[ rock/pop ]
To get started on Audible's second LP, Mike Kennedy first had to persuade his wife, Kristine, to let him rearrange some things in their Fishtown home. The big bedroom would become the studio; they'd move the bed to the small spare room. "Just for a few weeks," he'd said. Kris, also the band's bassist, relented. "Well, we slept in the tiny room for at least two years and only recently moved back," says Kennedy. What do they have to show for the room swap? A new album — the boldly beautiful, self-released In Simple Intervals — out now and, according to the ultrasound, twin boys due in September.
The follow-up to 2005's Sky Signal, put out by Polyvinyl, In Simple Intervals is an exercise in depth: lyrically, musically. It's a long way from the days when Audible was a four-track duo, singer-guitarist Kennedy and singer-keyboard player Mary Garito. Except it isn't. "At the core of it, it's still just Mary and I singing together," says Kennedy. "I think my songwriting has gotten a whole hell of a lot better, but my slightly odd sense of melody is still there. My fascination with sound and sonic layering is still there. I just have amazing musicians and an unlimited track count now."
The remaining Audible players (bassist Kris, guitarists Jim Kehoe and Ed Hogarty, and drummer Steve Cawley) turn those odd melodies into catchy, complicated music. Sometimes you'll hear something breathy and pristine, like Ida or Elliott Smith. Other times the guitar riffs lead you straight to danceable, charismatic rock 'n' roll. Kennedy's always dashing from practice to work at NFL Films to the doctor's office, but I managed to catch up with him over e-mail.
City Paper: You're actually best known around town as a drummer. Did you pick up any tips from Philly's frontmen?
Mike Kennedy: I've been very lucky to have been part of a lot of great bands with great songwriters: Brian Christinzio, Matt Pond, Quentin Stoltzfus, Matty Raisch. I always viewed all of these opportunities as apprenticeships. If you keep your ears open there behind the drums, you can learn a lot.
CP: A few songs on In Simple Intervals, like "Like A Code," are addressed to an unseen "you." Got a certain "you" in mind?
MK: Just a starting point to get the ball rolling for a song. Things usually get embellished or exaggerated as the lyrics develop. I'm not above altering the facts for the sake of a couplet. "Like A Code," however, is just pure fiction. I wanted to write a creepy song about jealousy and stalking because I've always loved those kinds of story songs.
CP: There's a lot of harmony here. I know most of you guys are friends going back years ...
MK: I've been in great bands where the emotional friction was so tense that it made it almost unbearable. I'm done with that. [Audible is] more of a family that happens to write and play music together. And we also drink beer together. And we have Phillies season tickets together. Sure, we'll argue and bicker, but it is really the most fun and easy musical situation I've ever been in.
CP: No label means no pressure to tour, but also nobody's out there selling you.
MK: This is where we are kind of hitting a brick wall. Sure, a promo company can help you get the word out, but there is no way I am paying someone $4,000 to e-mail bloggers for two months. So we'll do it DIY-style and see what shakes out.
CP: Will Kris be playing the album release show at Johnny Brenda's on Friday?
MK: Amazingly, yes. Her bass kind of sits funny on her belly and she may need a stool halfway through the set, but this woman can do anything.
CP: You ready to be a dad?
MK: I don't know if you're ever ready to switch from self-involved urbanite to father of two overnight. ... I very much am looking forward to meeting these guys. I can't wait. Of course, now I have to move my studio from the little room to the basement.
Fri., May 22, 9 p.m., $10, with BC Camplight and The Bye Byes, Johnny Brenda's, 1201 N. Frankford Ave., 866-468-7619, johnnybrendas.com. Download In Simple Intervals at music.audibleband.com.