“I definitely had this experience—we all did—of stepping through the looking glass,” guitarist/composer Shane Perlowin recalls. He’s talking about avant-garde jazz/thrash group Ahleuchatistas’ November 2008 tour through Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, France and Spain.
What’s different about playing Europe? “Music tends to permeate the culture differently overseas,” he explains. “Things don’t become passé as quickly.” Though considered quirky in the states (Wikipedia calls the band “math rock”), Ahleuchatistas found they could pack clubs in Spain. They traveled by train, stayed in nice hotels and, most importantly, “It was nice to feel appreciated.”
In 2006, the band was invited to the International Jazz Festival in Saalfelden, Austria, (which, Perlowin notes, was “crazy, because we’re basically a punk band from Asheville”). The following year, the group played Germany’s Leipzig Jazz Festival and were signed by Tzadik Records (a New York City-based label that represents many experimental overseas acts). Bolstered by European contacts and the support of a label, Perlowin and his bandmates (bassist Derek Poteat and drummer Ryan Oslance) scheduled their 2008 European jaunt.
“I love the idea of representing Asheville [abroad] because our music is so wacky,” says Perlowin. And though the guitarist isn’t certain whether the group is a fitting representative of Asheville’s eclectic music scene, he does have kind words for his hometown. “I love playing in Asheville, and I like being a part of this community here. People think they need to go somewhere else to check [the arts scene], but they don’t. It’s right down the street.”
Maybe so, but at the moment, Ahleuchatistas are finding a good chunk of their audience across the Atlantic. The band does plan a short U.S. tour this summer, but if Europe continues to offer opportunities, those countries will claim the lion’s share of this local band’s schedule. And commerce aside, last year’s overseas dates and the resulting long-distance friendships have given Perlowin “a fresh hope for humanity—that’s how positive it all was.”
Info: Aleuchatistas (www.ahleuchatistas.com; firstname.lastname@example.org).