Upon a lazy Wikipedia or Google search of “Communipaw”, you’d find that it’s a community within Jersey City, NJ and one of America’s earliest European settlements, however, upon closer inspection Communipaw is a folk rock band from New Brunswick, New Jersey. Their quality lo-fi sound is accompanied by a contrast of fragile vocals, gritty, twangy guitars and straightforward drumming. With one listen of their songs “The Morning Hours” (found on their Facebook page) and “I Admit” this typically pop-rock filled brain was intrigued; the band conjured up memories of beautiful western sunsets and recalls the sounds of Ester Drang (circa Infinite Keys), Aqueduct and some of the aspects of Field Music. Communipaw’s music is the strangest and most beautiful mix of stripped down folk while still being full, lush and full of hopeful from the strumming of the guitar to the harmonies created. Communipaw treads water in multiple genres, but few bands do so with such stealth and success. The quartet stitches together the longing and bittersweet using Brian Bond’s vocals and the hopeful, transparent and tenacious package contained in the guitar work and syncopated drumming.
Come to Cicero’s on May 31st to see Communipaw exhibit their brand of dynamic rock; show starts at 8p and Communipaw will be joined by The Otto Modest and Scarlet Tanager (both St. Louis local bands). This show is sure to please your ears and open you up to some great new music. I caught up with Communipaw in anticipation of Tuesday’s show and here’s what they had to say.
Describe your sound in your own words.
How did you get your start, both as a band and individually, as musicians?
We were all more or less a part of the same scene in New Brunswick, NJ. One of our mutual friends used to run a show house that unfortunately got shut down in May of 2007. So to mark the final show there Brian (singer/songwriter) and I (keith – drums) played an impromptu set together. We were joined not long after by Dave who plays bass. We’ve played with two other guitarists, including Brian’s brother PJ Bond (who left the band to explore his own solo music [def give him a listen – he’s great!]). Justin our current guitarist joined the band the spring of 2010 and has been with us for most of our touring.
How do you go about self-releasing the albums? Can you explain, in detail, the process of self-releasing and how you feel this may be a benefit to you? Are there any downfalls to this method?
Self releasing a record can be a lot of pressure, but we don’t think too much about it. We’ve self-released all three of our records and honestly i don’t really think it occurred to us to do it any other way. We record all of our own music so there’s no real monetary overhead in making records – it’s just the investment of materials once we decide to put a record out. We did put a lot of thought into packaging our latest release, Big Blue, though. We wanted it to look different from our other records and thought that it should outwardly reflect the work we put into the music. We decided to package each CD with a handwritten lyric booklet and a photo collage poster, all in a gift box with a hand-stencilled graphic and some yarn. The record has this great homemade craft-y look and we’re really excited about it.
With regard to labels, it’s great that we’re pretty much financially independent and all the money we make from cd sales can be recycled back into making more CDs, but it’s a drag fronting all that bread up front. A record label can offer you promotion, and while we love being involved along every step along the creative trail, I guess it would be nice sometimes to be able to focus on fewer elements.
What do you do in preparations for touring? Do you set up the tours yourself?
We’re lucky enough to have a booking agent in our friend Jeff Meyers with Beartrap booking, so most of what’s left for us is picking the books we’ll be reading. Musically we’re always changing things, playing songs in new ways, and most of those changes come in the middle of the tour as result of us playing night after night.
What kind of music do you guys listen to while on the road/What’s on your iPod?
We’re been going through kind of an obsessive Dylan phase lately – mostly Blood on the Tracks. Neil Young, Wilco, George Harrison, Roy Orbison, S.M.O.G. + Bill Calahan, a lot of jazz – all fixtures for us. Lately we’ve been digging Tame Impala, Cass McCombs, Roy Harper, 50s and 60s gospel music and are always previewing records on that NPR Music app.
After touring as much as you do and to all the different places you’ve been – do you collect a lot of albums from bands you’re playing with, like local type bands? Are there any smaller or local bands anywhere that you’d like to make people aware or or recommend?
We’re always trading records with bands we share bills with. it’s like a form of communication and idea sharing. We’ve been really fortunate to play with a lot of really great bands – right now we’re on the road with this sunny boy/girl sixties-pop-ish band called Destry – we’ve been opening for them and playing as their backing band for the last two weeks, so you should definitely try to peep their record Waiting On an Island!
About the Author – Jennifer Metzler has been going to rock and roll shows all over St. Louis from an early age. She recalls some of her first ever shows as rollicking good, jam-packed, sweaty and perfectly dim-lit shows while standing on the Cicero’s venue floor. When not rocking out at shows, writing about music or listening to the newest breakout band, she’s writing about hockey, watching hockey, or screaming and throwing a remote across the living room in regards to, you guessed it, hockey. She also loves to talk to her cats, walk around the duck pond judging duck hair-do’s and collect vinyl records. If you see her at a show, Cicero’s or anywhere around St. Louis, feel free to say hello!