The benefits of stage fright

By WILL SPITZ  |  September 18, 2007

Wormwood adds, “A lot of my favorite bands do that really well. There’s that dichotomy between those two different sides — the things that are really easy to understand and grasp and the things that are kind of beyond you and wash over you but you still kind of feel it. Songs can hit you in so many different ways. The melody, the lyrics, can hit you, but I think we’re trying to explore more how the sounds and the sonics can hit you, the overall noise of it, without being too weird.”

There’s Tanton’s skill at crafting a memorable melody, but there’s also the band’s sound — a warm, delay-and-echo-drenched swirl that has remained consistent from their first EP, Hunting with Cats, which Tanton recorded himself, to I Was Submerged, which Jack Younger recorded at his Basement 247 studio in Allston, to their live shows. “We could not play a show without my delay pedal [an old Electro-Harmonix Memory Man],” Tanton says, laughing. “If my delay pedal broke, we’d have to cancel the show.”

The title of the new EP comes from an Ernest Hemingway quote about his relationship with Marlene Dietrich, an unconsummated romance of sorts: “We’ve never been to bed,” he told his friend, the writer A.E. Hotchner. “Amazing but true. Victims of un-synchronized passion. Those times when I was out of love, the Kraut was deep in some romantic tribulation, and on those occasions when Dietrich was on the surface and swimming about with those marvelously seeking eyes, I was submerged.” Tanton says that a lot of the lyrics on the album deal — mostly indirectly — with a relationship that was ending around the time he was writing the songs, last fall. “It was time to reflect. But I hope to not write any more love songs.” And then his contradictory impulse kicks in and he adds, quietly, “Although that’s impossible for people not to write about, I think.”

TULSA + HELMS + HATS AND GLASSES | Middle East Upstairs, 472 Mass Ave, Cambridge | September 25 | 617.864.EAST

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