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Menomena turn to computers for help

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Photo courtesy of Alicia J. Rose


Menomena (Justin Harris, Brent Knopf and Danny Seim) play the Red Room tomorrow night.





When faced with creative differences, the musicians in Menomena turn to a computer.





‘Deeler’ acts as the band’s sonic archive. Originally conceived by guitarist/singer/keyboardist Brent Knopf as a way for a solo artist to perform dozens of parts at the same time, Digital Looping Recorder (DLR/Deeler) became integral to the band’s songwriting.





“The problem I wanted to solve was how do you perform 20 layers onstage when there’s only one (person),” said Knopf. “The first songs we did were hilarious — just us acting really silly, singing anti-odes to people who were driving us crazy.”





After that initial honeymoon, Deeler was inaugurated into the Portland-based band. Knopf explained how by removing the pressure to record perfect-sounding parts for a finished track, the tool allows for unexpected turns of sound and fully collaborative songwriting.





“In one Deeler session, we’ll record three dozen audio files on the hard-drive, each of which is a potential part of a song,” he said. “Once the songs are arranged, each one of us feels included.”





When writing songs, the three members take turns playing improvised parts into Deeler. Members then download to Pro-Tools, each tinkering hip-hop drums, piano, baritone saxophone, whistles, vocals or other instruments into a track. Once completed, the band sits down and learns to perform the song live.





“We’re not following any rules I know of — besides how to rock,” Knopf said with a laugh.





Performing a few months ago in support of their third album, the critically acclaimed Friend And Foe, Menomena had a great time at Pat’s Pub in Vancouver, though things were dicey at first.





“When we walked in ... we saw two-dozen 60-year-old men watching hockey — it was like a bowling alley without bowling,” he said. “We were like ‘uh-oh, are we supposed to be playing here?’… (But) it turned out great.”



rob.mcmahon@metronews.ca

 
 
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