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Folding Line Trio recorded at Danny Zelonky's Record Lab in Milwaukee.

Folding Line Trio wrinkles the norm in Riverwest

As a newly formed band, playing their fourth show this fall, Folding Line Trio combines collective music careers with an overwhelming passion for performance. Promising "honest, original music performed by a good group of musicians", Folding Line Trio intends to satiate the Riverwest appetite for a great time at a local spot.

Band members Sean Behling, Erik Molstad and Seth Warren-Crow began playing together earlier this spring but already developed a concrete philosophy about their musical aspirations. Behling and Molstad play with WAMI nominated 1881 and Warren-Crow played with several bands in California before teaching in the film and dance departments at UW- Milwaukee.

OnMilwaukee.com caught up with all three band members and asked a few pertinent questions before their September 27th show at Riverwest's Bremen Café.

OMC: How would you describe your music?

Behling: We're kind of like jazz meets electronic music. I guess mostly I'd call it jazz, because at its core its instrumental music that incorporates improvisation, but I doubt that it's what most people would probably expect or think of when you say the word jazz. It's influenced by a lot of break beat, drum and bass stuff that isn't your standard swing time jazz...

OMC: Are there any strong influences in your music?

Behling: A lot of drum and bass artists like Photek, and then couple that with some jazz like Miles Davis, The Bad Plus, Ornette Coleman, and Sun Ra.

In a lot of ways we're taking this electronic music that we've grown up with back into the jazz world where it becomes organic and humanized. It's given the opportunity to be "alive" versus this studio production that only lives in a recording.

OMC: What is your impression of the Milwaukee music scene?

Behling: Since moving to Riverwest in 2005 I've met a lot of great musicians and really great people. There are a ton of super talented and creative people who are busy finding or creating outlets for their work on a grass-roots level and I think seeing that is always inspiring.

OMC: Do you think there is a scene for fusion jazz?

Behling: My hope and feel is that there is a 'scene' for interesting music that is well performed. It's been my experience that when you put talented musicians together and give them an opportunity to really communicate with an audience they (the audience) are going to notice and remember you. It's all about creating goose bump or head nodding moments that strike a nerve with people. If you can do that...then mission accomplished.

OMC: You recorded an initial session at the Record Lab in Milwaukee. Do you feel there are any benefits to recording locally?

Behling: I think the most important thing when recording is really a matter of just being comfortable and finding a nice space and good people to work with. There aren't a lot of studios that have a large live room anymore; most people go into the studio and want everything isolated.

We were pretty much going for the opposite of that with by recording live without any edits or overdubbing. Similar to the old jazz recordings of the 50s and 60s; it's up to the engineer to capture this recording and otherwise just let the musicians do their thing. What you hear is the sound of us playing on one particular day in one particular room and it's got a nice raw vibe to it.

OMC: You really have a strong perspective on your musical style. Does that relate to your evolution or experience as a musician?

Behling: I've been playing with different groups since my college days in Minneapolis, probably starting around 1998. While living in Minneapolis I played and recorded with a number of groups including Test Type Trio, Lending Out Tommy, The Bell Cats, Oddjobs, and Done Been. Since living in Milwaukee I've done stuff with 1881, Boombox Casserole, The LMNtlyst, Ras Amerlock, and Danny Zelonky's Sun Ra tribute project.

Molstad: I was classically trained on piano, played in the high school jazz band in which I won the Louis Armstrong Jazz Award for improvisation.

I started getting into synthesizers and sequencers around '90 and formed Mad Watch around then with my brother Brian on guitar. I played in a couple industrial groups and later formed 1881 with my brother and Paul Duquesnoy. Recently I remixed "Only" from NIN which was named the winning remix in Milwaukee. Currently, 1881 is in-essence a studio project, and Sean threw out the idea of playing a Rhodes keyboard for Folding Line Trio.

Warren-Crow: I've been playing drums and percussion since high school in New Hampshire. For a long time I focused mainly on hand drumming and in that vein did nothing but study Indian Tabla for about three years (including some in India).

I have played in rock bands, jazz bands and in bands that have been completely free-form (drums, table-top guitar, pedal steel, lap top). I have also created sound installations that play by themselves (automated with a computer). I was a founding member and the original drummer of the band Okkervil River. Other bands I played with in California include The Fits, MIre, The R&B Free-Jazz Gospel Supreme 80.

Since being in Milwaukee I have been playing with Folding Line Trio, Stumblesome, The Midwest Phonographers Union and I'm currently teaching in the Film and Dance departments at UWM.

OMC: What direction does Folding Line Trio hope to go?

Behling: We've got a lot of different ideas that we're all pretty interested in exploring. Hopefully we're just able to keep things moving forward and build off of these experiences to become better musicians and create something that is honest and engaging.

I think we all come from the school where you're never really done learning and growing as a musician, and so it's just a matter of continuing to challenge yourself and shifting your vantage point as you go to keep things fresh.


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