The Laureates tell us there are no more gentlemen, least of all themselves. So why does their music make us feel like we’re headed to the "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance and they'll keep their damn hands off us? With tunes that make us snap along, this foursome puts audiences in a time machine with an early 60s-inspired sometimes punky, sometimes toe-tapping poppy, indie rock sound. Their album interweaves old school harmonized backup vocals and the practically forgotten end-of-song fadeaway, but like recycled fashion, these retro elements are made new again when paired with a bit of hard-edged modern grit.
In a sit-down with the band, songwriter and lead vocalist Chad Preston tells us that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. He explains, “I’m a huge fan of a lot of the 60's stuff so I guess some of the songs sound like that. There’s no real sound that we’re going for. Everyone brings different elements to it. Everyone has different influences...we all come from different places. All the bands that we played with before were totally different too.”
Out of that diversity of backgrounds comes an album, titled There Are No More Gentlemen, that perfectly combines the plaid flannel with the poodle skirt. But is there a message behind the mash-up? According to Chad, “It wasn’t meant to be political, but if you take people in public office, like our president maybe, or people that you would think would be considered ‘gentlemen,’ in so many cases lately it turns out that they’re not...a good person basically, or a noble person in the old sense. It just doesn’t seem like there are any anymore.”
Something these fellows learned the hard way. Prior to the band's formation, Chad had a cache of songs written but no fast fingers to churn them out, so he turned to the ever-chancy Craigslist in the hopes of enlisting a few band members. Much like any online matchmaking service, this method of mate-finding is not without its dangers. The boys, now happily committed to each other, recounted a few Single White Female-ish pre-Laureates horror stories, but luckily escaped them without any stiletto pump incidents. Drummer Pete Gray told us:
Before I played with Chad, I played with a guy who told me to meet him at his warehouse space that was underneath the highway by, Chinatown...and all the lights were off when I got there. He just sort of didn’t say much, and he walked in and went inside this...plastic. He had plastic sheets hung all over the place. There were instruments everywhere and microphones dangling from the ceiling. It was like his little music cave. He didn’t really talk, he just started playing, and other people showed up and they just started playing. So then after about an hour and a half I was like, ‘Alright I’m gonna go.’
Fortunately for us, these four came out unscathed and eventually found each other, and have been rocking such Chicago staples as Hideout, the Abbey Pub and Subterranean since February 2007. They add the new-and-improved Bottom Lounge to that list this Thursday, along with the Metro later next month. Catch them if you can.
Bottom Lounge, 1375 W. Lake, Sept. 25, 9 p.m., 21+, Tickets here.
Metro, 3730 N. Clark, Oct. 23, 9 p.m., 21+
Photo courtesy of Joe Mohan from their Myspace page. From left to right: Crawfie Ward - Bass, Pete Gray - Drums, Chad Preston - Vocals, Guitar, Adam Penly - Guitar.
Bop along to their MP3s here.