Lexington-based band makes music with noise

Since 2006, the band Noisycrane has provided Lexington with a healthy dose of freaky folk. Combining acoustic rock with weirdo aesthetics, varied instrumentation and dirge-like balladry, the group has filled local clubs and basements with music that is intriguing, compelling, challenging and, well, noisy. Two members, singer and multi-instrumentalist Cody Swanson and drummer Sean Rose (a Kernel managing editor), took the time to answer a few of my questions.

Q: How did Noisycrane start?

Cody: I started using the name Noisycrane for a solo project I started my senior year of high school. I played either acoustic or with a looping pedal used for drum or guitar parts I had recorded at home. The band Noisycrane started in December 2006. I already had known Sean Rose for a while but had just learned he played drums, so I asked if he would want to come to my house and jam a bit.

Sean: Originally, I think he just wanted to see what having drums on his live stuff would be like. We both liked his songs with drums backing them so we kept playing together and decided I was in the “band,” or whatever it was we had going.

Q: Tell me about Noisycrane’s sound. I hear a lot of Neutral Milk Hotel in there, but there are clearly other influences as well. What do you want your music to sound like?

Cody: Yeah, I’m very influenced by Neutral Milk Hotel, which can be good and bad. It’s bad when I find myself trying hard not to sound like them because no one, including myself, enjoys a less hip remake. I think what I get from Jeff Mangum and his band is how to make music that can sound raw and have more power of emotion because of it. The singing’s not always perfect, and no one in the band was a truly classical and technical musician, but they all kind of made something that people can feel. That’s what I want to do: make music that has a heart-wrenching feeling behind it, and maybe is a little catchy too.

Sean: As a band I think we have an appreciation for folk music and are probably more rock musicians at the end of the day. So any concoction of folk and rock ‘n’ roll that’s not cliché, or a typical “folk-rock” sound, would be what we’re after. We have lighter folk songs, and we have songs where we want to melt people’s faces off.

Q: Noisycrane has played as a band with various numbers of musicians. What was the progression in terms of band members, and what do you envision as the end result? Do you want Noisycrane to end up as a duo? A three-piece? An amorphous collective?

Sean: As long as we have a core center to the band like we do now, that’s all we really need. When push comes to shove and we can do a lot with what we have, we all know a couple instruments decently well, so that helps.

Cody: Yeah, an amorphous collective would be my dream. When Austin (Tharpe) joined, it really felt like we had real songs going. Jacob Gahn joined the band for about a month during the 2007 spring semester before he left for New York, and he was able to play these parts I had written on melodica or trumpet or play bass and let Austin play an electric lead and then all sorts of things could happen. For our (CD) release show at the Icehouse, we wanted to play the whole record from start to finish, so we enlisted the help of about seven or so friends to join us on various instruments, and it was a blast. It was the most chaotic show I’ve ever been in, but it was really fun too. Now, we usually play as a three-piece again. In the future, I would love to have something where friends and band mates can fluctuate for live performances, and I try to write songs that can accommodate either 10 people, or maybe just me on guitar.

Q: You released your first full-length album in October. What was the recording like?

Cody: Recording was stressful and really fun at the same time. It was a small operation taking place in two bedrooms and on basically no budget. When things started coming together, though, it was amazing.

Sean: Recording the drums was kind of interesting because we had a guitar track of the songs I could play to, but they weren’t in tempo. So instead, Cody played guitar out in the hallway with the door shut, while I listened to his playing on headphones and laid down the drums. It was actually a pretty effective system for us. “Smooth and Calm” was the only really hard song to record. It’s over seven or eight minutes long and following along to that without lyrics was hard. I felt like I had a baby after we were done with that.

Noisycrane is in the process of recording a new album. They will perform at the Icehouse, which is located at 412 Cross St., on Feb. 26 with national artist Baby Dee and Lexington group Attempt.

John Crowell is a journalism senior and public relations director of WRFL. E-mail [email protected]