Beginning today, we’ll be offering up profiles of the bands taking part in The Lo-Down’s CMJ Showcase, which is coming to Fontana’s on Tuesday evening. First up — Less The Band, which started off as a fictional group in prolific playwright Adam Rapp’s, “Finer Noble Gases” (2004).
The actors – Paul Sparks, Rob Beitzel, Ray Rizzo and Michael Chernus – and Rapp stepped off stage and created a real-life band that has produced two albums, played at several downtown clubs, toured worldwide and opened for groups such as “My Morning Jacket.” Beitzel told us:
The play was cast with actors who were also musicians, and professional musicians who were also actors. Over the course of rehearsal and the run of the play at Rattlestick Playwrights’ Theater, the band practiced and wrote songs and we discovered there was a palpable spark in the room when all five of us, including the playwright, picked up our instruments. So we played our first rock shows at that time at Arlene’s Grocery, Piano’s, and Sine. The response was so enthusiastic that the band endeavored on after the play had closed.
In 2008, New York Press noted, “these guys have the easy rapport of successful collaborators.” Beitzel said Less dispenses with the typical “frontman” formula:
We had discovered rather quickly that the creative voices and musical influences of each of our members were quite strong and came from a broad spectrum. Rather than silence any in favor of one we elected to harness the power of that collision and began experimenting with ways to facilitate it. You’ll notice the band’s stage set-up is one of these methods. It’s basically inverted. There is no singular frontman for an entire set, and as we’ve further refined our process there is no frontman for an entire song.
Beitzel describes the music as “fun and mythical,” yet unpredictable. Less The Band mixes driving Indie-pop with a “hammering dystopian wall-of-sound.” Just as you’ve been “lulled into a state of bliss,” he said, “we slap you hard and spit in your face.”