February 14, 2013

Making Noise: Mystic Folk Opera enjoying its flair for the dramatic

Vocalist/guitarist Kristin DiCara talks about the band's history and the inspiration for the new album.

By Aimsel Ponti aponti@pressherald.com
News Assistant

Mystic Folk Opera is all about a soulful and bluesy kind of rock sound. The band comprises lead vocalist/guitarist Kristin DiCara (who writes CD reviews for GO as Kristin DiCara-McClellan), bassist Bob Mills, guitarist/vocalist Cheeks, vocalist Elisha Frank and drummer Rich Cantz.

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Mystic Folk Opera is vocalist/guitarist Kristin DiCara, top left, bassist Bob Mills, guitarist/vocalist Cheeks, vocalist Elisha Frank and drummer Rich Cantz.

Courtesy photo


"Do You Fear Sleep," The Moscow Coup Attempt

"Sleeping City," The Parlour Steps

"Into the Fade," Queens of the Stone Age

"Home," Zero 7

"Nice to Know You," Incubus

"Lay Me Down," The Swell Season

"Hospital's on Fire," Sidecar Radio

"What Would It Be Like," Sara Hallie Richardson

"Bleed to Love Her," Fleetwood Mac

"Satellites," Doves

TURN YOUR RADIO DIAL to 102.9 WBLM every Friday at 8:30 a.m. to hear Aimsel Ponti wax poetic about her top live music picks for the week with the Captain and Celeste.

You can find the band's latest CD, "A Book of Painted Sighs," at Bull Moose Music, CD Baby and iTunes. Keep up on the latest MFO news on Facebook, Reverbnation and Bandcamp.

GO recently caught up with DiCara for the skinny on the band's history and the inspiration for the new record.

Over what period of time were the songs written?

Each CD we've released contains material written over a wide span of time ranging anywhere from mere moments before we recorded it to over a decade at this point. There's a bit of an ongoing dialogue between Cheeks and I involved, and an evolution of circumstance and feeling that we're trying to convey, which can only really be told like a movie that jumps through time.

What would you say are some of the themes of the album?

I'd have to say it's mostly a narration of those moments that come immediately after some big failure. In essence, it repeats the question: Where do you go when the worst happens? Especially if it frees you up from some unrealistic expectation you may have had of yourself or others. I think the very last line of the CD sums it up well: "The more you know the less you understand. If I'm gonna be damned, I'm gonna be damned for who I am."

When did Mystic Folk Opera begin?

We were a duo when we started MFO three years ago. But Cheeks and I have been in musical projects together on and off for the last 16 years.

What are some of the sources of inspiration for your music?

Just trying to connect. I know that's vague and probably somewhat cliche, but it's totally true. It's kinda like when you were a kid and you ran and fell and scraped your knee really bad and you screamed for your mommy. That's what we are doing today; we are venting (screaming) all about life's various "owies" and hoping that someone will hear us, understand and sit with us a moment to listen. Then we can hang out over a beer, cosmically commiserate and solve the world's problems together.

On a more practical note, our one rule as a band is "we will try it," and that means the whole gamut of human emotion is allowed into the party. Music for us is all about what we're feeling at any given moment. A lot of the time, Cheeks will roll out the guitar part first. Other times, it's just a wordless melody I may have. A lot of the time, the words come out and they make absolutely no sense to us whatsoever. We sing it anyway. It doesn't matter when it's pure instinct involved.

We almost invariably find that they get clearer to us, in terms of meaning, by the time we're finished. Bob, Rich and Elisha are especially great reflective surfaces as musicians too. They always manage to dial in the level of intensity just right, and that allows us to pour energy right back into the vibe we're coaxing along. It's like having a really good heart-to-heart with an honest friend.

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