Signed! Acoustic Syndicate, the WNC-based “acoustic Americana” group, recently announced their addition to the Sugar Hill label. The group will record a new album for the label this fall, with a release planned for spring of 2003. The group’s most recent recording, the double-album Live from the Neighborhood, was released earlier this month. For more information visit the group’s web site at www.acousticsyndicate.com.
“No it isn’t.”
“It’s like Smashing Pumpkins on acid.”
“Well, not the band. It really is like smashing pumpkins on acid.”
Needless to say, talking with the local Asheville band The Ether Bunnies is more of an experience than a conversation. The three members, Dan Wilcox, Bill Coonan, and James Owen, sit comfortably around a coffee table, crack jokes and make me work hard to get a straight answer out of them. This is by no means a chore, as they have me in stitches the entire time.
The trio is about to unleash their first full-length album, titled Nectar, at a Sept. 27 CD-release party at Vincent’s Ear in downtown Asheville. At the helm of the recording effort was Geoff Valleau who engineered and co-produced the album. The group uses electronics as well as organic instruments in their live performances. Owen plays percussion, xylophone, synth, clarinet and does live sampling. Coonan uses a computer, “guitar” synthesizer and melodica, while Wilcox is in charge of the banjo, guitar and Casio keyboard. It’s a full stage with a full sound and three very busy men. Since their music is hard to categorize — as the aforementioned instruments might suggest — I asked them about the process they use to create and structure their songs.
Andrew Hauet for Mountain Xpress: So who’s in charge?
(Laughter all around)
James Owen: (Laughing) He’s not here right now.
AH: Are the songs one person’s idea?
JO: The song is usually one person’s idea.
Bill Coonan: Yes but its always a different person who has the idea.
AH: So, do you take the idea and improvise with it?
Dan Wilcox: At first it’s improvisation until we give it a structure.
JO: But it’s never really the same process twice.
AH: What is it you’re trying to accomplish with this album?
BC: Making music that I want to hear that I’d be happy to put out…yeah that’s pretty much it. (The other two nod in agreement)
AH: How is this new album different from the previously released [Ether Bunnies] EP?
DW: Well, the songs on the first album are the first songs we ever wrote. We’ve definitely… grown. It’s more mature.
BC: There’s a broader range of instrumentation and a lot more electronic stuff going on. We make a much fuller sound using loops and synthesis than we were on the first album where it’s eighty, ninety percent organic sounds.
AH: Are you happy with it?
(Nods all around)
AH: Why did you name the album ‘Nectar’?
JO: Because it’s sweet.
BC: Because it’s sweet? (Laughing) Make sure you put that James said that. I was having imagery of bees and flowers and, I don’t know, it seemed logical to me.