Dead Lie Golden
Stencil, a five-piece orchestral-rock band, was formed in late 2003 as songwriter Jared Fiechtner left his duties in a Montana-based punk group and migrated back to his hometown of Seattle. Escaping the noise of punk rock and stripping down his musical focus to an acoustic guitar and voice, he drew on influences such as Elliott Smith and John Lennon, writing songs with simple vocal melodies wrapped around stark, haunting arrangements. Jared composed dozens of songs in this way, but eventually he sought to expand Stencil into a more traditional band. To do this he enlisted former band mate and music composition major Joseph Schultz on drums, as well as childhood friend Sean Anderson on bass. The band widened it's scope while still retaining Jared's passion for vulnerable melodies and minimalist song construction. After two years of writing music, recording demos, and playing shows as a trio, Stencil entered the studio in the spring of 2006 to record their debut album. Early 2007 saw the release of The Dead Lie Golden, a twelve song LP exploring a spectrum of musical emotions and exhibiting a broad dynamic scope in it's arrangements. Deriving inspiration from a host of other rock bands including Neutral Milk Hotel and The Flaming Lips, Stencil adapted their bare-bones approach to take on a more fully realized sound. Entwining lush strings, brass, and keyboards around it's original acoustic rock ingredients, The Dead Lie Golden explores life's moments of horror as well as the instinctive search for the sublime. Despite it's size, the album's complex mix of instruments yields an occasional return to the band's modest roots - Jared's melancholic voice smoothly sailing over the lonely chords of his acoustic guitar. It seems only fitting his lyrics waver from the intimate to the seemingly oblique, inviting the listener in with a glimpse of personal conflict only to lead them through vivid tales, rich in fictional imagery. As Jared's delicate voice coils through sweeping string arrangements and jangly guitar melodies, the listener gains a sense that The Dead Lie Golden is equal parts indie rock record and film score. After nearly a year of recording and mixing, Stencil emerged from the studio and expanded their lineup once again in order to bring their music to the stage. Employing electric guitarist Brad Martin and versatile keyboardist Glen Yoshioka, the band adapted the album's ample content with a mind for live performance. Combining acoustic with electric and electronic voices, the band's current five-piece form modifies the somber carnival of the album while integrating the primal energy of a rock show. Looking back at the development of Stencil, Jared's exercise in simplicity developed into a band more musically visceral and complex than the punk rock he sought to escape. Now with several shows lined up around the Pacific Northwest, the members of Stencil eagerly anticipate furthering their performance experience, branching out within the Northwest's thriving music scene, and writing for a follow up EP in the coming year.