Two Shades Faded
It's an unusually warm fall evening in Columbus Ohio and SMR has just finished rehearsing. Elisa, the band's five foot tall bass player is trying to get the other two to decide whets for dinner. 'Pizza?' 'No.' 'Wings?' 'No.' It will take another fifteen minutes for the band to decide on leftover lasagna and one of those new Philly steak and cheese pizzas Drew has been wanting. This has been the ritual that SMR has followed for nearly three years; Sunday rehearsal and dinner at Drew and Elisa's house. It becomes apparent very quickly that this rock trio has made music-making somewhat of a family affair. Larry, the groups singer and guitarist points out that he and Drew have actually known each other much longer. 'We met when we were about seven or eight. Our parents were neighbors in this apartment complex on the [northwest] side of town. And we had our first band together.' Elisa joined the band a few years after she and Drew started dating. 'I was actually his boss, but I didn't like the idea of dating someone in my workplace. But one day he said that he had gotten another job and I was so excited and relieved. His last day, I asked him out.' That was more than five years ago and apparently breaking the 'dating in the workplace' rule hasn't made either of them any worse for the wear. Elisa however, is definitely the odd woman out when it comes to her music making background. In the nineties, she made a stab at the singer-songwriter market going so far as playing the South by Southwest Music conference in Austin. She toured and played for most of the mid-nineties playing very slickly produced pop songs, almost the antithesis of what SMR is about. '[Drew and Larry] are walking encyclopedias of classic rock,' she says. 'Larry will play something like the Grateful Dead and Drew almost always knows exactly the right drum part with all the accents and everything. I usually just stand there looking like an asshole. I'm getting better at the whole name that tune thing though.' When asked whether or not SMR is a jam band, two members of the group blurt out 'F*** No!' 'We're a rock band that loves a lot of different kinds of music. Drew and I are big fans of bands like Gov't Mule and the Who. Elisa loves artists like Neil Finn and Jonatha Brooke. I think it's those differences that make us who we are.' Live, Slow Motion Riot, are an explosive and melodic rock group, in the vein of classic power trios like Cream and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. There is a burly and aggressive feel to their sound. Larry has a three octave bullhorn for a singing voice. The band does a sexy and subversive version of Willie Dixon's classic 'I Can't Quit You' where Larry's voice glides between oily Robert Plant and the more sublime Muddy Waters. On their new album Two Shades Faded, the bands sonic antics are in full bloom. From the orchestral bombast of Gemini to the Southern gusto of Barfly Blues, SMR is very firmly rooted in classic rock and blues. The pizza hasn't arrived yet, so Larry and Elisa are sitting on the floor with acoustic guitars picking through Little Feat's beautiful classic 'All That You Dream.' Drew is on the phone with Mom telling her the new CDs are here. Elisa switches to accordion and plays a little tune into the phone. There is no mistaking the sense that this band is in fact a family.