Hard-wired fuzz

The Inclined are finding a balance
By CHRIS CONTI  |  June 24, 2009

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The Inclined's December '08 debut, The First Day of Many (available at 75orLessRecords.com), continues to captivate my attention with big hooks, spacey synths, and manipulated guitar riffs and squalls, at times encapsulated in fuzz and exploding with unabashedly catchy gems. After years playing with local indie-rock outfit Ellison, Jeremy Withers (bass) and Bill Paukert (vocals, synth, and technology maven) comprise the Inclined, along with a shitload of equipment to flesh out a sound determined by the duo's keen musical interests.

"We have pretty divergent musical backgrounds, so a lot of our sound comes from the meeting of those differences," Withers told me last week. "Bill brings in the classics like Depeche Mode and New Order, while I come at things from the shoegaze and indie-rock side of things. We try to make music that satisfies both of us."

The 75orLess press release states: "Having now embraced the studio as an instrument and compositional tool, they have distilled their love of bass fuzz and synchronized arpeggiation into their first full album."

Bill Paukert admits an initially bumpy transition.

"At one point we had to admit that the direction we were heading didn't feel right," Paukert said. "It was an awkward conversation, but we both agreed and ditched at least an album's worth of material.

"Looking back, we clearly did the right thing, and I wouldn't hesitate to ditch another album's worth of material in the future if it was done for the greater good."

Withers has been working behind the scenes at 75orLess forever, and Six Star General bassist and label head Mark MacDougall (who referred to Withers as "truly one of the most reliable and helpful people I have ever met") will be one of the curious in attendance on Saturday. He dropped a line via email: "The Inclined is really strange stuff, I'm excited to see them this weekend. I haven't seen just the two of them play out live yet, so it should be interesting."

The duo have played the new material only once, and a blog entry a few weeks later at theinclined.com conceded perhaps a self-conscious take on their stage presence: "One of the tough things about being in a two-person band is figuring out how to make the live performance interesting. While we'd love to roll around on top of the audience in a giant hamster ball like Wayne Coyne, we're pretty much tethered by our instruments."

I asked if they would be wheeling in enough technology to fill the room, keeping in mind stoner/post-punk heavyweights Coma Coma and Six Star General will follow (and I assure you — SSG's closing cover of "Jesus Shooting Heroin" will destroy the Blackstone). "There's always a fine line to straddle when you are an electronic band doing live shows," Paukert said. "There will be backing tracks, but Jeremy will be playing bass through plenty of effect pedals, and if I'm not singing, I'm either playing a synth, drum pads or mangling sounds with Kaoss pads."

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