April 18, 2006

San Fran's Tenebre finds significance through instrumental rock

For three years now, the members of San Francisco three-piece Tenebre have been balancing a full college load with what is becoming a full-time career in music. The band has steadily gained popularity in the Bay Area, and keeps busy, bringing their heady brand of jazz-inspired rock to the people.

Tenebre is anything but murky, as the band's name implies. Even without a leading vocalist, the theme of each song is clear, flawlessly transitioning leads from instrument to instrument.

The band is able to find a groove within the context of beauty without pretension or tang, weaving a tight net of double bass, warm guitar fuzz, and complex kit rhythms.

"A Shocking Twist" falls away about a minute in, taking the from the math-exactitudes of odd times to the slow nod of six-eight. "Cricket" employs the lows of cello to complement the sweet threes of Max Foreman's reverberating guitar.

"Libelle" is complex, a musical dialogue of guitar and bass, circling back and forth, finding common ground, and splashing through transitions to variations.

Tenebre has recently signed on to release a full-length, In Everything Give Thanks, this coming summer through Berkeley, CA's Unfun Records. A tour of the country will support the release.

Max Foreman (guitar), Daniel Pearce (drums), and Patrick Taylor (bass) from Tenebre recently took a few minutes to chat with TBL.

Did you all grow up in San Francisco?

Hell yes. Rep!

Has the San Fran area influenced the music? In what way?

Daniel: San Francisco alone is a great place for young and independent musicians because it manages to cultivate an artistically receptive social climate without becoming oppressively competitive or exclusive. New York City, for example, is a place in which there is an inordinate amount of artistic activity, yet it is characterized by a large number of tightly knit networks of musicians and aficionados that are impossible to insert yourself into. The Bay isn't plagued by this kind of exclusivity, yet it still contains plenty of people who are interested and involved.

Was Tenebre destined to be instrumental or did the pieces just fall into place, so to speak?

Max: When Daniel and I started writing the first Tenebre songs, before Patrick was even in the band, I don't think we had seriously considered a singer. We had always been a two-piece and were fine being minimal and self-sufficient. In the few months before we asked Patrick to play upright for us, our songs were mostly an attempt at playing techy rock music with odd time signatures, without any real aesthetic. The pieces really "fell into place" when we realized that playing our songs and exerting a kind of tension, breaking a sweat, was something significant.

Patrick: After I joined, there was talk about finding a singer to round out the band. But by the time we had our first songs down, we hadn't auditioned anybody to sing for us, and as we kept developing musically, the prospect of getting a singer seemed less and less needed for our sound. As of now, we are very content with an instrumental sound. I feel like a singer would have a hard time creating yet another register and successfully cut through.

The stand-up sounds so, so sweet especially on "Libelle." Patrick, have you always played the double? What do you think it lends to Tenebre's sound?

Patrick: I actually started playing acoustic bass about four years after having played electric. Initially, I was a little concerned about the acoustic for Tenebre. There were a few factors, including the question of "am I going to schlep this thing around to every show?" I was also nervous about the idea of traveling on tour with such a fragile instrument. But the acoustic has been a very good idea.

It gives a unique counter melodic sound to the guitar An acoustic bass has inherently less sustain than an electric, creating a more natural tone. I can play with more movement and avoid a muddy sound.

I read that you will be releasing an EP, and then a full-length, then going on tour. Tell me about the EP/LP.

Max: Our EP was a tour split with The Autumn Project from Iowa. Our side was four songs from the old sessions. We don't yet know if it will see a proper release, but we're hoping it will one day. The Autumn Project is a great band and we would like to see our split with them be available some day to the general public.

The full length, which we recorded in August, was written and structured mostly in my bedroom in Santa Cruz while Daniel and Patrick lived in New York and San Francisco. When Daniel and Patrick got back to San Francisco after extended vacations in late June and early July, we drilled the shit out of the new songs for three weeks, toured with the material for two weeks, practiced for three days, and recorded all of it in four sessions.

The full length is in the process of getting prepped for release. Hopefully we'll get it out by spring. Keep your eyes peeled.

Will you hit the East Coast on tour?

Max: Probably in the summer.

Check out cuts from Tenebre's upcoming album at www.tenebremusic.com or on the band's Myspace page: www.myspace.com/tenebre.

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