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Metavari: giving hope to those who listen

By Sean Smith

Fort Wayne Reader

2007-08-19


There is a scene in The Royal Tenenbaums where Royal, the patriarch of the Tenenbaum family (broken though it may be) is exposed and the family becomes aware of his 'scam' to worm his way back into the family fold. No longer convinced that he is 'dying' of stomach cancer, he finds himself out in the cold and tries to explain that he has a renewed sense of hope. His youngest son, Richie, points out that he was never really dying, to which Royal counters, "But, I'm gonna live!" That best encapsulates the music and message of Metavari. Giving a sense of hope and renewal to those who are willing to listen.

Metavari consists of Ty Brinneman (bass), Tommy Cutter (guitar, programming, video), Andrew McComas (drums), Simon Lesser (guitar, rhodes, production) and Nate Utesch (rhodes, guitar, programming). Everyone pitches in to play Moog prodigy, synths, xylophone, organ and piano. All of them have played in various bands over the years and Lesser and Utesch, in particular, have played in nearly a dozen bands together.

"I'd like to think this band has been taking shape and evolving into what now is Metavari since Simon and I were freshman in college," offers Utesch, "It's had a hundred different names and a hundred and one different people involved, but the pursuit has been the same. The most recent vision of this band took place a couple years ago. It was called Nas Bancas, an instrumental rock band with no live drums, but electronic beats and programming. We'd paint these quasi-experimental 'soundscapes' underneath what we'd later attempt to write songs over. Greatly influenced by the ambient work of Brian Eno. But, for two guys who played punk rock for the first half of their lives, it took a good year to get it off the paper and express it in the studio in a way we were actually proud of. Our goal in the end was just to push each other to create something beautiful and unique to what we've ever written before. After Simon left for China, I started working with Tommy and Ty on developing a different set of Nas Bancas songs. Things took shape and it all came together when we added Andrew. Simon recently returned from China and it's exciting to have all five of us in the same room at the same time now."

Metavari is one band that literally lets the music do the talking and Lesser says that it was an obvious reason to not include vocals. "Basically, it came down to two things. The first was that we realized that neither Nate or I could sing. Nate used to sing in the punk bad we were in together and he continued singing in a few projects after that. But one day we just kind of sat down and had to face the facts that neither of us would probably ever be good enough singers for another person to want to listen. The second reason is that we were starting to listen to a lot more instrumental music at that time. The music that we were listening to that did have vocals seemed to use vocals as another instrument. So, we said, 'Why not instrumental music?'"

Being an instrumental band has helped them to form a sort of kinship with the members of All Nite Skate, but Utesch says that also has to do with the fact that they are of similar age and have also played in plenty of bands over the years as well. But, does being tagged an instrumental band ever get the best of these guys? McComas says not really. "Labels don't really bother me like that. I just really like what we're about as a band."

So, just what are they about? McComas says energy and hope and Utesch tends to agree. "I hope people get a sense of hope from our music," points out Utesch, "When I listen to intrumental music I put a story behind it. Everything I picture in my mind when we play together has to do with hope. There's so much that's happened to the five of us in our lives, if we didn't understand what it means to have a true sense of hope for the people around us, none of this would look the same. I'm inspired by creation. I've got this conviction inside of me that if I've been created in the image of an extraordinary creator, then I'm going to spend the rest of my life creating and writing and drawing inspiration from everything that is beautiful."

Cutter is influenced by everything around him, but "nothing puts me in a better mood than nice weather." McComas finds inspiration in his unborn son, Brinneman by the idea of life being breathed into dirt and Lesser has found his travels to be inspiring. "Usually, when I'm making music, I'm recalling places or people I've seen," he says.

Musically, they are all influenced by everything from Bob Dylan and John Lennon to Pedro the Lion and Sigur Ros. These influences have caused those who have heard Metavari to suggest that they sound like The Album Leaf, Mogwai and Notwist. Others have quizzically offered that they sound similar to Aphex Twin.

Of course, it may be too soon to pin the sound down. So far, they've only played one show, although it was very well attended and they hope that there continues to be an audience. "Upwards of 180 people showed up," reports Utesch, "The response couldn't have gone better. Our friends are really good at humoring us."

McComas was also thrilled at the turnout. "It was quite reassuring that we have people supporting us and that there are actually people in Fort Wayne that enjoyed what we did."
Metavari have a handful of gigs lined up for the next few months, one of them will be an opening slot for Ike Reilly. Not too shabby. "I'm really excited," shares McComas, "It is a great opportunity to share more of what we are about."
"I just hope we can bring the rock," adds Cutter.

"How do I feel about the Ike Reilly gig?" asks Utesch, "How do you feel about Pepsi Twist? Pretty damn good I hope!"

Soon enough the guys will find themselves recording their first E.P. and possibly doing some touring around the country. But for now they are content to play their music for those that will listen and to spread a message that will last after the music fades out. "I'd love for people to take a message to love their neighbor as themselves and bring peace to the world, but we haven't quite figured out how to work that into our music yet," says Lesser.

Metavari play the Firehouse Theater, 1245 East State Street, on August 17th. Doors open at 8:30 p.m. and the show begins at 9:00 p.m. Cover is $3 and The Assemblage (Prague) and Darkroom (Warsaw) will also be on the bill. Metavari are pleased to announce they will be selling t-shirts at this performance.

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