Despite two years of complete dormancy in terms of shows and releases, the Indie Rock quartet have continued to collaborate, albeit at a very casual pace. So, what have they been doing during their non-hiatus? Enjoying a steady lineup, mainly. And this consistency in personnel has provided ample opportunity for them to create a more complex and evolved sound.
Members have come and gone since singer/guitarist Sammy McKee assembled the band back in early 2003. The other constant has been guitarist Brian Hoffman, who is also his Hyperstatic bandmate. Without a doubt, the chemistry of the pair (who met through the Teenbeat Records mailing list back in 2000) allows them to form the complementary riffs that are view-finder's core.
"Sammy and I have been together long enough that once he starts playing, I almost know immediately what I'm going to play," says Hoffman. "We coalesce very quickly, then it's just a matter of refining the parts."
Another crucial addition was drummer Joe Suer.
The band's early material was built primarily around McKee's song ideas, and Suer's explosive playing breathed the perfect amount of life into each track, stitching together old-school Punk and Post Rock influences. He was also instrumental in getting the first album recorded and mixed.
When the release date for its eponymous debut neared, the band found itself without a bass player. Suer's former Readymaid bandmate Gregg Wilson stepped up to the proverbial plate and learned the entire catalog in just a few weeks before the CD release party. (The band's recordings are available for free download on their Web site.)
That show ended a year-and-a-half run of gigs whose ferocity matched the cathartic songs that view-finder had produced (the band struggles to recall who smashed what at which show). Once this initial flurry of activity was over, the now-solidified foursome went about working on new material. Slowly.
"We've taken our time," laughs Suer. "We'll get together every week for three weeks and then take two weeks off and continue to work on the same five or six songs. I think that's been a really healthy approach."
It also allows them plenty of time to participate in other projects, of which there are many. Suer also plays for Caterpillar Tracks and with Wilson in Goodnight Satellite. In fact, their history brings to view-finder a bond very much like McKee and Hoffman's, sometimes making for the musical equivalent of a wrestling match between two pairs of conjoined twins.
"We're playing totally different shit than what they're playing," McKee confides. "I think that's part of what makes it work."
The "it" is a departure from the uniform sound of the first album that has been achieved by adding more depth and texture to each new song and also by allowing broader interpretations from their conception.
"It feels more rhythmic to me," offers Wilson. "We have some songs in the same spectrum, but there are oddballs that are really pushing the envelope one way or another."
Another leap for the band is the use of a new practice/recording space that is being developed by Suer and his CT bandmate Dave Cupp. The upgraded gear and added recording experience will allow view-finder greater creative leverage when it comes time to documenting the new material.
As Hoffman explains, "We definitely want to make a conscious effort to use different equipment, mic placement and recording techniques. We want the next album to be cohesive, but we want the songs to be unique."
McKee's enthusiasm for the project is obvious, even when hidden behind pithy statements such as, "I like recording. Except that I don't know how to do it."
Admittedly, he does more enjoy focusing on the business and creative side of things. For instance, he is plotting a 12-inch vinyl release of the new album, possibly with different mixes than the CD.
When Suer mentions that one of his other bands is considering the same, Sammy's poker-faced response is immediate: "Ours has to be thicker than theirs."
VIEW-FINDER (view-finder.net/) plays Friday at the Southgate House Parlour with Sleeping in the Aviary and Area Code.