Dan Type makes a musical switch with Repetition Lever
Once a local musician has established him or herself as being a standard on the scene, it can be difficult to grow beyond the foundation that has already been laid. Fans can come along for the ride but ultimately, the new projects the artists undertake are seen as an extension of the old rather than the beginning of something new.
In the mind of the most dedicated followers comparisons will be drawn to former bands, similar to how old At The Drive In fans critique every project that comes from those who established new bands after ATDI broke up.
Though you'll probably be hard pressed to find a person that enjoys Sparta's discography more than they enjoy The Mars Volta, both bands set themselves up to have individual identities and eventually grew far enough away from At The Drive In that they could be their own bands, in the fans' minds.
Local musician Dan Type may be best known for his band Take My Face and his solo works, but it's his new band Repetition Lever that has him very excited about his musical future.
Repetition Lever is a band that floats in and out of indie rock and art rock, creating music that sounds large in scope at times yet revealing at other times.
Type's voice soars along with the tracks, giving the music the necessary vocal power needed to compliment the instrumentation.
I discussed Repetition Lever with Type and how the writing process played out for their debut project.
OnMilwaukee.com: I know that your voice has been compared to Thom Yorke of Radiohead, but at times I hear Geddy Lee or Paul Banks of Interpol. Are any of those bands or singers influential on your style? Probably more important than that, who are your influences?
Dan Type: There are many influences (conscious or subconscious), sometimes hard to remember or credit all of them. I would say my early influences were Pink Floyd, U2, The Police, King Crimson, The Violent Femmes, The Doors, Led Zeppelin, The Talking Heads and REM. Then they shifted into The Pixies, Smashing Pumpkins, Afghan Whigs, Mudhoney, Radiohead, Jawbox, Superchunk, Nirvana, Fishbone, Love Battery, Pond, Shiner, along with Thelonious Monk, John Coltrane, Miles Davis and a lot of the Bebop era. More recently a few are Built to Spill, Autolux, Blonde Redhead, The Life and Times, The Strokes and also anything interesting that catches my ear.
I have a tendency to gravitate just out of the mainstream, although never look to duplicate anyone or any "sound." There is so much great music out there it almost seems like happenstance or destiny that you actually find something you really dig.
OMC: The music on the disc is slightly experimental in scope and often seems to fly high. Did you set out to make big sounding music during the writing process?
DT: As far as writing "big"-sounding music, I usually try to tap into the dynamic and emotional aspects (for sure) on any tune. I would say I strive more for interesting than big, but big is great too. There are a multitude of choices and directions when you are recording that one can take. I feel the journey is the reward (most of the time) and there may not be a big "pay off" in the end. Just be as creative as you can, enjoy yourself and let everything else fall where it may.
OMC: What was the writing process for the album like?
DT: The writing process so far has been me cultivating the main form, lyrics and an idea of a beat or groove. I would then take it to each musician individually, give them some time with it and let them interject their creative "say" without trying to suppress any ideas. If anyone asked for direction I would help nurture their part or help grind out something new.
Most of the parts were recorded in many different places and were pieced together over time. Each band member has their own studio. We also recorded at Mike Hoffmann's studio (who by the way is an incredible producer, engineer and creative mind), the Miramar Theatre and a few remote sites. We slowly put together mixes and with everyone's input, came to our current place.
OMC: What's the story behind the name of the band?
DT: I make a living as a piano tuner / technician. The "repetition lever" is a part of a piano action. It is an escapement mechanism that allows for the hammer to hit the string over and over without the hammer blocking against the string. That being said, the phrase could also have multiple meanings and ultimately that is why we gravitated toward it.
OMC: You have a strong legacy in the Milwaukee music scene. How does this new project and band fit into your legacy? Is it something that fans who've been with you for a while will naturally gravitate toward or is it more for a newer audience base?
DT: All the musicians in this band have a solid legacy in Milwaukee already, which I hope grows over the coming years. This town has a pretty tight and talented music community. We all have been fortunate to work with (or know) quite a few successful local talents. As far as this band's legacy, we shall see. I feel this band has more potential than any I have worked with. Hopefully we can capitalize on it.
It seems most of our previous fans have gravitated towards this new direction. The previous direction was far more eclectic, so in many ways the new stuff is more accessible. We welcome expanding our audience by all means though too.
I am fortunate enough to own a copy of the new Repetition Lever CD. I can't stop listening to it. I actually feel that it is the culmination of a lot of Mr. Type's earlier works, with added depth and nuance that that you rarely hear on the local music scene. Sophistication is the word that best describes it. One thing that is not mentioned in the interview is this album's accessibility. The songs have great hooks and devices that keep you coming back, and melodies that stick with you throughout the day. I believe that this recording represents Mr. Type's best work.
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