Rock therapy

Aberdeen City prepare for a national breakthrough
By JIM SULLIVAN  |  September 12, 2006

060915_aberdeen_main
THINKING BIG: The spacious soundscapes, surging guitars, layered textures, and anthemic overtures bring to mind the rattle and hum of U2.
Brad Parker and Ryan Heller of the local foursome Aberdeen City are sitting at an enclosed booth at Fugakyu in Brookline for a lunchtime interview over sushi. They’re about to begin a national tour that will bring them back home to play downstairs at the Middle East this Tuesday. You wouldn’t know it from their demeanor, from the complete absence of rock-star airs, but they have all the makings of being the next big band out of Boston. And they’ve only just shed their day jobs.

The name, Aberdeen City, is not a nod to Kurt Cobain’s home town. Singer/bassist Parker, the main songwriter, figures it’s the most common misunderstanding they’ve had to put up with since signing to Columbia and acquiring a national profile. But one listen to The Freezing Atlantic, the 2005 CD that got them signed, reveals little in the way of Nirvana worship. Instead, the big, spacious soundscapes, surging guitars, layered textures, and anthemic overtures bring to mind a bunch of guys raised on the rattle and hum of U2.

As if to cement that connection, Columbia helped Aberdeen City retain producer Steve Lillywhite to re-record two tracks on a newly remixed and remastered pressing of The Freezing Atlantic. That would be the same Steve Lillywhite who in the early ’80s produced the first three albums by U2, as well as scads of other post-punk bands (the Psychedelic Furs, XTC, Siouxsie and the Banshees). It wasn’t a difficult hook-up: he now works doing A&R for Sony/Columbia. His main contribution to the new Freezing Atlantic had to do with changing the keys and punching up the vocals in two of the disc’s key tracks, “God Is Going To Get Sick of Me” (the first single) and “Another Seven Years.”

So where did a bunch of Boston College graduates come up with Aberdeen City? “Aberdeen” was a written on a tile in the bricks outside the hellhole of an apartment they rented near Cleveland Circle when they first started playing together, in 1999. The existence of another band named Aberdeen necessitated the addition of “City” in 2003. They began playing out in as a fivesome in 2001. The departure of bassist Ryan Kelleher in 2004 compelled Parker, a classically trained violinist, to learn bass. Not a bad thing, he says. “I’m pretty well versed in orchestral music, and I like to play not the root of the chord but to think of being the lowest voice — like a cello. The guitars have higher voices; I have the lower voice.”

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