It's all about perspective.
In architecture and art, perspective is the key to making an object spring to life before your eyes or lay flat on the page. It can come in the form of a vanishing point that pulls you into the middle of a picture. It can be in details that give a song's character flesh and blood in three minutes or less.
When it comes music, it can takes years for a band to develop their own perspective and voice. Building on Buildings' self-titled three-song EP has the warmth and rough edges of a first demo, but the perspective is already there. Graphic designer Erin Fuller and photographer Connie Ward write, sing and play as if they're long-lost pieces of the same puzzle, finally able to show the full picture.
That recording was just the beginning. The local indie rockers recently released "Wheel," the first track from an album they're recording at Justin Vernon's April Base studio in Eau Claire. If this song is any indication, Building on Buildings have a richer, deeper perspective to give listeners.
When Building on Buildings joined the Madison music community in 2013, the band's members were hardly strangers to the scene. Fuller and Ward, the primary singers, songwriters and guitarists, previously played in a band called Thieves on Holiday. But that was once upon a time.
"I had a kid, the shows slowed down, and that project kind of got iced," Fuller says. "In 2013, I moved back to Madison from Spring Green. My son was older, and I felt the itch to start playing and writing."
Before long, Ward spotted Fuller singing karaoke. She knew they should both be in a band again.
The two booked a tour as a duo in early 2013. Though they initially saw these gigs as an excuse to vacation in warmer areas of the country, the experience pushed them to create.
"We're more productive under pressure," Ward says. "We focused on new songs because we only had a couple in our pocket when we decided to hit the road."
By the time Building on Buildings' recorded their self-titled EP last spring, multi-instrumentalist Eben Christensen and drummer Shawn Pierce had joined the group. After a few months of touring, writing and playing shows, the band entered April Base studio with engineer Jaime Hansen.
Fuller says the band recorded 13 songs in November and will return to the studio in April to record a few newer tracks. Then they'll pare down the album to 10 to 13 songs for a summer release.
Although Building on Buildings are plenty busy with their day-to-day lives, Christensen says they hope to go as far as the music allows.
"There is always somewhere to explore. We are too old and wise to believe that we will be the next big thing," Christensen says. Instead, the band's goal is to remain relevant.
Fuller and Ward came up with Building on Buildings' name during a voyage to Cincinnati to see Beirut play.
"Cincinnati has some really stunning architecture, and they're looking to rejuvenate some of these buildings and neighborhoods that have seen better days," Fuller says.
She was impressed by painted particleboard illustrating the potential of one street's storefronts.
"There were dimensional faux facades of what once was or what could be, nailed up and juxtaposed against some of the buildings' weathered architectural details," she recalls. "Some were fairly elaborate, with ornate door handles and painted flowers in windowsill planters. Others were simple blocks of bright colors. The whole scene was surreal. Sad yet hopeful. Overcast yet bold."
This unique perspective offered a simple insight.
"Upon first glance, I blurted out, 'Look, they're building on buildings,'" Fuller says, "to which Connie replied, 'That sounds like a band name.'"
Like the particleboard paintings, Building on Buildings are bold and multi-dimensional, and they show great potential.