It's been a quiet year for fans of Madison hip-hop/rock innovators Know Boundaries, as the band has only played a couple shows in town since releasing a live disc last fall. They're returning to the High Noon Saloon stage this Saturday, but it's a farewell bow -- the group is disbanding after a bit less than a decade together.
They'll leave behind a parting gift for their fans in the form of a new studio album released at the show, The Ghost Spell According to Know Boundaries. The disc makes a potent final statement with a smooth flowing mix of thought-provoking songs which should be welcomed by the group's longtime listeners and accessible to new ones as well.
Know Boundaries' current lineup includes Jermel Randolph (a.k.a. Mr. Freeze, a.k.a. Deken Frost), emcee; Aaron Blacker, vocals and guitar; J. Granberg, bass; Dave Osmalov (a.k.a. Dr. Oz), lead guitar; Aaron Konkol (a.k.a. a2the), keys, backing vocals and MPC; and JAH Boogie, drums and sampler
Konkol and Osmalov answered a few questions via email about the album's long gestation and moving on to new projects.
The Daily Page: How did Know Boundaries originally get together?
Osmalov: The band originally started in 2000, when the remnants (J and myself) of a band I had started called Furious Jones got together with then drummer Gary Jorewicz, rapper Jermel Randolph, singer/guitarist Aaron Blacker, and then saxophonist Brennan Connors. We all wanted to challenge where pop music was going, while still retaining pop attainability.
We noticed that all of the rock/hip-hop hybrid bands did little to mix the actual music. It was like a heavy metal guitar riff over a hip-hop beat, or just straight rock and roll with rap lyrics. We wanted to blend the music together. The guitars, while still a driving force in the music, took a back seat to groove and melody, much like in hip-hop. Rhythm became a focal point, unlike most rock music, and the guitars were still a focal point, unlike in hip-hop.
We really tried to hybridize the styles completely. Which, unfortunately, seems to be falling out of favor in the modern musical climate.
How long has the band been working on the new album?,br> Konkol: Three years. Yeah, three years! It was originally tracked back in October of 2006, with mixing and overdubbing for the next two years until it finally came together. Unfortunately at that point we didn't have the money to pay for it, and right around the same time that we finished it we decided to break up. Hence the extra year tagged on there at the end.
After we booked the last show almost six months ago (Cathy at the High Noon really likes to book way in advance!), we convinced our engineer -- Jim Newhouser at Studio Earth Remote, who also did the recent dumate album -- the only way to make the money to pay for the album was to throw a little more money at it so we could release it. Needless to say, we're keeping our fingers crossed on that one!
What led to the decision to make the CD release show a farewell show?
Osmalov: We have been a band for 10 years, and as I'd previously mentioned, modern musical climates are changing -- in my personal view becoming more stratified instead of more hybridized. Exactly the antithesis of the concept of the band at its conception. It's just time for us all to move on creatively. The split is on the best of possible terms, by the way. All of these guys are my brothers. (Not literally.)
For fans who can't make the show, will the CD be available elsewhere? Konkol: On September 15 it will be available for digital download at our Band Camp and FizzKicks pages, and at our favorite option, in all the local independent record stores around Madison -- B-Side, Strictly Discs, Exclusive Company, and Madcity Music Exchange. Let us know if there are some we're missing! Support your local record stores!
Soon it will be available on iTunes, Rhapsody, emusic, Amazon and pretty much all of the other digital download sites/services, but they don't tell the independent bands when it will actually be available. We basically just need to wait until they get around to adding it to their catalog.
What projects will the members be working on going forward?
Konkol: Jermel Randolph and Mic Douglas have started a new hip-hop/rap project called Star Persons, with beats by Man Mantis and J. Granberg. The live band will also include myself on keys and Alex Barret on electronic drums.
Dave Osmalov is now playing with several groups, including The Bilderberg Group (sludge metal), Suicide TXT (surf grind), and The Real ID Act (indie). Bilderberg is now based in Portland, Oregon, and will be doing West Coast dates and tours, with a few dates around December in the Madison area.
Aaron Blacker has been writing and recording material as a solo artist; his band will include Dave and J.
Myself and JAH Boogie are still the band leaders for Natty Nation, and Boogie is also a member of dumate.
Listen to the new Know Boundaries song "Where the Rednecks Grow" in the related downloads at top right, and then catch more tunes live when the band takes its farewell bows. Showtime at the High Noon is at 10 p.m. on Saturday, September 12, with dumate warming up the stage.