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Low Skies

| February 28, 2006

Low Skies
Democracy In Action

Chicago’s Low Skies aren’t in line to win any Kid’s Choice awards, nor will they ever with the musical path they’ve chosen. Swirling around Chris Salveter’s tangled-in-the-sheets headgames, the new All The Love I Could Find (Flameshovel) skulks like a fog, limiting vision to a sea of minute reflections forlornly repressing pathologies too shocking to acknowledge. Or at least when Salveter has the microphone.

But on a raw, January evening at The Hideout, Salveter is nowhere to be found. At least, not without a machete and a good grasp of Southeast Asian dialects. He left for vacation with two friends and entrusted his bandmates, brothers Jacob and Brandon Ross, and drummer Jason Creps, with the keys to the house.

“He’s looking for a studio for us to record in, in Vietnam or Laos, just touring around Indochina,” Jacob jokes before turning deadly serious: “Finally we can tell it like it is.”
In reality, the three have been enjoying lives as equals in Low Skies, agreeing their last two releases (Love and the I Have Been To Beautiful Places EP) are band projects and not the orchestrations of some prima donna frontman.

According to co-founding drummer Creps, Salveter is the glue, after all “It was his baby in the beginning. They were his songs he’d written by himself and he was looking for people. He wanted to form this band so he kept recruiting and filling out the band, until it finally jelled into a cohesive band and had a life of its own. But he’s not domineering.”

Creps and Salveter tapped into the local scene with their first label offering, The Bed, in 2003, ushering in an extremely tense indie rock record that capitalized on a nearly palpable mood. Salveter’s songs cascaded with his (Tim or Jeff) Buckley-esque howl, throwing the songs into a sexually charged blur of pouts, stabs, tears, and embraces. Aside from Creps, however, the band never fully learned the material until the guitar and bass positions were shaken out, and stabilized with the Rosses.

“I joined the tour for The Bed,” Jacob recalls, “and it was pretty much when we came back from that tour we had the five songs for the EP.”

“The music changed,” Creps adds, “and it has to do with the people in the band more so than making a conscious decision, like, ‘O.K., we’re gonna go in this direction now.’ When we did the EP, Brandon was in the band and Jacob was in the band, and I feel like we were just learning how to write together as that unit. And then the new record, I feel like we really honed in on how to write together and how to be a band. I feel it’s a much more cohesive record. Pretty much everything we play from The Bed is different [now].”

Low Skies created a situation where rehearsal is almost counterintuitive, unless it’s meant to jostle a difficult idea into a song they can use.

“A good example of that,” Creps believes, “is ‘To Fail You’ on the new record. It’s an older song we had written a long time ago and we just shelved it because it wasn’t right. We recorded a version of it for The Bed and left it off the album because it was louder and faster — we just hadn’t figured it out. When we were working on getting songs together for this record, we decided to go back to it.”

“We even tried playing it the old way,” Brandon Ross remembers, “and we couldn’t make it work.”

“Or,” Jacob adds, “we just approached it with that similar kind of agenda. We even kind of shelved it again but resurrected it and we just approached it completely differently.”
“It became a completely different song,” says Creps. “The beat changed and we finally found the music for the lyrics. Whereas they weren’t working in it before. Whatever we’re doing now as a band, we figured it out for that song.”

Steve Forstneger

Appearing: 3/24 at The Hideout (1354 W. Wabansia) in Chicago.

To learn more about what began to work for Low Skies, pick up the March issue of Illinois Entertainer.

Category: Features, Monthly

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