Melody, harmony and basic songcraft are not what one would usually associate with a band named "The Terrors." Due to their relative "newness" (the band formed in summer 2004) and the name, one might expect a noisy drone or a cacophony of bad tunings, barely competent playing and shrieking vocals. One might really expect this when one learns that the band has taken their name from "night terrors" -- the sudden awakening from an early stage of sleep with a feeling of unrestrained dread and horror. The Terrors are nothing of the sort though.
"We try to dabble in everything," says lead singer/guitarist Luke Pace on the band's sound. "If the four of us -- coming from different musical backgrounds -- can agree that (what we're playing) is really good, then that's our direction."
Well, yeah, you might say, who wouldn't agree on such a thing? However, considering that Pace and "Bighead" (drums) are classically trained and Shane Wingert (bass) and Nick Mitchell (keys/vocals) are more "from the heart" players, the statement takes on another dimension.
The band paints on the same sonic canvas as U2 with the psychedelic colors of Pink Floyd: big, sprawling -- albeit richly filled -- spaces that soar in Pace's guitar lines and in his harmonic vocal interplay with Mitchell. And, as Mitchell says, "The rhythm section's very Hip Hop," but it's a jazzy sip of gin 'n' juice rather than an MC's guzzle. The classically trained sensibilities of Pace and Bighead also come into play in their intricate but not wanking melodies. ("We're too ADD to overkill anything," says Mitchell.)
Their sound is a panoramic vista of a forest in which the bark on the trees is finely detailed but the leaves are more abstractly rendered, the precision of oil paints and the freedom of watercolors combined to make a satisfying whole. The studied approach of Prog Rock blended with the abandon of Punk and applied with the energy and passion that comes from simply making music you love.
Their live show is a testament to that passion: It has the endearing-but-passionate rough edges of a young band going for broke on stage, but it also has the sure edge of musicians who know exactly what to do with their instruments, if not always themselves. And that makes for exciting viewing as well as listening; visually, it seems as if everything is going to fly apart at any second, but the music holds everything together. It's a subtle give and take. The Terrors transport -- rather than whip -- the audience into a frenzy.
As mentioned before, the band identifies with Hip Hop, but a little bit more in theory than actual practice. "The juxtaposition is there," says Pace. "Hip Hop is just such an ambient thing with a story told over it, whereas Classical music is so intricate ... it tells a story without words. Our influences really don't come from what kind of music we want to play; we vibe more from feeling, or really good lyrics, or unconventional song structure more than anything else."
Currently, The Terrors are recording their first CD with Chris Schmidt of Shepherd's Pie Recording, who is providing direction and advice to the band. "I think (Schmidt) is excited about us because we're not just laying down some power chords," says Pace of the recording. "We're really going over it so (Schmidt) can have more fun with it. It's refreshing (for him), I think, to have someone who's into (the process)." The band estimates that the CD will be out by fall 2005, and they also have an EP in the works that will be out soon.
THE TERRORS (purevolume.com/theterrors) next perform Jan. 29 at The Mad Frog with FLUTTR, Sunspot and Bluf.