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New blood (continued)

As Kenney tells it, "Meeting Mark is kind of a crazy story. Jesse and I were at the Other Side Café writing lyrics for the song ‘The Art’ when we noticed [former Nirvana bassist] Krist Novoselic sitting there with another guy. One of our friends was working there, so he was playing our demo over the PA. And I saw Krist’s foot start to tap. So I said, ‘Oh shit, he kind of likes us.’ So I went up to him and told him that we were playing at the Middle East the following night. And he was like, ‘This is your band?! This is awesome. We’ve been trying to figure out who this is.’ So we hung out and talked for a while. And the guy who was with him was Mark Kates. So we gave Krist a CD, he burned a copy for Mark, and then Mark started coming to all of our shows for like six months before he decided to release the demo on his label."

Since Freivald was still in school and the rest of the guys were just finishing, it made sense for the band to take measured steps at first. But they’ve now already made two trips to England and been warmly received. And with Radios Burn Faster eliciting the kind of organic underground buzz reserved for bands who have their heart — and their art — in the right place, Read Yellow are just plain eager to get out on the road and prove that they’re every bit as potent as the album suggests.

TWO YEARS AGO, when Read Yellow were making their first incursions into Boston, they ran into and became fast friends with Ryan Shanahan, a guitarist who was then taking his first tentative steps toward becoming the singing/songwriting/guitar-playing frontman for Lock and Key. Shanahan walked away with what would become Read Yellow’s Fenway EP and went back to working out his own thing. Last month, Lock and Key did Read Yellow the favor of being a last-minute fill-in opener at the Radios Burn Faster CD-release show, just a month after No Fate, a seven-song EP they’d recorded as a demo of sorts, had been released on the North Carolina indie Deep Elm. Like Read Yellow, Lock and Key are just breaking free of their college commitments: Shanahan and guitarist Mike Vera just graduated, from Emerson and Northeastern respectively. And in hooking up with Deep Elm, an indie that’s forged an identity for itself over the past seven years by releasing a 10-volume series of compilations under the Emo Diaries banner, the band have been blessed with some of the same good fortune that’s helped get Read Yellow started.

"We just sent Deep Elm a demo," Vera explains on break from recording Lock and Key’s debut full length (due this fall on Deep Elm) at New Alliance studio. "It was actually the full EP, but it had only been put out locally on our friend’s label, Irresponsible Records."

"Yeah, we sent it out to a bunch of labels and Deep Elm responded," Shanahan continues. "We were just starting out, so we were really surprised. We were looking at punk-rock indie labels, like 30 or 40 of them. We heard back from three or four of them. And two or three were really interested. That was a big compliment for us."

With its hammering drums, buzzing, wall-of-melody guitars, and raw-throated, soul-searching vocals, No Fate is a perfect fit for the Deep Elm roster (the first Emo Diaries featured tracks by Jimmy Eat World, Samiam, and Jejune, to name three bands who helped catalyze the re-emergence of emocore). "I never meant to hurt you/So delicate, so innocent, so sweet/Now I’m dealing with the guilt/The consequences of our independence game," Shanahan seethes in "Independence Game," one of several tracks on No Fate that he confirms were inspired by a relationship gone bad. "I get a lot of shit for that. I did break up with a girl, and that inspired some of those songs. It’s like three out of the seven. But everyone’s convinced that all seven are written about this one person."

He says the bloodletting continues in the material the band are now recording, even as their music is branching out a bit. But he’s not put off by the emo tag that’s come along with the Deep Elm association. "It’s funny, but I don’t think anyone even thought the emo word out there until Deep Elm was involved. So I don’t really give a shit if someone says we’re emo. There’s good emo and there’s good hardcore, but I wouldn’t call us either one. The phrase I’ve been trying to use is post-hardcore. I just think that if you think of what it literally means, it holds some truth: we’re a bunch of kids who grew up on hardcore and are now doing their own thing."

Read Yellow open for Secret Machines this Tuesday, June 8, at T.T. the Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline Street in Central Square; call (617) 492-BEAR.

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Issue Date: June 4 - 10, 2004
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