Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Chicago band The Differents serving up sweetly melodic songs on new CD


Some things are just worth the wait.

Chicago band The Differents has just released its warmly melodic third album, "Christley Block." The album was originally recorded between 1999 and early 2002.

The Differents, comprised of Chris Meziere on bass, Dan Garrity on drums and Lou Hallwas on vocals/guitar, will perform June 14 at the Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont Ave., Chicago, at a CD release party for "Christley Block."

The Phil Angotti Band,  The Safes and The Handcuffs also are on the bill. The show starts at 9 p.m., and tickets are $8, available at www.ticketweb.com.

I had the chance to talk to The Differents frontman Lou Hallwas about the band's current activities.

Q - Great to talk to you. "Christley Block" was originally recorded between 1999 and early 2002. What made you want to release it at this time? How do you think the songs have stood up?

Thanks Eric, for chatting to me about the tunes! I basically want the music out there. I had a good long break from The Differents, and with time away, I really appreciate and am thankful for the time and people who played in the band.

The recordings we made weren't really made available to too many people. The funds weren't there. The Internet was dial-up.

Specifically though, with "Christley Block," as is often the case with most bands or musicians, the harshest critic you'll ever have is sitting there on your shoulder. Folks like us don't tend to put their most natural stuff/demos out there.

We sometimes seem to be too sensitive to what's coming out naturally. So, I'm basically tired of folks like me, and I really love what Chris Lordots got of us on tape at that time.

Sure, we can re-record, but why? It's all right there. It's how we sound. Dan Garrity and I sound like that together NOW! We're writing new songs now and letting things happen naturally.

These songs I think have aged well. They're simple, they're to the point and arranged accordingly.

I love them still. Anyone else may have overdubbed til the cows got jobs.

Q - I understand that Christley Block was the name of the building that you used to live in, and that some of the songs reference your days at Taft High School in Chicago. Is this one of the more personal albums that you have made?

Yes, the building is in Edison Park. I grew up in that area for the most part, and lived there in this building with our bass player, Chris Meziere and his wife, Traci.

It was a gas to be out on my own, room mates aside, for the first time. I found out a lot of things, as one does with first time anythings. I was nostalgic for the past.

The simplicity and the idealism, because this was a totally new experience for me. What I was writing was reflective of this.

A lot of creative things were going on in that apartment. Lots of songs were written. Chris is a song writer too.

We had people over all the time. So, it wasn't so much an album then. We recorded the songs with Chris Lordots, who also went to Taft with us, and is my closest friend to this day.

We recorded them as we got more familiar with them. This was all happening at the same time. The lyrics took longest, but these were experiences I knew were important.

They were humbling. I appreciated my parents more. The people in my life more. I think I insisted on going as personal as I could lyrically. My own voice.

Q - Is there a story behind The Differents' name?

The band formed in late 1992. Babies. The word "different" was showing up a lot, or I noticed it a lot.

In songs....Joe Jackson's "Right and Wrong"....he says that..."Right and Wrong, do you know the difference?"  It sounds like he's saying Different with an "s" at the end. Rob Schneider's comedic bit on Priscilla Presley's autobiography. Quoting Elvis as saying to her, "I'll treat you just like my sister, but different," cracked me up.

It seemed youthful, naive and boastful. None of the things I am now. It also seemed MOD. Also, asking for the band name to be continually misspelled by others. Ha.

Q - Now that "Christley Block" is out, The Differents will be working on its fourth CD. What are you goals for the album? When will it be released?

The goal is to have fun. Enjoy it. Write together or separately, whatever serves our little jazz band. We've got five or six songs so far.

However, it comes out is what I love about doing music. Let it happen. If we do three or four instrumentals, that's fine. It's music.

We're making it together. We'll record it when it's swinging... with Chris Lordots or ourselves.

Q - Your other band, Penthouse Sweets, also is working on a new album. How are you balancing your time in both bands? Does one band take priority over the other? Do you need both bands in your life?

I enjoy the gifts I get and give in both bands immensely! Love is not possessive!

The musical possibilities are endless when you play with a lot of people. It's completely intoxicating when things are working and the folks you're playing with listen to the whole rather than just themselves.

I play in a third band also, a country/swing outfit, Decoy Prayer Meeting. I find the time because it's what I love to do.

Q - Where do you see both The Differents and Penthouse Sweets fitting into the Chicago music scene? What do you think distinguishes the music scene in Chicago?

I don't know if we do, or how we would do it if we thought in those terms. I think we all just care about the whole of the song, and how to serve it.

Have fun with it, but come back to the simplest thing, its truest essence.

Writing and then playing a great song extremely well is still the point and biggest turn on. That's the whole of it I think for everyone in band.

Having a great time! There's no dance moves to work out. There's no light show. That's a non priority.

The human relation and communication is what I dig the most. The thing about the Chicago music scene is, there's nothing new under the sun, except, there's always something new under the sun.

There's a lot of talented people here, and I like a lot of the music they're making! We're playing with three of my favorites at The Beat Kitchen on June 14, Phil Angotti, The Safes and The Handcuffs.

This bill was no accident.

Q - What else is on the horizon for The Differents and Penthouse Sweets?

The horizon will be what we paint together. Do you like the corn?

When people make something together, a sound, a statement, art, they're basically saying: "I'm alive.

What the hell is going on? How long do we got? Is this a drag? No! Let's keep doing things that aren't a drag, let's hang around and be around people that aren't a drag."

For me, nothing does this better than playing music. Nothing. As long as it's fun, it shall continue to be done!

Thank you Frankie O'Malley for turning me on to that mantra.