Lab Partners - Interview:
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
Sponic: When did you get started?
Mike & Amy: Yeah. Right.
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
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.
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
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...)
a track to SPONIC which should be found in this issue's Media section,
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.
Same as always? Shorter, longer?
Mike: It's always
been the same.
Ha, anything epic?
Mike: There's actually
a couple of 'epics.' There's uh, two slow songs, I think, on the album,
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,
Mike: Yeah, like
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
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
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
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?
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.
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: http://www.labpartners.net