This Is Cinema to pop in at B-Bop RecordsWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Chicago native Ben Babbitt is heading to Toledo for the first time Aug. 7, bringing his group This Is Cinema to perform at B-Bop records.
Babbitt began playing years ago, but his direction truly formed when he partnered with engineer Theo Karon.
“It’s sort of strange pop music and somewhat electronic, but there are always acoustic instruments involved, especially the voice,” Babbitt said. “It’s a difficult thing to pin down exactly. A friend of ours said we make dark, brooding electronic pop. I guess that’s the best way to put it.”
While that description sounds nothing like the Beatles, This Is Cinema’s name came from an interview with the band.
“They were discussing making a Beatles movie, and John Lennon jokingly said, ‘Let’s call it This Is Life,’ and Paul McCartney said, ‘This Is Cinema,’” Babbitt said. “I adopted that name and we’ve decided to stick with it.”
The band is releasing its first full album “Cycles” on Aug. 14.
“It was a long process of starting recording the songs before we knew what it was going to be,” Babbitt said. “We didn’t know we were going to put together this collection and release it the way we are doing it now. It started over a year ago.”
Putting the album together on their own schedule allowed Babbitt and Karon to experiment with the music.
“It took a long time for the amount of music,” Babbitt said. “Part of what we were doing was writing the songs while we were recording them in the studio. We experimented a lot with sounds and arrangements. Since we were recording it on our own, we could take as long as we wanted to.”
After exercising so much patience in making the album, Babbitt is anxious for its release.
“It’s always exciting to get to that final step,” he said. “We’ve worked hard on it. It’s exciting to have the CD out of our hands and into the world. We made one other EP a long time ago, but it doesn’t feel related anymore. It was basically a different band. So this is our first official release.”
Touring with the new material has been different from what Babbitt experienced on past tours.
“It’s been difficult but overall rewarding,” he said. “It’s a lot of fun to get out and play this stuff. We’ve had to reimagine things to play them live with just the two of us. It’s ended up more electronic. It’s been fun and we’ve received a good response. I’m definitely looking forward to playing in Toledo.”
This Is Cinema’s new album involves lots of engineering and guest appearances from Babbitt’s neighbors in the basement of Hotel Earth, so translating the music to live shows with just two performers has been a challenge.
“We stripped some things down,” Babbitt said. “It’s less about a traditional live rock band and more about using different equipment to reimagine certain parts of the arrangement from the album. I still feel like the cores of the songs are the same. The two of us play keyboards, I play guitar and there’s more singing. I feel like the songs still come across and are recognizable.”
Their stripped-down set will be on display Aug. 7 along with fellow Chicago indie artists Health&Beauty. The show begins at 7 p.m. at B-Bop records, located at 137 N. Michigan St. This is Babbitt’s first time playing a record store, but he’s grown accustomed to unique venues on this tour.
“We’ve played everything from a house show in Columbus to an art gallery. We’ve also played a couple bars and a proper venue in Manhattan. It’s been a variety of places. It’s challenging because you can’t just play the same thing every night. You end up playing for different people in different contexts. I enjoy that.”