The celestial sounds of the Receiving End of Sirens
VIDEO: The Receiving End of Sirens, "Smoke and Mirrors"
In 1619, Johannes Kepler — the famous astronomer dude — published his Harmonices Mundi, or “Harmony of the Worlds.” In it, among other postulations (including what’s come to be known as the “Third Law of Planetary Motion”), he suggested that variances in the Earth’s angular speed as it revolves around the Sun correspond to musical notes, specifically to “Mi” and “Fa” (as in “Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do”). Kepler went on to propose that the “Mi” stood for “misery” and the “Fa” for “famine.” He even backed it all up with mathematics, giving scientific weight to the notion that there’s something inherently musical about the universe. It’s just the sort of thing great prog-rock symphonies are made of. Only, prog-rock isn’t the first thing that comes to mind with the Receiving End of Sirens. Chances are, you’ll find their new The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi (Triple Crown) filed somewhere in the alternative section of the universe when it hits stores this Tuesday — perhaps orbiting near the planet Emo.
I found the band on the Northeastern University campus in early June, on a brief visit home between photos in New York and a video shoot in Canada. (They’re back in town for an acoustic set to celebrate the new album’s release this Tuesday at Newbury Comics in Leominster.) Northeastern is where the story of the Receiving End of Sirens (TREOS, in the familiar form) began five years ago, when two high-school friends from Connecticut — singer/bassist Brendan Brown and singer/guitarist Alex Bars — bumped into a drummer from Massachusetts named Andrew Cook. As Brown recalls, “Alex and I — the two singers — we’ve been in bands together since we were like 14 years old. We grew up together in Connecticut. We moved up to Boston when we were 18 to go to Northeastern. We roomed together and we were looking to start a band. We met Andrew in the cafeteria. He wasn’t even in school yet.”
The rest of TREOS came together when Brown and Bars asked another high-school friend, Nate Patterson, to handle lead guitar, and Casey Crescenzo, another singing guitarist, was brought into the fold. That was TREOS mach 1, a band who surprised a lot of people right out of the gate, in 2005, when the then-not-so-well-known pop-punk producer Matt Squire took them under his wing and helped them realize a sprawling, ambitious debut album, Between the Heart and the Synapse (Triple Crown). That disc arrived amid a growing wave of post-hardcore bands who were too technically gifted to be considered purely punk, too muscular to fit the typical indie profile, and too musically ambitious to stay put in the underground for too long — bands like Thrice, Coheed & Cambria, and maybe even Panic! At the Disco (whom Squire would also produce). There was no other easy way to describe TREOS’s penchant for cerebral yet soul-baringly personal songs, so that devilish emo tag began to follow them around like a lost puppy.
“I would say that we would not describe ourselves as emo,” says Brown.
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