Lab Partners - Interview:
Sponic Zine Interview

6/23/2001 Issue 6
At Their Own Pace (Dayton's Lab Partners)
By Chris Wright

The Lab Partners seem unwilling participants of some experiments at the local diner. On one occasion, singer Mike Smith was served fish and chips - with the fish served so rare it was still frozen... During another outing he dabbled with the 'Monte Cristo deep-fried turkey
sandwich donut thing' - which looked damn delicious at the time, but had its consumer thinking second thoughts only moments later. In between these culinary adventures-gone-wrong, the Lab Partners take time to write and perform. Birthed in the petri dish that is the Dayton music scene, its members have seen music careers spanning the last 10 years -
in bands such as 10 O'Clock Scholar, Honeyburn, Mink, Let's Crash, and others.
For this, their first Sponic interview, we bid adieu to the placebo, throw out the control group, and put a rest to anything resembling scientific method.

Sponic: When did you get started?

Mike: 1998... we played for about a year without a drummer, until Matt Schultz (Enon, Let's Crash) came along.

Amy: Matt Schultz came to a show at Sudsy Malone's and really liked us. He started rehearsing the material - he knew all the songs before he was even in the band.

That rips!

Amy: I think he somehow recorded us live, and then took it home and learned how to play it.

Mike: We played with him until he joined Enon, and that obviously took a lot of his time.

Amy: That was like, December.

Mike: We had a bunch of shows scheduled.

Amy: He didn't really want to leave us.

Mike: I had to tell him 'No more', because he really didn't want to say... that he wanted to quit.

So really, your material didn't change much once you got a drummer involved in the band? You had already solidified your concepts?

Mike & Amy: Yeah. Right.

So other than Matt & your new(er) drummer, Ian Kaplan, the lineup hasn't really changed since the beginning?

Mike: Yes.

The band also includes Kevin Parret, with the guitar-music-sounds-er-glavin?

Mike: Yeah, you might remember him from Dayton faves 10 O'Clock Scholar.

Yes, one of a handful of locals signed to the ill-fated Grass records. If we could turn things to the present and future, though; tell me about your newest project. You're recording locally at a new studio?

Mike: We've been working with Dennis Mullins (Ultravega) at... it's called Bison Studios. He's been really good to us so far.

What's the new CD going to be called?

Mike: Well, we have a working title based on one of the songs - "Daystar," but...

Amy: We hadn't agreed on that.

Mike: Kevin and I had talked about it. He said yes to it, Ian...

Ian: I missed that.

Amy: They talked about it... probably Ian was on Oxycontin and missed the whole thing.

Ian: I was asleep.

"Note to self: strike all references to Oxycontin from the interview."

Amy: Yes, do that. I keep forgetting we're on tape...

Let it be noted that Ian takes assorted drugs for purely medical reasons. (Editor's note: This might be a good place to point out a few of Ian's health issues and recent developments. Ian is horribly diabetic, and had his liver replaced two years ago with half of his dad's. After suffering a violent seizure earlier this year, he damaged his back and collar and was forced to wear a back-brace until just this month. He recently had a colonostoscoptomy.)

There is further joking about some of Ian's pain medication and possible tie-ins to the new album title, then we get back to the interview. You guys used to be a bit sleepier - more of a moody thing, but lately you've gotten more dynamic, a bit rougher, not in the performance sense, but as far as volume and the role of the guitars.

Mike: It's got more of a... there's more song structure now. Less droning... more than just two chords.

I would say it's a bit of a harder edge.

Amy: God. Don't make us out to sound like Exodus or something.

(I'm a bit baffled at this point by the obscurity of this reference to typical indie-rockers, but hey, I got it...)

You've submitted a track to SPONIC which should be found in this issue's Media section, right?

Mike: Yes, the track is a demo version of the song "Magnify."

That one really moves along. It gets loud right where it seems like it should get loud. I love that you guys are paying attention to the dynamic element. It sounds pretty amazing for a demo too.

Mike: Thanks.

Song lengths? Same as always? Shorter, longer?

Mike: It's always been the same.

Any epics?

Amy: (laughing) Ha, anything epic?

Mike: There's actually a couple of 'epics.' There's uh, two slow songs, I think, on the album, and there's...

Amy: There's one that we feel as if it's really short, (laughing) but then when we play it back, it's like... (laughing) It seems like it's only like four minutes long, but then when we play it back... it's like "hey, that's at the fifteen minute mark! What!?" But it's like a big,
three-part thing.

Mike: Yeah, like a trilogy.

So I can describe it as "songs you lose yourself listening to"?

Mike: We've got a couple 'radio-length' songs on there, but nothing's planned out as something to be packaged and sold to the public, right?

Let's talk more about Ian being in the band. Did you record with him on the last recordings, or is this your first time in the studio with him?

Mike: We've recorded with Ian on the new album.

But the previous...

Mike: We were thinking of doing some more stuff at home on the four-track.

Can we back-track a minute and go over the discography?

Mike: The first one is self-titled - an E.P., and the second, also an E.P. titled 'Turn it On.' We just burned those at home. Those both have Matt Schultz on drums.

And you've also been featured on a comp?

Mike: Oh, yeah, that Cincinnati thing - the "Our Music" compilation.

So, have you moved... quantities of those earlier CDs?

Mike: Over a time... I mean, every show we move a handful of them. Certain areas, where they're familiar with us... like, Columbus, we sell everything we have.

Amy: We haven't really treated those early EPs the same way we're treating this new full-length.

But it's good, because you aren't in debt for thousands of CDs that are all sitting around in boxes somewhere. You're trying to do it smart.

Amy: Yeah, its not like we're seeking distribution for the early stuff.

So other than the demos, this is your first "outing" with Ian?

Mike: Yeah, we got a call from Dennis, he liked our stuff, and he basically called us up and made us a ridiculous deal to record there. We couldn't pass it up. And it's turned out really really good.

He just got the studio set up right? So he's giving it a shakedown, but giving you a sweet deal.

Mike: Yeah, and we've been nothing but happy about it.

Okay, what else have we got... you've got a high profile gig coming up at Gilly's with The Igniters... and also with U.S. Maple around the end of the month.

Amy: Yes, we've managed to get a couple good things happening over the next month or so.

I wanted to ask you guys what you've been listening to, but you've expressed a desire not to make the usual band comparisons.

Amy: No. Don't use other bands to describe us please. (laughing)

Ian: So I can't even say another band's name?

Amy: (snickering) No.

Ian: If this couch had a sound...

I smell a title!

Ian: The new stuff - I think it sounds... well, the only difference between...

Mike: The CDs that you heard before?

Ian: ...other than the decibel level, just the overall thematic aspects of it.

Mike: More dynamic.

Amy: (laughing) Not thematic in a Tommy kind of way...

Are you guys playing out of town at all, or trying to work things regionally at all?

Mike: Our booking strategy is bad.

Ian: I'd like to go off the record and say that (xxxxxxxxx) contact in (xxxxxxxxxx) has not replied to about 5 emails I've sent him regarding a show there.

Mike: I think when I call people my voice is somehow inaudible to people's ears. Or that when I email them they seem to receive a blank message or something. Because everytime I try to set something up...

Ian: We might get a show in Boston.

Mike: Yeah, we've played Detroit a couple times--Lexington, Kentucky. We're a band that basically works at our own pace. Amy was in school, and just got out and got a kick-ass job. I just graduated from college last week and got a new job. It's not like we're stopping everything we do in life to pursue music. We're just working at our own pace.

The Lab Partners website features plenty of photos and downloadable tracks from their earlier EPs. It can be visited at: