Since we last checked in with Milwaukee band Elusive Parallelograms in May 2011, the band has undergone some personnel changes and has released three EPs. The latest, "Fragments," was officially launched at a gig last week at Linneman's Riverwest Inn.
With so many changes afoot – the band currently comprises singer and guitarist Andrew Foys, guitiarist and vocalist David Schessow, guitarist Stefan Dostanic, keyboardist/vocalist Cory Husher, bassist Jeff Krause and drummer Johnathan Laws – and on the occasion of the new record, we talked with Foys about "Fragments," which is a diverse guitar-driven affair that nods – knowingly or not – at The Smiths, Oasis and a sound that is considerably grittier than either of those bands.
OnMilwaukee.com: Before we talk about the new EP, tell me a bit about how the previous records were received. Did they help raise your profile in and outside of Milwaukee?
Andrew Foys: This is our fourth release since April 2011 and third EP in the last 11 months. I would say the last two EPs ("Habits" and "Spaces") were both well received and that pleased us very much, as we worked extremely hard on them. As far as raising our profile, I am not sure, although it never hurts when to constantly be putting stuff out there.
OMC: The new one is pretty diverse. Is that a reflection of different songwriters in the band?
AF: There has been a lot of shifting of the lineup over the last few months, some going some coming, and the new material definitely reflects that. Overall, we make music as a group and the diversity of the material is a byproduct of the myriad differences and influences of the individuals who construct the collective.
OMC: I like the juxtaposition of the almost chaotic instrumental opener with the rest of the record. Was that a means of grabbing attention right away?
AF: Thanks. "Lucidity" was originally just an organ piece that we just kept messing with until it became what it is now. We felt it was a good opener because, as you said, it grabs attention and in some ways puts into sound what the last year – and especially this EP – has felt like mentally. It does a good job of saying "'Fragments' is starting."
OMC: Is the title, "Lucidity," a little ironic?
AF: Not particularly, but some might see it that way.
OMC: It's interesting how the next song, "Helium," then, is almost Smiths-like.
AF: "Helium" is a really cool song and it was super fun to work on. Interesting you say The Smiths as we didn't really have any template, but we find the way others hear our stuff most fascinating. As with most of our stuff it just takes on a life of its own after we all start working on it. It was originally just a vocal round and an acoustic guitar.
OMC: You made the debut partially in Chicago and partially in Milwaukee. Is that how this one was made, too?
AF: We have done all the engineering for the three EPs and most of modern splendor out of our own studio and find we can work a lot better and a lot more with this setup. It certainly costs less. For this EP we mixed at Bobby Peru Recording with Shane Olivo and Justin Perkins from Mystery Room did the mastering; both are highly recommended.
OMC: Did you feel like this one was a little easier because you've done a few already? Were the earlier ones learning experiences?
AF: None of them are ever easy and this was no exception. If anything, the more you learn the more you want to experiment and the more complex it all gets. I will say our workflow has gotten substantially smoother and more efficient over the years and, despite the work, we love doing it.
Elusive Parallelograms' next Milwaukee gig is Saturday, Feb. 2 at The Up and Under Pub.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.