"We really didn't know how to do it. It was kind of figuring things out," Violens' Jorge Elbrecht says of playing in bands in the late '90s South Florida music scene. It revolved around Cheers, he remembers. "There was nothing else to do; everyone just went to these shows. It was pretty fun." His bands Dynamo Plaza andJ.E. and Justin G
. -- which garnered heavy rotation on WVUM -- were staples. He noted other acts of the era like Swivelstick and the Agency, calling the whole deal "a tiny punk community."
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attention. It bore no resemblance to the music he made down here; he
started with what he called a clean slate. It was a concept band, an art-project-type
thing. A group of friends with similar interests put together what was
like a collective but also a band. They used audio and visual components and even
fictional stories to create a body of work. Elbrecht didn't generally perform live. It had other musicians play its
songs onstage, though Elbrecht admits to having participated, playing bass with them a few
times. This freed him up to create in other ways "so that we could
work. We were pretty involved in the visual side of what we were doing."
hasn't been making visual art lately; he's too preoccupied. "Music is
pretty much my obsession. I spend all day, every day, doing it, thinking
Violens' new album, True, will be released next month. It's almost playful, the movement of the rhythms and volume. But the album is also in many ways serious and the music ethereal. Easy to listen to yet complex.
it was a much more fun record to make than those he'd worked on previously for a variety of reasons. "Most of the things I've done in the past
have been pretty painful for me," he admits. "Everything just took very long. I was
learning to use all this gear and doubting local performances and
doubting arrangement ideas. This one, I worked more with
the band. I relied much more on the rest of the guys and their
songwriting ideas." This sort of enjoyment, he thinks, shines through in
their performances as well.
"What I figured out with this
record, which is something hard to come by these days, we want to record
more together in a room with the whole band." While most people record
from home on laptops, Violens was lucky enough to get together in a
studio. "It really has a big impact on our recording," he says. He's hopeful
they'll be able to do more recording of that kind, but just being able to play his
music, he feels, is enough for now.
Violens is going on tour with Lower Dens, then off to Japan and the U.K. Violens will release a limited-edition seven-inch for the single "Totally True" on April 17. True is scheduled for release on May 15 on Slumberland Records.