Lab Partners - Interview:
Wright State University - Guardian

May 28, 2003

By Justin Ling

There's something rising from the rubble of the Dayton music scene. The celestially inspired spacerock band Lab Partners are coming off strong reviews from their third album Daystar and are ready to enter the ranks of Dayton's best.


There must be something in the water that allows for the emergence of exceptional bands from this small Midwestern city. Dayton is home to the unpretentious, straightforward rock of prominent indie veterans like Guided By Voices and Swearing at Motorists. Even some of the founders of indie rock such as Kim and Kelly Deal of The Breeders are a proud product of the Dayton area. And then there is the post-new wave punk rock of Brainiac and the clever electo-pop tunes of Enon that all came from this area.


Stemming from the creative influence of the early nineties shoegazing bands like My Bloody Valentine, Lab Partners use a fuzzy wall of guitar noise and complex drumming to drone out ornate riffs in what Mike Smith, guitarist/vocalist, describes as "spaced out melodic rock." Where they deviate is in their ability to blend that familiar sound with spacelike hums and trippy song structure for an ultimately dreamlike aural effect.


Lab Partners began in 1998. They formed when Smith hooked up with keyboardist Amy Smith, a Wright State graduate, gathered a couple other band members. After a few switches that included current Enon drummer Matt Shulz, the band had its line up that included to two Smiths, drummer Ian Kaplanand Mike Volk on guitar. The group released their self-titled debut in 1999, and one year later produced their sophomore effort called Turn It On and still doesn't have a bass player.


In the initial stages, the band developed their experimental songs into a format that would accommodate live performance and took to the stage. "We did a show in town once where Kevin and I used two amps each, running them in stereo and placing one on stage each and the other two behind the crowd," describes Mike. "Amy would play repetitive bass lines and keyboard drones while we bounced sound back and forth between the audience."

"We actually get a kick out of seeing how far we can take things and then taking it further," explains Mike. "That's really the attitude most bands should have: not caring the least for what other people think and just creating and doing what you want. Otherwise what's the point?"


Earlier this year, they released there third album called Daystar on Big Beef Records. Recorded in a Dayton studio called Bison Studios, it took around a year to complete. It was well worth the time and effort, however when great reviews from various publications started rolling in.


The critics were very impressed with their combination of stargazing and rock'n'roll attitudes. The success and quality of the album prompted a write up in the prominent alternative music magazine, SPIN Magazine this past Feb. In the "Bands to Watch" section, they were pointed out as "Epic, old-style dream pop, radioed in from the spaceways of Dayton, Ohio."


"Having something like that is really good to help you get better shows and more write-ups," notes Amy.
Lab Partner's next show will be a performance at Springfest in Columbus on June 7. The band is set to tour with Phaser in July, and is working on new songs. "We've got plenty of new songs we're writing at the moment," said Smith. "Trying to get a rough idea of the next record."