and write new material after more than a year. Given the history of area acts' staying together only long enough to produce recorded evidence of their existence before throwing a CD release/swan-song party, some pessimists might see the completion of Onward Crispin Glover's debut disc, The Further and The Faster, as the beginning of the end. But Byron, the group's singer/guitarist, and Kristin, its bassist, promise Onward Crispin Glover isn't going anywhere. Well, not literally -- the group is talking to booking agents, and Byron says it's "ready to hit the road at a moment's notice." But after the group finds suitable transportation ("Our shitty Ford wouldn't make it across Missouri," Byron admits) and completes its minitours, it will hit the usual local haunts, ensuring that no one forgets the name it worked hard to earn.

When last profiled in these pages in February, Onward Crispin Glover was onwardcrispinglover, a sly gambit that protected the group from being sued by its jittery-actor namesake. But recently, Glover and his manager, during a conference call with OCG's drummer Billy, declared the group's name fair game -- provided that Glover be sent one of the band's T-shirts.

Its identity assured, OCG's members went back to the process of making songs, which, given the amount of raw material it has to work with, can be an arduous one. "It gets frustrating," Byron admits. "We write a lot of songs, but a lot of them don't ever see the light of day."

This is a potentially dangerous symptom -- members bringing in snippets of songs they feel strongly about, only to have them shot down -- and in less-stable groups, it's proved fatal. But in this case it works because, Byron says, "We're all friends before we're band people."

The songs the group pursues tend to follow a certain blueprint (guitar intro; gradual addition of other instruments; build-up to a louder chorus; seamless return to a slower-paced backdrop for the next verse) and fit into a two-to-three-minute span. One glaring exception on both counts is "Two or Three," the twenty-plus-minute behemoth that ends the disc. It opens with a chant (I'll take two or three of you down with me) that would be spooky if it weren't delivered in such a drowsy, droning manner. It then fades into silence, then resurfaces twelve minutes later, ensuring that the tune will at least startle the listeners it failed to scare with the lyric's vague threat.

Equally surprised to hear this track was the group's second guitarist, Marty, who had included the line as part of a song he'd written. Unable to take the week off from work to assist with the mixing of the album in Chicago, Marty gave the group a home-recorded tape of the song and told them they should use it.

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