Paucity to play at the OT on July 27Written by Nick Marlow | | firstname.lastname@example.org
In their formative years as musicians, guitarist Jared Wekenman and bassist and keyboardist Kertis Lytle of Paucity toiled around the local rock ‘n’ roll scene searching for what all artists crave: success. But when the Grand Rapids, Mich., natives realized their course of action wasn’t working, they ditched the pipe dream of romping in the mainstream alternative landscape for a new philosophy.
“We just gave up on trying to impress people and just wanted to do something that we were proud of. That was when we started playing Paucity music,” Wekenman said. “We really didn’t expect people to take on to it that much, but in Michigan it really took off extremely quickly and kind of recharged our hope in playing music.”
When Paucity, an instrumental progressive rock band, formed in 2003, Wekenman said the local scene was rife with groups trying to re-create the hits of East Lansing, Mich., stalwart The Verve Pipe, and that revamping the tunes of a ’90s rock ‘n’ roll era that the industry had moved away from was not in the cards for Paucity.
“I would not speak ill of The Verve Pipe, especially what they were doing at the time,” Wekenman said. “But when me and Kertis let go of that certain brand and started playing music that was more the story of our own time, our own place after the ’90s, I think people responded to something that seemed like their own lives right now as opposed to a sound that they remembered from when they were 14.”
Paucity will perform at The Ottawa Tavern July 27. Wekenman said the band will mainly play songs from the second album, “Deer Bird Bear Ship,” which was released through Friction Records in 2009, but will preview songs from the new album, set to be released in early 2013.
Paucity credits Mogwai, Tortoise and Don Caballero as major influences of the group’s sound, which strays from the “pregnant repetition of emotive chord progression” and “over-glorification of technical prowess” that have become stale in prog-rock, according to the band’s Myspace page.
The three-piece band has endured several lineup changes. Former keyboard player Ric Carrol recently left the group to focus on a single-serving baby formula invention that he has patented and sold, and drummer Sam Hutchinson left to concentrate on raising his children, Wekenman said. Jay Bolt joined about a year-and-a-half ago to replace Hutchinson. “Deer Bird Bear Ship” was written and recorded while Paucity still had four members.
Though it sounds impromptu and experimental, the oft-psychedelic feel of “Deer Bird Bear Ship” was premeditated. Each song idea, often arising from an extended jam session, is subjected to a long and thorough workshopping process before the final product is written and recorded.
“We learn songs in such a way that they’ll sound a little bit more free-formed than they actually are, but we generally know exactly, note-for-note, what we’ll play and when we’ll play it,” Wekenman said.
The group took two years to finish “Deer Bird Bear Ship.”
“It takes a long time, and it’s a result of each of us being fairly unyielding on squalls that we have within songs. If something is not up to snuff for any one of the members then it goes back into the workshop until everybody agrees that it’s ready.”
Wekenman said the album was an expression of the difficulties of finding success in Michigan. He endeavored to live in Seattle while working for a video game company but eventually moved back to Grand Rapids. He said that while the money was good, it was not fulfilling. It didn’t feel like home, a place which he is emotionally torn over.
“The Midwest is a kind of a tough place and it can feel like a grind sometimes,” Wekenman said. “The album for us was the story of living in Michigan. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sometimes it’s beautiful in a way that’s kind of heartbreaking.”