Bangor native Andrew Mead and Loretta Allen, an Illinois transplant, met while paddling a canoe through the waters of Lake Mooselookmeguntic, near Rangeley in western Maine. Ironic, considering that their low-tech beginning preceded a high-tech present. The pair now make up two-thirds of the Portland based electronic rock trio The Other Bones — the other third being guitarist Eric Bruce — and with their array of digital gadgets and instruments, they’re a band set squarely in 2012. The Other Bones will play with seven other Maine bands starting at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21 at the Bear Brew Pub in Orono, as part of the latest WPC Presents show. It will be their first live performance with their full technological set up.
“I don’t think what we do really makes sense to people until they see us do it live,” said Mead, who for years played in a number of bands seen regularly in Bangor, like the Andy Mead Band and People & Things. “It’s hard to really get all the things we do with sequencers and loop pedals and the iPad just by listening to it. You have to see it. That’s why we’re so excited for this show.”
But back to the beginning. Mead, now 24, and Allen, now 23, were in that canoe together, on an orientation trip for new students at Tufts University in Boston. That was 2006, but for three years after that, their paths never crossed. Mead played guitar and sang in his bands, and Allen studied media at Tufts, all the while honing her big, beautiful, soulful voice. Both have musical backgrounds — Mead’s father is a guitarist, and Allen sang in church and did musical theater as a girl. But it wasn’t until the end of college that the two reconnected, after both took music classes at Tufts. Allen sang for a People & Things EP. They graduated, they decided to keep playing together, they both moved to Portland, and then, most importantly, Mead underwent a creative reinvention.
Bangor audiences knew Mead as an acoustic indie pop troubadour — a bit of Dave Matthews here, some Beatles melodiousness there. With The Other Bones, he’s put that aside in favor of a warm, lush, electronic sound that bears far more resemblance to bands like MGMT, Yeasayer, Passion Pit and even early Bjork or Depeche Mode. In other words: light years from the Andy Mead Band.
“It’s a pretty dramatic switch for me from what I was interested in before,” said Mead. “I’ve always been interested in the production side of things and into electronic music, and I just decided that that’s where I wanted to go with my music. I had an electronic setup all on my own, and it seemed like vocals would fill it out perfectly. Thankfully, there’s Lori and Eric, or else it wouldn’t go much further than that.”
Allen’s voice is a gorgeous instrument, influenced by r&b/soul and able to soar high above and hold its own with the highly dance-able clicks and thumps and propulsive synth and guitar sounds of Mead and Bruce.
“I think it helps make us distinctive, from other bands that have a more electronic style,” said Allen. “And singing in this kind of soulful way is by far the most fun thing for me. It’s the style of singing that is most rewarding for me.”
Bruce joined the band this past year, after Mead and Allen knew they needed a third member to fill out their sound. With the duel guitar attack thanks to Bruce, Mead’s programming and Allen’s shimmering vocals, the three knew they had a sound to stick with. Within a few weeks of auditioning, Bruce was playing with them at a gig last summer at Ipanema Bar & Grill in Bangor.
An album is in the works for later this year, but in the meantime, The Other Bones have released a string of music videos, directed by Portland videographer Jason Bosch. The videos give a glimpse of their performing technique, which, as we said earlier, will have its full live debut this Saturday at the Bear Brew.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking, yes, because we’ve been working on this for a long time and we’re just so excited to really show it off to people and see if they like it,” said Allen. “I think we all feel really excited about the band and everything that we’re doing. It’s just so much fun.”
The Other Bones will play with Frank and the Red Hots, Lit on the Flash, Tallions, Queen City, James Reiss, Scott McAllister, and Boxes at the Bear Brew Pub, as part of the latest WPC Presents showcase. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the show is 21 plus.
Video for “Feel Like Home,” dir. Jason Bosch