Thursday, November 1, 2018

Sonically adventurous Chicago band The Thin Cherries releases new album, will perform at the Debonair Social Club


There is no question that The Thin Cherries is one of the most sonically adventurous bands in the Chicago area.

The band's newly released sophomore album – "The Thin Cherries on Moose Island" – is further proof of that. To celebrate the release of the album, The Thin Cherries – headed by Chicago music veterans Steven Delisi and Mark Lofgren – will perform on Nov. 2 at the Debonair Social Club, 1575 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago.

The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets are $10. I had the chance to talk to Lofrgren – who is also a member of psychedelic band The Luck of Eden – about the new album.

Q – Great talking to you. Congratulations on the release of your sophomore album. In sitting down to make "The Thin Cherries on Moose Island," what were your goals and do you think you accomplished them? 

We really wanted this album to be a collaborative endeavor. For the debut album, Steven Delisi and I began by writing all the tracks on acoustic and/or electric guitars and gradually fleshed out the demos with drums, keys and additional instruments. Gabe (drums) and Birdie (keys) essentially joined the band at the tail end of the first albums release. 

Gabe played on a few tracks, but most of that first album was Steven, Darren Shepherd and myself playing all the instruments.

For "The Thin Cherries on Moose Island," we set out to work out the tracks as a live band before we went into the studio. Most of the basic tracks are live takes with all of us playing together at Kingsize Sound Labs, augmented by some vocal overdubs and additional instrumentation.

Thanks to super producer Mike Hagler, I think the whole album has a more organic, unpredictable feel and really represents how we’ve gelled as a band. Really, the only exception was the first single, “I Don’t Know You All,” which Gabe and I came up with in his basement studio.

We still tracked live drums and guitars to it, but that song was structured on the fly in one drunken night.

 Q – It seems like there should be a story behind the album's name. Is there? 

Steven came up with the album title track and this idea of a mythical island somewhere where we all lived together and played music; a weird David Lynch-like town with quirky locals and unusual wildlife, and one diner where all the townsfolk congregated in to discuss their daily lives.

My friend, Jim Laugelli, a great artist, did the cover painting of "On Moose Island."

Q – I understand that the two of you have known each other for more than 20 years. Would you say you have a musical kinship? What was the idea behind forming The Thin Cherries?

Steven was actually a student of mine when I taught digital video at a design college way back when. He was a bit of a late bloomer and we were roughly the same age and hit it off.

When I directed an indie feature years ago, I used one of his bands' songs in the movie. I really liked Steven’s musical sensibilities and voice, which reminded me of David Byrne.

When I was taking a break from my main band at the time, The Luck of Eden Hall, and recording a solo album, Steven heard some of my tracks and suggested working on songs together. Around the time when Steven and I were working on demo tracks, multi-instrumentalist and all around impressive guy Darren Shepherd offered to play drums and additional guitars.

And the rest is, as they say…not so ancient history.

Q – How have the influences in your other projects found their way into The Thin Cherries? Did you not want The Thin Cherries to sound like your other bands?

The Luck of Eden Hall is firmly rooted in psychedelia and has a nice following in Europe and a cult following here in the states, but I wanted this band to be more fluid and genre-shifting. There are psychedelic elements in some songs, but there’s also some straightforward pop and electronica, as well as some alt-country touches.

Having multiple songwriters and instrumentalists helps keep things fresh, too.

Q – Is The Thin Cherries your primary musical focus these days? Will you also be working on other projects as well? 

I’m still an active member of The Luck of Eden Hall, and Greg Curvey and I will be working on new songs this winter, but The Thin Cherries is my primary focus. Drummer Gabe Palomo is a well known electronica DJ and Darren also plays in the longstanding Chicago band Belmondos.

Keyboardist Birdie Soti is classically trained and puts up with the rest of our rock and roll musical failings with humor and grace.

Q – What do you think of the Chicago music scene and how do you think you fit into it? 

I love the variety of music you can hear in Chicago on any given night, from blues to folk to hardcore punk. There are too many great Chicago artists and bands to mention and the scene is always inspiring.

I really have no idea how we fit in; we’re just trying to have fun and play music we love.