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 alluring.smart,
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."
Please visit: www.solea.org
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