by Jeff Milo
Nothing and Everything and Anything can make sense.
With so much music behind us, "...such lineage," as singer/songwriter Jeff Howitt put it; with such a wide-palmed grasp of various terminology (however much of it useful or however much of it passe slang), ...with our heads' uploaded with information and trivia and historical tid-bits and professional tips, rounded perceptions of myriad genres and styles, we are equipped with keen sensibilities for eclecticism.
We're open-minded. Forget the noise, the quick and dirty labels. On certain nights, inside the studio, when you hit record for a room full of a dozen different musicians, preconceptions spill away, forgotten.
There's "...just musicians playing together."
Line em up into the studio:
Your rhythm section comes from a collective and you've got two rappers rhyming over soul-singers while a psyche-rocking guitarist is sitting in on trumpet; an indie-rock girls adding her vocal talents over the buzzy chimes of an esteemed keyboardists with 50 years' experience adding tasteful accoutrements all to back up a rock quartet that's often pegged for being "all over the place."
Thus it was that Duende laid down what will be a single called "Detroit J.," featuring members from Passalacqua, Will Sessions, Pewter Cub and the Electric Fire Babies, as well as McKinley Jackson (who plays with The Wrong Numbers).
"There was no conversations about: 'rappers over a country-rock band,'" Howitt said, "it's just music. These are just musicians responding to each other."
The single has not determinate plans as of this week; it could come out as soon as September, but potentially later into the early winter.
"Somehow, it all operates," Howitt said, beguiled by the synchronicity stitched through what could have been chaos; each needle threads itself and eventually you get some weird wonderful sonic patchwork.
It brings a luminescence into the studio, brilliant glows from each contributor fuzzing together.
Sang and left unspoken.
"People call these things, almost rudely, like: rock n roll, or jazz. They're all slang terms to people," Howitt said. "It's almost like, whatever 'Establishment' wouldn't let it be called 'real' music, so they deemed it: 'Rap.' Or, it's 'Rock n roll.'"
This was a moment, Howitt says, captured onto five minutes and thirty-six seconds of tape, "when it was -just-music."
"There's all these things you can do but it's really just music; so you might as well find the best way for that piece to translate."
"Yeah, Passalacqua's gonna be Passalacqua and Duende's gonna be Duende but they come together all of a sudden at these places where I'd had no idea there'd be an overlap."
Singer Kate Hinote (of the Blueflowers) also contributed one of the many tracks laid down, recently, by Duende. "Even with that, with the Blueflowers, they're more like the beautiful-twilight and angels-singing-to-you," visioned Howitt, "while we're the weirdos-in-the-forest you just spent the night with, not-quite-Easy-Rider-ish, but... But still, our bands work together for live shows. It's those ideas behind a band, the idea of keeping a band together."
Lineage. Ideas. Blending ideas.
It's establishing a myth for your band, Howitt said. Sustaining your gang.
Making your own lineage.
And when so many players from so many different gangs come into one room for one song...
"...it's a pretty interesting place to be at."
The band (Duende, that is) are 85% through with initial tracks for a full length, with "Detroit J." and twelve other songs recorded at Tempermill with Dave Feeney. There'll be an EP out later this year on Checkers' Record Collective and, at some other point, an exclusive 2-song single promising more genre-bending. But for determinate details, you'll have to just stay tuned to the band's site.