Music Issue 2013: Musical warriors

Multiple musical personalities — A handful of Louisville musicians stay busy in different bands

Jul 10, 2013 at 5:00 am
Music Issue 2013: Musical warriors
photo by frankie Steele

That our city has such a rich musical history is at times undercut by the incestuous nature of our bands; it can seem less like we have so many talented individuals and more like we have just a few willing to play musical chairs. As a musician, I’ve at times found myself with an inability to reconcile my sonic ideas as something similar enough to be covered by one umbrella. Having found my own path to creative harmony, I wonder: How does everyone else do that? How do you split your attention without losing your focus?

Given the necessity of gainful employment, logistically speaking, time would seem to be the most obvious constraint. For Duncan Cherry, a current member of Straight A’s, Late Ones and an unnamed new project and a former member of two-dozen others, “I’m lucky enough to have a job that lets me do it and a partner that appreciates my creativity. It’s all part of a routine to me these days.”

Carrie Neumayer of Julie of the Wolves, Second Story Man and Early Age agrees: “It is tough sometimes. I am in three bands right now, and I have promised my husband that will be all! I choose band practices or playing shows over other most ways of interacting socially.”

Dave Howard of Relic and The 23 String Band also worries about how his love of music affects his relationships. “I’ve just recently learned how much inviting my girlfriend to come hang out at some of the out-of-town gigs can ease tension in our relationship. I always thought of touring as a job, because it is, but sharing the trials and joys of that experience with a partner can be done without compromising professional boundaries: ‘Welcome to the merch table, puddin’!’”

When asked about the possible creative drain multiple artistic outlets may create, the answers were uniformly similar: Creativity is a necessity. Neumayer notes, “I am easily distracted, so I guess it works out pretty well. The bands I play in are pretty different from one another, so it doesn’t feel like anything is redundant.”

Howard says, “My current groups are similar in direction, so I feel like they don’t split my attention as much as they split my time.”

Cherry adds, “Splitting myself in several directions just comes with the territory, I think. It’s what I know.”

Ben Sears of Black God and Early Age likes the options multiple bands provide him. “Rather than having one band that is an unorganized mess of styles I want to play, I’d rather have the option of playing different kinds of music with different people.”

So what’s the takeaway from all this hard work? The consensus seems to be that it isn’t so much a lack of resources as an overabundance of creativity — and a careful attendance to priority. It’s just fun to make sounds of all sorts with friends. Sears summarizes it for everyone: “Remember to have fun, because it’s just a band. Respect the other band members and make sure everyone’s on the same page.”