Sometimes breaking up is a good thing. For local rock band The Selfish Gene, a breakup in 2008 led to a smaller group with a revised sound and a renewed sense of purpose. With the help of some dedicated fans, the trio won the Isthmus Band to Band Combat competition in 2009, less than a year after re-forming.
And after winning the crown, it didn't take the band long to produce some new tunes displaying the evolution of their sound and vision. A six-song EP, What It Sees, Where It Sleeps, was released this June, and according to guitarist Matt Allen, there's a full-length LP in the hopper as well.
What that "it" in the title refers to is another matter.
What It Sees, Where It Sleeps is the stuff of dreams. Its the imagination running wild with fantasy, all the while filled with specific meaning or life lessons for the individual," Allen explains. "The EP as a whole is a set of images or dreams: what we see, when we sleep."
The band establishes its new, melodic identity from the get-go with a track called "Follow Me Gone," which evokes a sense of longing with a quietly strummed guitar and a minor-key melody. It's the kind of song that evokes quiet moments in front of a campfire or a rainy window, with the misty presence of of Built to Spill and Simon & Garfunkel floating in the corners of the scene.
The song was actually inspired, to some extent, by Fever Marlene's latest release, White China, Allen says.
"I remember thinking how great that album sounded and how simple the songs were. They essentially went to New York for a week and recorded in the Chelsea Hotel. You can hear the cars driving by on the street, bikes ringing bells on the sidewalk, people shuffling from one place to another. The feel of that record was so 'autumn in NYC' and I was inspired to make a song that felt like a specific place in time."
Lyrically, though, the song's about being without bandmates -- and the heavy emotions that accompany moving on.
"It's not a song about a band breaking up, though," Allen assures. "That was just the catalyst for the metaphor. It's designed so the listener can interpret what they want out of it, in terms of whatever they're healing from, moving to or away from, or starting over. 'Follow Me Gone' is the first song on the EP, and it acts as a 'reset' button for the band, for everyone."
Check it out and see what it resets for you.
Listen to an MP3 of "Follow Me Gone" in the related files at right. More music by The Selfish Gene is available on its website and MySpace page, and a video featuring the group's Isthmus Band to Band Combat finals performance can be found on The Daily Page. The band will perform songs from What It Sees, Where It Sleeps and other parts of its catalog when it plays a show at the Frequency on Saturday, August 28.
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