All the rock; none of the groin thrusts
By Simon McCormack
"Having (a singer) would add another interesting element to the group, but not at the expense of having one that sucks." So says Tim Dempsey, guitarist for the all-instrumental indie band The Build, and there are quite a few bands who should listen in.
Without a lead vocalist, The Build may never be the most popular band in Albuquerque. But, perhaps more importantly, they don't have to worry about being another local band with potent instrumentation and a singer that you frankly wish would shut the hell up.
"In general, I think people don't really listen to the music, they listen to the lyrics," Dempsey theorizes while sitting alongside his fellow bandmates. He may be right, but The Build still seems resigned to the idea of continuing on without a lead vocalist.
The band's inhibitions about adding a new member stem from the collective understanding that the music they've create over their relatively short stint as a group stands on its own as intricate, technically sound rock.
The songs have no guitar solos and very few chords. Instead, The Build cultivates an arpeggio-based, undistorted sound that is accentuated by Ryan Jarvis' loose but unobtrusive drum parts. "For a band with no lead vocals, we've been surprisingly well-received," Jarvis says. Lyrics or not, The Build's sound is very catchy.
Since November of last year, the Build has played shows at the Launchpad, Burt's Tiki Lounge and the Compound, opening for national acts like Via Satellite, Tristeza and the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex. They have also put together an eight-song demo CD, unofficially titled Thanks Sean, in appreciation for the free studio time and mixing they received from Oktober People guitarist Sean McCollough. The demo is about the length of your average EP and is free at the band's shows. It sums up The Build's sound; moving from serene, inelaborate intros to burgeoning climaxes.
Dempsey says the band hopes to have a full-length CD as well as a website in the near future. When pressed for an exact date, Dempsey wryly remarks, "The wheels are in motion."
Like any band with other commitments, The Build mostly relies on the support of a few local promoters to land gigs. Launchpad manager Luis Mota has gotten the band several shows at his venue.
"We've been really fortunate to never have to work to get shows," guitarist Ian Vetter says. "It allows us to concentrate on other things like practicing and writing songs."
You won't see any groin thrusts or bravado from The Build on stage. Standing straight legged and staring at their guitar necks is more their style. Still, after their fair share of gigs, The Build no longer look like they want to crawl into a hole. Musically, their performances prove that a band can have a big sound without distorted power chords and shrieking vocals. Their precisely timed transitions offer proof that they are not a jam band.
While guitarist Ian Vetter was in China and Jarvis spent a couple months on a boat in the Atlantic, The Build took most of the summer off. But The Build has finally returned from their hiatus and will headline a show at Burt's Tiki Lounge on Saturday, Nov. 5. Black Tie and Lowlights (featuring Dameon Lee) will join them on the bill.
Check out The Build online on their MySpace website, www.myspace.com/thebuild. You can get updates and more info on The Build and listen to their demo CD.
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Erika Wennerstrom • singer-