November 4, 2004
BREATHER RESIST: PUNK STAMINA
Punk rock seems immune to market forces when it comes to concerts. Most punk bands price their shows considerably lower than their alternative rock counterparts. Even when someone like Morrissey charges $35 for a show--about $25 less than the average cost of a concert ticket this year--it's still considered an outrage by those who live by the Ian MacKaye philosophy of tour economics.
"That's the great thing about punk rock," says Evan Patterson of the Louisville, Ky., quartet Breather Resist. "You can go to shows for a reasonable amount money, and whether it's good or bad, you get your money's worth."
Patterson knows a thing or two about gigs. His two-year-old band tours relentlessly, sometimes playing almost two weeks without a day off and canceling shows only when it's absolutely imperative. It stays focused while on the road, often sticking to the same set list throughout a tour leg, and withholding from writing and recording until it returns home. And he's been attending shows since the fifth grade.
"When I was 11, I saw my first show," says Patterson. "I saw the light and walked toward it. It's always been what I want to do. I played guitar when I was 15. When I started going to shows, they were bad, but every month or so, there would be one really great show. That really influenced me and kept me wholeheartedly into it."
You can imagine Breather Resist having the same effect on some punk rock newbie. Its music--a distinctive interpretation of hardcore, laced with punk and metal--is passionately delivered. It conveys particular moods and attitudes, without falling into self-pity or over-the-top rage. And while the songs themselves sometimes meander, often subverting conventional structures and rhythms several times within the same track, its lyrical narrative is largely straightforward. Singer Steven Sindoni shrieks and screeches equal vehemence toward enemies and lovers, untrustworthy strangers and family members--the kind of stuff usually screamed back by the stage-storming youngsters at the shows.
Much of this--sans the mosh pit--can be experienced on the band's recently released debut full-length, Charmer. Produced by venerable hardcore figure Kurt Ballou, who plays guitar for Converge and has worked with underground faves Cave In and Vegas act Curl Up and Die, the album espouses a chaos where new chord progressions and time signatures are never seen coming, though carefully arranged by the band and Ballou. This reflects the spontaneity the band seemed to embrace in rehearsals and the recording studio; even the musicians were surprised with the results once the record was completed.
"We didn't set out to write a song with 11 songs that sound like this," says Patterson. "Some of my favorite songs on the album we wrote in one or two practices. When we started out, we wanted to be technical, and I think that will always be there. But, not to sound cheesy, it was more an organic approach to writing music. That really shines through with the record. There's no tension of the songs. We never write songs to please [someone]. That never crosses my mind."
Nor does the style of the music. Breather Resist may thrive among the hardcore community, but the association isn't necessarily premeditated. This is where comparisons to nonconformist '90s alt-rock act Jesus Lizard make sense.
"I think our band has a lot more to offer, as opposed to just being noisy or a heavy band," he says. "With [Charmer], it started to touch more on the side of that kind of music, which is always been an influence. I've been in lots of bands, and certain people play certain music together. I think whatever music we wanted to play, we could incorporate it into this band. Who know what songs we'll have for the next record, or what sound we'll have."
Las Vegas Mercury
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