Anyone who gives a listen to Commiserate, the infectious new EP from noise-pop practitioners Missing Sibling, is likely to hear echoes of bands like Guided By Voices and Camera Obscura, specialists in warm vocal harmonies riding atop loud, squirrelly guitars and a propulsive rhythm section, with some chordal dissonance thrown in for good measure. But Missing Sibling frontman and guitarist Drew Gabbert, a longtime member of the beloved Fate Lions, said the inspirations for Missing Sibling are less obvious than people might think.
When he first formed the band with bassist and backup vocalist Todd Walker in 2012, Gabbert said he did not really have “specific musical influences in mind.”
All he knew they wanted were harmony vocals and dense guitars.
“If there’s one major inspiration for the band, it’s been [the late painter] Jean-Michel Basquiat,” Gabbert said. “All the time when I’m working on songs, I’m thinking in terms of colors. When you look at a Basquiat painting, there’s something in focus right up front, and then there’s some stuff that’s smeared and layered in the background. You have to dig into both at the same time to see the whole painting.”
That’s actually a pretty good description of the simple yet multi-layered tunes on Commiserate, whose fiery sound is completed by Calhoun drummer Josh Hoover and two members of The Diabolical Machines: guitarist Stephanie Buchanan and keyboardist (and husband) Kevin Buchanan. On tunes like “Beg and Borrow” and “Time Flows Away,” Gabbert and Walker’s commingled boyish vocals grab the spotlight. At first. Then your attention is drawn toward the runaway percussion and the playful way they interact with some discordant piano or guitar line. While full of hooks, the songs on Commiserate pull you in a little deeper by making you think of the ways the musical parts do and don’t fit together. They make for a more intellectually interactive experience than your typical garage-inspired pop-rock platter.
The Buchanans joined the band last year, after their band played a gig with Gabbert and company. The rapport was obvious and instant, Gabbert said. He and Walker had been looking for a couple of other musicians to fill out the sound, to make it more layered and dynamic. The need for new players rose organically from the writing process for Commiserate.
“I started writing the record on a piano,” Gabbert said. “And then I wrote parts for a second guitar. [Hoover] and [Walker] and I decided that they were too important to leave out of the live shows we’d be doing. I passed the parts along to [the Buchanans] to learn, and they were like, ‘Great.’ It’s a rare thing when you have all five members of a band on the same creative page.”
Indeed, although the members have other musical projects on their plates, all five of them have designated Missing Sibling as their top creative priority for the foreseeable future. They’ll not only be playing multiple North Texas gigs to promote the May 26 release of Commiserate. They also will be doing a little bit of state and regional touring. To that end, the band recently bought a van. While Gabbert was checking online to see what kind of wheels other Fort Worth bands had purchased for touring, he realized that almost every group had given their vehicle a name. After some deliberation, Stephanie came up with “Vancent Price.”
It’s particularly apt, Gabbert said, especially if you look inside.
“The interior is like a bordello-red color,” Gabbert said with a chuckle. “I mean, like a rich blood-red color. It looks like you should be sipping wine and wearing a smoking jacket while you’re inside.”
7pm Sun, May 31, at Dreamy Life Records & Music, 1310 W Allen Av, FW. 817-733-5463.[/box_info]