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A Decent Animal (literally) get arty

click to enlarge (L to R): Richard Weld, George Baerreis, and Jonathan Nicholson ... animals all
  • (L to R): Richard Weld, George Baerreis, and Jonathan Nicholson ... animals all
A Decent Animal A Decent Animal
w/ Pyramid, Clint4
Sat. April 1
9 p.m.
$10 ($15 includes a new CD)
Cumberland's
301 King St.
577-9469
www.cumberlands.net

In a grand display of visual and aural expression, Charleston trio A Decent Animal celebrate the release of their six-song mini-album, The Rabbit Hole EP, this week with a multi-media art show/concert at Cumberland's.

"We're covering the walls on the day of the show," says Richard Weld, guitarist and bassist. "Clint4 will sort of provide the background sounds for the opening and throughout the evening, along with music from Pyramid and us. The idea is to have about 10 new pieces of work from various local and regional artists that were all 'inspired' by the music on the CD. There's also a tap dancer and a few other treats."

Among the featured artists are Kevin Taylor, Chris Wyrick, Fumiha, Seth Cort, Adrienne Antonson, Julio Cotto, Johnny Pundt, and Kelly Brat — all of whom contributed paintings and drawings "inspired" by the music on the disc.

Weld and singer/guitarist Jonathan Nicholson — both longtime bandmates in local post-punk rock band Telegram — only recently solidified their current band's lineup with the addition of drummer George Baerreis (formerly with Matter and the Georgia-based band Bain Mattox). All three musicians have always been original, uncompromising, and highly regarded in local critic circles. They all look forward to performing as a unit and sharing the stage with like-minded musical artists this weekend.

Charlotte-based ensemble Pyramid formed in N.C. eight years back with the idea of creating a unique atmosphere within a familiar acoustic pop setting. Singer-guitarists Joey Stephens and Ben Best, string player Ben Kennedy, horn player and keyboardist Kris Baucom, horn player Brent Bagwell, bassist Tyler Baum, drummer Chris Walldorf, and accordion player and trombonist Ryan Blaine recently released their debut album, The First American, and scored the film The Foot Fist Way, directed by Jody Hill, which premiered at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival in January.

"Pyramid are truly amazing," says Weld. "I hope folks will come out, show support for us, and show Pyramid some nice Charleston love."

Pyramid's drummer Chris Walldorf is a self-trained sound engineer who began building a custom-made studio at his home in Charlotte a few years ago. He now calls the facility Sioux Sioux Studio (ha!). While Walldorf doesn't work as a full-time engineer at the studio, he does get to pick and choose his sessions — one of which was A Decent Animal.

"Richard and Jonathan had done some recording already, but weren't quite happy with the sounds as a duo," says Walldorf of his session with A Decent Animal. "They asked me to play drums and I thought it was going to be a low-key, brushes type thing. As we worked on the tunes, it evolved into a full drum kit situation."

Weld and Nicholson only recently solidified their current band's lineup with the addition of Baerreis. It's a bold move ahead toward a fuller, more textured sound ... and it's not necessarily a "rock" sound, either.

Last spring, Telegram (Nicholson, Weld, singer-guitarist Eric Brantley, and drummer Mike Besta) released a five-song, self-titled EP recorded at Babylemonade Studios. It marked the beginning of a hiatus for the band, during which Weld took a paternity leave from his rock duties when he and his wife Amanda welcomed the arrival of their son Henry (the toddler is featured on the band's web page as a "decent animal, himself"). The hiatus also marked the semi-official launch of A Decent Animal.

"When we started, it was mainly songs that were real simple," says Weld. "We started doing the songs that Telegram probably would do — songs with more vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar parts. Really quiet, laid-back stuff. As we played and started to feel like a real band, we filled it out a little bit by bringing the electric bass in and more. We started considering recording with horns and organ and other instruments. Now, we have new songs that are ready to record that sound totally different from what we did a year ago. It's different from anything Jonathan or I have ever done musically."

The trio pressed 360 copies of The Rabbit Hole EP with the hopes of getting some exposure and connections. They'll be available at the show, at Monster, and at 52.5 Records this week. Curious locals can grab an inexpensive copy at the Cumberland's show as part of the ticket price ($15 gets a disc and admittance).

A Decent Animal also perform outside of Max Jerome at 45 John St. during the designer shop's "sidewalk sale" on Thurs. March 30 at 5 p.m.


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