January 19, 2012

Making Noise: Straight from a dorm room comes sound of Wry Climate

You might say Wry Climate is a bit into the weather, from the band name and its CD “Bridge Ice” to songs that talk about winter, coldness and snow.

Wry Climate is a local band fronted by University of Southern Maine sophomore Dan Nelson -- the band recorded its new CD, "Bridge Ice," in his dorm room. GO caught up with Nelson for a chat.

click image to enlarge

Wry Climate

Courtesy photo

WHAT'S ON DAN NELSON'S iPOD

"Strange Mercy," St. Vincent

"The Way It Will Be," Gillian Welch

"Sarah 5646766 (live)," Grandaddy

"Modern Aquatic Nightsongs,"

Atlas Sound

"I Ain't Got No Home," Woody Guthrie

"Running, Returning," Akron/Family

"Junkie's Promise," Sonic Youth

"The Diver," Victoire

"In New Orleans," Leadbelly

"Green Isles," Real Estate

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

What's the best place for people to learn about and listen to the band? Is it the wryclimate.tumblr.com site or another one?

The Tumblr site is definitely a good starting point for people looking to check out the band. It's got links to the Wry Climate Bandcamp, Facebook and Soundcloud pages. I've been gradually making a post about each song from the album over the last couple months; those posts can be found on the Wry Climate Tumblr too.

Where can people purchase a copy of "Bridge Ice"?

Wryclimate.bandcamp.com is the place to go for the album. It's in the "name your price" format, so you have no excuses for not downloading it!

How did you come up with the band name Wry Climate?

A lot of the songs on the record talk about winter, coldness, snow, etc., so I wanted to evoke the weather in the name. I like the rhyme of "wry" and the first syllable of the word "climate." It's sort of a play on "dry climate," since the word "wry" means a "dry sense of humor."

What bands/artists have influenced you as a musician?

The first tunes I ever played on guitar back when I was 10 or 11 were Beatles and Dylan songs, and their albums are definitely still among my all-time favorites. During middle school, my interests really moved in more folk and blues directions.

I was listening to a lot of Woody Guthrie, Mississippi John Hurt, Clarence "Tom" Ashley, Bessie Smith, The Carter Family, people like that. I started playing banjo around that time too.

In high school, I started writing a lot of my own songs, playing electric guitar and doing more indie rock. I was leading a band called 9th Rail at the time, and our sound was based heavily on the music I was listening to during that period. Around then, I had gotten into a lot of late-'80s and '90s bands like Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, The Pixies, Built to Spill and Sonic Youth.

So how did Wry Climate come to be?

When I decided to start writing and recording again after I started college, I was sort of trying to draw on all my earlier influences as I was creating new material. The music I ended up listening to over the course of the recording of "Bridge Ice" includes "Hospice" by The Antlers, everything ever recorded by Grandaddy and Jason Lytle, a collection of demos by my friend Yona Davidson, and tons of Dylan. I was taking a fantastic class taught by Rick Abrams about Bob Dylan and his roots.

What's your favorite part about performing live?

I've done a lot of shows as a solo singer/guitarist, and also many with full bands. While playing as a solo artist has some advantages, like less equipment to lug in and out of the venue, and not having to split up pay with other people, what I really love about playing live is working with other musicians and being able to produce a sound comparable in depth to what I'm able to do in the studio. 

Do you have a favorite song on "Bridge Ice," and if so, why?

I can't say I have one specific favorite; I'd say my three favorites are "Genius Card," "Pre-Dawn Storm" and "Car Radio." They all seemed doomed at one point or another, and I recorded several different versions of each of them. When all was said and done, though, I really liked the lyrics I came up with for them, and I was especially happy with the acoustic/electric guitar counterpoint heard in the verses of "Pre-Dawn" and the atmospheric drones and real-world samples in "Genius Card." 

Have you ever considered doing any instrumental music?

I have done some instrumental music ranging from traditional clawhammer banjo numbers to attempts at classical compositions for music theory classes, to college jazz combos, to Sonic Youth-inspired electric guitar improvisations.

But I really like singing, and I've been working a lot over the last few years to improve as a vocalist, so it's a safe bet that most future releases and performances will feature my singing.

Staff Writer Aimsel Ponti can be contacted at 791-6455 or at:

aponti@pressherald.com

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