Garrett Klahn - vocals / guitar
Sergie Loobkoff - guitar
Joe Orlando - bass
Scott McPherson - drums


Picture taken by Piper Ferguson


TThe third time is the charm, the saying goes, and Solea definitely put pay to that old saw. With their new band, singer Garrett Klahn - late of emo pioneers Texas Is The Reason and NYC garage pop-rockers the New Rising Sons - and ex-Samiam / knapsack guitarist Sergie Loobkoff have crafted what is perhaps their best and brightest music to date. Since forming in 2002, Solea have already released a number of EPs and 7"s around the world and played countless live dates, resulting in a substantial international fan base as well as ecstatic critical praise from Alternative Press, who hailed their "huge sounding post-emo," and The Big Takeover, which declared the band to be "incisive and, organic guitar rock that's not predisposed to any particular niche."

Now Solea's eponymous debut album takes their indescribable sound to an altogether new plane. Songs such as "Night & Day" and "Apotheke" are richly textured yet remarkably direct, fuelled by densely layered arrangements and a straightforward rock sensibility. Immediate and irresistible, "SOLEA" is something truly rare in modern rock - music that simply cannot be pigeonholed. "We don't really sound like anything that's going on right now," Loobkoff says. "We didn't start this band with any particular stylistic vision in terms of what we wanted to do. We're not trying to cultivate any particular sound other than making good music." "Our schtick is that we have no schtick," laughs Klahn. "We don't wear tight jeans or spandex, we don't have some grand plan to rehash old music into what is currently on the radio. This record is just 11 catchy, accessible songs, which was exactly what we were trying to do."

The Solea saga begins in Berlin sometime in the mid-1990s during the hazy, crazy days of the Alternative Revolution. Mutual acquaintances brought the two bands together and Texas Is The Reason was invited to join the Samiam trek of Europe. The bands traveled together on a ramshackle tour bus, bonding as the five-week itinerary hit every major city in Europe, as well as a few not-so-major ones. Klahn and Loobkoff became fast friends, clicking over a variety of shared interests. "Sergie and I had a lot of common ground, things that neither of our band members were into," Klahn says. "We spent a lot of time hanging out in the back of the bus, jamming and listening to things like The Pixies or Swervedriver." "We were very similar," Loobkoff says, "both musically and ideologically. Both of us were playing in bands that are what's vaguely put in the genre of 'punk rock,' but we were really more interested in singer/songwriters like John Lennon."

Upon returning the States, Texas Is Reason got caught up in a major label signing frenzy and, like so many bands of the period, promptly imploded. On one coast, Klahn formed the poptastic New Rising Sons. To the west, Loobkoff kept Samiam going while also doing double-duty in Nor-Cal indie-rockers knapsack. Neither musician was fully satisfied and eventually both knapsack and New Rising Sons joined the ranks of the deceased. The two friends maintained contact and in early 2001, Klahn, now back in his native Buffalo, New York, approached Loobkoff via e-mail about possibly teaming up on some kind of musical venture. Fragments of songs - melodies, lyrical hooks - were soon flowing across the information superhighway, as Loobkoff and Klahn began writing together via MP3 and CDR. "Our band has benefited greatly from simple, modern technology," Loobkoff grins, "It was definitely a different working situation than either of us were used to," Klahn says. "With Texas and New Rising Sons, I would call up the boys and say, 'Hey meet me at the studio in an hour,' but with Solea, we didn't have that luxury and had to be more creative about the process of writing." Eventually Klahn made it out west, and Solea headed to sunny Stockton, CA, where the band's then-drummer had previously worked with Gary Young, the infamously loony drummer in the first incarnation of Pavement. After leaving Pavement, Young continued to operate his Louder Than You Think Studio, located out among the walnut orchards just east of town. "It was really perfect," Klahn says. "Gary was a total lunatic, but the biggest sweetheart in the world. We'd work till 4:30 or 5 in the morning, until Gary said, 'It's late, I gotta go to bed.' He'd leave, then come back 10 minutes later with fruitcake and chocolate ice cream for all of us. He was a trip."

The Stockton sessions were remarkably fruitful, an ideal way of getting things underway. While many bands form to fulfill a predetermined sound and vision, Solea opted to avoid any conceived notions. Rather, they chose to simply get together and see what happened. Three 7-inchs and two EPs were culled from the Stockton sessions which the band sold on a series of tours alongside such bands as Thursday, Burning Brides, the Movielife, Rival School and Alkaline Trio. In June, they made their first trans-Atlantic jaunt, for a series of gigs in Germany and Holland. "Because of our past histories, we were able to get tours pretty quickly," Loobkoff says. "We've benefited greatly from our past, while at the same time it has also hurt us in many ways. Either way we've made a point of not riding on our old coattails."

Solea once again hit the road that spring on a nation wide tour alongside Idlewild and French Kicks. After winding up the dates, good news came from Japan's Bad News Records - the acclaimed "EVEN STRANGER" EP released in 2003, was turning into a surprise popular success. In June, Solea traveled east to the Land of the Rising Sun where they received a rapturous response from fans in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. "For some reason, they're maniacal about us in Japan," Klahn enthuses. "We played only a handful of shows, but the people were just so receptive." "It's hard when you're in a new band," Loobkoff says, "playing night after night trying to introduce yourselves to people. Those Japanese tours were great because the people were just so super-enthusiastic."

Upon returning from the East, Solea - which now included Buffalo-based bassist Joe Orlando, who joined up just prior to the Japanese tour - begin work on a proper debut album. Enter producer and former Hippos singer/guitarist Ariel Rechtshaid. "When I first met with Ariel, I told him that we were more interested in making something that sounded like say, My Bloody Valentine, than what you would expect from us based on our pasts," Loobkoff says. "He got really excited about that, so I knew we'd work well together." October saw Solea and Rechtshaid hard at work in a number of L.A. studios, working long hours to ensure the best possible realization of their music. Taking inspiration from such modern artists as Doves and Oasis as well as classic indie guitar rockers like Dinosaur Jr. and Seam, Solea have crafted a potent collection of intensely melodic power rock. "We wanted to be very concise," Loobkoff says, "with out meandering at all. That said, we wanted to get in every little hook we possibly could, so there are layers and layers of sound, which I love."

Among the highlights of "SOLEA" is "The Shuffle" - which was the first song ever written by the Klahn/Loobkoff team. Nascent takes of a number of tracks - including "Frankie Machine" and "Mercy Was Here" - appeared on the earlier Solea demos, but Klahn notes that the new versions are "more fully realized. The difference in the recording and in the delivery is amazing. They have a whole different life. The songs just sound more alive, they sound more along the lines of how we play them live." While Garrett Ray played drums throughout the "SOLEA" sessions, after completing the album, ex-Sense Field/Elliott Smith drummer Scott McPherson was enlisted as a member of the band. With their debut album ready to go, Solea now poised for their most brilliant year yet. Already set for a spring 2004 return to Japan - where Bad News Records will release "SOLEA" - the band are determined to continue operating under the same spirit of spontaneity that has driven them from the outset. "Everything about this band has been really organic and natural," Loobkoff says. "We've tried to leave things up to fate without ever worrying too much about the future." "We made our record and it sounds really great," Klahn says, "so now we're going to take it from here and see what happens."

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