Local band Elusive Parallelograms reshapes itself into Tapebenders
If you weren't a fan of Elusive Parallelograms as a band name, don't worry; you weren't alone.
"It was never my favorite name to begin with," admitted Andrew Foys, the band's guitarist and vocalist. "It was a good name in the sense that it stuck out. Either you loved it or you hated it. Over the years, I found out that there was really no in between on that."
There is good news for Foys and Milwaukee music fans who landed squarely on the "hated it" side of the opinion: the name has run its course. The multi-genre spanning psychedelic rock band recently underwent a "reboot," kicking the old Elusive Parallelograms moniker to the curb and reintroducing themselves as Tapebenders – complete with a new album and a showcase at the upcoming Yellow Phone Conference at 12:30 a.m. at Fire on Water. Already, the name is an improvement for Foys for the most basic, elementary of reasons.
"I kind of got incredibly sick of the continuous misspelling of the name," Foys said. "It was that and the continual difficulty people had with tracking us down. You'd tell people that your band was Elusive Parallelograms, and you'd get this blank, glazed look, and they'd have to write it down and couldn't find it on Google or Facebook. I was just sick of functioning under that name, so it was time to move in a new direction."
Befuddling geometry terms aside, the key reason for the switch was the group had been through several different iterations and combinations of members. Though the songwriting core has stayed mostly intact, current members have been reshuffled into different roles and positions – Foys was originally the band's bassist – while some members left due to the added pressures and commitments necessary to hopefully break out.
"Being in a band is difficult, especially if your aspirations are to do more than just play your weekend gig at your local pub and play 'Mustang Sally' covers for the 10 people there," Foys said. "When you start getting to the level where more commitment is required, some people just can't or don't want to go that route, which is understandable. It's hard life, and there's not a whole lot of financial benefits at this point. A lot of your other life kind of has to be put on hold because there's only so many opportunities to do this."
After several changes, though, the band found a combination of musicians and personalities that seemed to finally click into place. Now, it was just a matter of getting this newly solidified group out into Milwaukee, something the old name wouldn't exactly help.
"We kind of needed a reboot," Foys said. "We all felt like we wanted to get not necessarily a fresh start – we're not trying to distance ourselves from the past fully. We still acknowledge what we did under the EP moniker. It just was time."
The next phase of Tapebenders' reintroduction to the Milwaukee music scene? A new album. Well, new-esque. Their upcoming record, titled "Chasing Ghosts" and set to come out Tuesday, Aug. 26, is more of an anthology, compiling songs from its Elusive Parallelograms era, namely a period where the group prolifically cranked out three EPs in under a year – "a grind for sure," Foys admitted, "but it beats working for a living."
The original plan was to simply re-release all of the songs from the three Elusive Parallelograms EPs – the EP EPs, if you will – on one record, but that soon evolved into picking the best songs from that past time. Tapebenders then hopped back into the studio to re-record the chosen tracks, adding in new parts, fixing old mistakes and creating an overall unified band sound for the album.
"Especially on some of the early stuff from a couple years back, I was still getting my footing in the studio, and the recording quality has just better and better and better," Foys said. "I didn't want to have stuff that sounded like … not that I would be totally against it, but I thought it would be better to have a consistent drum sound, for one, not jumping around from four completely different drummers.
"I figured if we're going to do this, we're going to do it from scratch," Foys continued. "We have to listen to this for the rest of our lives, so I'd prefer to have it be something that we actually enjoy and are proud of. Not that we aren't proud of our previous stuff, but, you know, something that we actually really like, I guess."
Foys actually admitted that the process behind the album was "really annoying" and "not the easiest thing in the world," mainly because he's not a huge fan of looking back and living in the past. The album title even hints at that. According to Foys, the original plan was to call it "Elusive Parallelograms," but because of the likely confusion, the band went with "Chasing Ghosts."
"That's how I felt tracking the record," Foys said. "Like I was chasing recorded ghosts or digital ghosts."
Foys, however, quickly became a fan of the final product – a nice transition piece between the band's past works and future ambitions.
It didn't take long, either, for Tapebenders to move onto making new stuff. For one, the band helped rebrand itself by releasing a music video last month for the psych-punk hit "Semantics." The video, written by keyboardist Adam Asher, involves the group setting up for a show at the Cactus Club when suddenly all of the members go into a rage and kill one another – all in front of a blank-faced disinterested crowd.
The clip is a very short and very entertaining two-minute burst of lo-fi horror kitsch, one that got some extra attention thanks to the man behind the camera: local cult movie icon Mark Borchardt, "a total professional and one of the most genuinely nice, cool people I've ever met in my life" according to Foys.
After that, Tapebenders already has plans for a second album of all new material as well. With tracking upcoming in the next few months, the band is hoping to get it out into the world by the end of the year, topping off an eventful year of new roads and new identities for Foys and company.
"We always try to push ourselves in as many different directions as we can and just kind of see where we end up. I would hope that (the next album) is another step in the evolutionary process."
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