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AND SO FORTH: Progressive band explores literary territory

by Ryan Snyder

AND SO FORTH: Progressive band explores literary territory

Every band or artist has a story to tell these days, but then there are some bands that really have a story to tell. Not the kind of story about how they overcame one rock-related mishap after another, but the kind of story that one might kick back with in a hardbound format on a rainy day. One Greensboro band has taken the narrative elements of classic mystery fiction and combined it with ethereal, moody progressive rock to create a more complete listening experience not often found in music today. Etcetera (www.myspace.com/etceteranc) is in the midst of producing a conceptual work that does more than simply please the ears of its listeners, but also engages their powers of deductive reasoning to create a multi-layered experience. While the idea of focusing on creating thematically-oriented material wasn’t the goal from day one for Etcetera, it did arise after years of experimentation. Originally called the Firefly Epidemic, the band’s original incarnation came together around four years ago and settled into the current lineup two years later. They tested a wide range of styles from acoustic ballads to lengthy, progressive epics in their earlier days and were decidedly heavier in sound overall. “We spent a lot of time searching for our sound,” said guitarist Justin Newman. “It made our writing skills so much better when we settled into this theme.” Unanimously, they decided to take a break from performing and when they regrouped, everyone had decided that they really wanted to do something completely different than had been perviously attempted, and then run with it. “We wanted to do something a little more in depth and serious,” said guitarist and vocalist Doug Francis. “This is where we’re at now and we wanted to do it under a different name.” Thus arose Etcetera, a name which the band took on only a few months ago. The band wanted a theme for its new work and eventually decided on scripting the music around a highly involved murder mystery that members describe as gaining influence from such period noir pieces as The Illusionist and From Hell. Set in the mid-1800s, the story centers on the aftermath of a grisly mass murder and the competition between a private investigator named Kensington and his main rival, Police Inspector Vincent, to solve it. The storyline, spread out over 11 tracks, is rife with several twists and surprises. Francis says that it’s completely solvable by the last track, but some attention must be paid to the clues that pop up throughout. Though the scene in which most bands like Etcetera comes up more or less shuns music that demands full attention to every lyric, this far from disqualifies them from casual appeal. Their sound is thick with psychedelic grooves and hooks that work with even the most transient crowds. Though a more captive audience would be ideal to convey the full effect of their work, Newman says he would rather their fans be able to dance and enjoy themselves. Still, Etcetera realizes that much of their work lend them to being a more of what they call “musician’s musicians,” meaning that many of their fans are other local artists looking for inspiration while appreciating the adventurous nature of the band’s concept. “We’ve really enjoy diving into it,” said Francis. Sometimes we dress closely to the period and the further we get into it, we plan on using props to enhance the theatrics in general.” While the album has yet to be produced, it will be titled To Be a Villain and production is scheduled to be completed in February 2009. In the meantime, the band intends to have demos of their work available to hand out at their Jan. 2 performance at Greene Street Club. Etcetera isn’t limiting itself to conceptual work, however. Though the band would like to expand the story in future recordings, the guys have recently completed work for a locally-produced horror film entitled Family Property as well. While only one title song was requested, a misunderstanding led the band to work around the clock on a short deadline to create and entire soundtrack of music. “We hadn’t even seen the movie beforehand, so we had to really come together and figure out how we were going to do it,” said bassist Thom Melillo. “We were really looking to Justin to give us some creepy sounds and feels, added drummer Thomas Turbeville. “That’s the first song we’ve actually written that we feel like was for non-musicians.” Though the band has yet to perform outside of North Carolina, they are currently involved in talks to tour the East Coast from New York to Florida. In addition, a small state-wide tour is planned for shortly after the album release.

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