SXSW preview: the Mid-Atlantic
Ryan Nelson of the band Soccer Team is a D.C. punk lifer. He grew up in Maryland, worked at Dischord Records and played in D.C.-area bands for decades, including late '90s post-hardcore rockers the Most Secret Method, the Routineers and Beauty Pill.
In the early 2000s, when he was playing various instruments with Beauty Pill, he started recording song ideas on an old Tascam 388 eight-track in his Anacostia neighborhood home.
"I would come home from work and just record all the time," Nelson said. "I didn't write music for Beauty Pill, so I just had a ton of stuff that was just there."
His fellow Dischord employee Melissa Quinley was into the idea of working with Nelson. "It was like, ‘Let's make a fake band,'" Nelson said. "But Melissa really stuck with me and worked hard on this stuff. Sometimes, you start project bands with people and they don't really rise to the occasion, but she was always down to work. I would give her tapes, and the next day she would have written lyrics."
"We had no plans to release the stuff; it was just for fun," Quinley said. "But we played it for (Dischord co-owner) Ian (MacKaye), and he wanted to put it out, which was really weird." Their album "‘Volunteered' Civility and Professionalism" appeared in 2006, filled with spit-and-bailing wire songs that owned as much to basement indie rock as post-hardcore rock.
A few shows with fill-in drummers followed.
And the, uh, rather simple band name? Nelson laughs: "That was an old joke between me and my brother (Marc Nelson, who played with Ryan in Most Secret Method). We always thought that was the worst possible band name. I started writing it on the tapes I gave Melissa just to amuse myself, and she really liked it. So it stuck."
A few years ago, Nelson put Soccer Team to sleep, decamped to Kalmazoo, Mich., to finish his bachelor's degree and played with the band Minutes while there. He flew back to D.C. in 2010 to work on some Soccer Team stuff, then returned to D.C. last year for good.
A new, three-song Soccer Team EP appeared last November on Lovitt Records, also out of the D.C. area. The band, including touring drummer Marc Cisneros, plays a Wednesday day party at Lovejoys, a Thursday day show at Club 1808 and the SXSW showcase at 9 p.m. Thursday at Deseo Centro Lounge.
Five more Mid-Atlantic bands
From: Philadelphia, Penn.
In 50 words or fewer: Old school (read: 1992-style) indie rock from a duo turned quartet (they swear there are four, though only three are in photos — is one invisible?). Yes, they used to be called Reading Rainbow. The new name is far, far better and less likely to annoy PBS.
Could share a bill with: Small Factory, Sebadoh, a Clinton/Gore campaign rally.
Official showcase: 12:05 a.m. March 16 at the Iron Bear
From: Washington, D.C.
In 50 words or fewer: Brothers John and Paul Thornley teamed up with a rhythm section in 2008 to play big-bore, wide-screen rock. Their album, "Mirrors," arrived last January and is aided by the fact that John Thornley can actually sing, a rarity in indie rock.
Could share a bill with: Neil Young, Coldplay, Hall and Oates.
Official showcase: 11:30 p.m. Wednesday
From: Washington, D.C.
In 50 words or fewer: Deleted Scenes' Talking Headish art rock often builds up from its rhythms — programmed, double kick-drum-produced, whatever — but also translates well acoustically. Check out their 15-minute Portland session on their website for proof.
Could share a bill with: Abe Vigoda, Black Kids, David Byrne
Official showcase: 7 p.m. March 17 at Swan Dive
From: Baltimore, Md.
In 50 words or fewer: Hideous noise rock, once all over the place in the late '80s and early '90s, seems to be making a glorious comeback; these Maryland misfits have been abusing pedals and amps since 2009. Their new album is due on Drag City in the spring.
Could share a bill with: The Men, Jesus Lizard, Monotonix, Unsane
Official showcase: 8 p.m. March 16 at the Whiskey Room
The Flying Eyes
In 50 words or fewer: These guys play rock the way it was intended in 1973 — laid back, heavy and bluesy. They also produce "Farm Fest," a psych rock music festival in Maryland; this year's line up includes Black Moth Super Rainbow, White Hills, Serpent Throne and the Flying Eyes and takes place July 7 at the Carney Farm in Manchester, Md.
Could share a bill with: Blue Cheer, Dead Meadow, The Raveonettes
Official showcase: 11 a.m. March 16 at B.D. Riley's