RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Relaxin' at downtown's Bar 35, Linus The Band waits for drinks and inspiration. Singer-guitarist David Neely, left, stretches out on the couch, while keyboardist-guitarist Danmerle Capati peruses the bar's menu. Bassist Nik Daubert and drummer Stan Hardjadinata round out the quartet.
The tight-knit band has seen its songs evolve since the studio
One of the overlooked local indie rock releases from last November was "The Construction" from Linus The Band.
It's a captivating collection of tunes, mostly recorded beginning in late 2002 at the Highway Recording Studio in Hawaii Kai.
The band's drummer was Sandeep Rai, who has since moved to the mainland. With Stan Hardjadinata -- formerly with the local metal band Crucible -- now behind the drum kit, Linus The Band soldiers on with singer-guitarist David Neely, bassist Nik Daubert and keyboadist-guitarist Danmerle Capati.
This weekend marks a rare double-dose of appearances for the tight-knit band, first at The Big Bang Theory showcase Saturday night at rRed Elephant (see story on Page 6), then the following night at The Crud's Dead Presidents Party at Wave Waikiki, on a bill that includes Black Square, Missing Dave and MVA.
"The band grew musically during the time we recorded the CD," Neely said. "It's like our greatest hits of the past five years."
Daubert adds that about half the songs on "The Construction" are still active on their concert setlist. That includes the album opener "Sad to Say," one of Linus The Band's stronger, and catchier, songs from early in their career.
It's representative of the group's distinctive sound: Neely's beguiling vocal, coupled with his confessional lyrics, over an insistent rhythmic base that's pushed forward by Daubert's inventive bass playing, plus a well-place lyrical or melodic hook here and there. Capati helps keep things interesting sonically with electronic keyboard effects, and she's also starting to include a bit of guitar work, something she wants to add to Linus' overall sound.
This is smart music in terms of texture and construction, ranging from simple, stark arrangements to fuzzed-out noise. It's the Cars meets My Bloody Valentine, with an occasional nod to Radiohead.
But don't expect an exact replica of the CD in concert. "A lot of the songs have evolved since the record," Daubert said. "We've added new material that's more orchestrated and complicated, but still extremely tight."
"Since Stan has joined the band," said Neely, "we've been able to play certain beats, since he brings in more possibilities than your standard drummer. ... He also plays a mean guitar, so he's able to contrast what he's doing with the rhythm guitar."
Linus The Band is also back in the studio, with lyricist Neely sounding reenergized about his writing process. "I feel more open, not as repressed as before," he said. "I'm also more into the process of composing songs," using Adobe Audition software. "I feel I have more control over the actual songwriting process."
The band will also play on the mainland for the second time, the first being an eye-opening five-date summer tour through Delaware and New Jersey in '07. This time, it'll be a 10-day West Coast jaunt scheduled for late August through early September, that starts in the Pacific Northwest and may end up in San Jose, Calif.
"While shows here are always fun to do," Daubert said, "sometimes it's good to get in a car on the mainland, and just go."
But the band will not ignore its home base either. "We're resetting our sights on Hawaii," said Neely. "We're going to play here in a different way than in the past, less frantic and more focused."