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Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2010

For The New Loud, a New Approach

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Shane Olivo, Jessi Nakles and Tim Frank of Milwaukee’s plucky keyboard-driven rock band The New Loud seem pretty comfortable in their slow shift from indie rock pros to a synth-layered, computer-geek pop machine. The now-trio has ditched the bass and amps they used for nearly a decade in favor of high-octane computer techniques and added the help of production assistant/musician Nick Berg (Conrad Plymouth) to take their recording and promoting tactics into a fast-forward and forward-thinking new direction.

Guitarist/vocalist Olivo says their new style is so high-octane that it’s akin to a runaway train, as evidenced in their last performance. “We had a 30-minute set that basically just started and stopped; every song went into the next,” he says of the new stage setup, which involves more technology than the band has used in the past.

“Luckily, during one of the songs, right in the middle, the laptop just stopped. There was some computer error, so that gave us a little break so we could talk,” he says, laughing. “We’re running everything through a laptop, so the keyboard and the guitar get plugged into it and we’re using amp simulators. It’s kind of funny, because here I was working my ass off, trying to put this together, but what I didn’t do was program parts for me to talk or stop.”

Fortunately, breakneck speed isn’t a completely unmanageable feat for the Milwaukee band. Since beginning work on their recent releases—the EP Can’t Stop Knowing and its successor full-length, Measures Melt—The New Loud has been busy promoting their music. But they’re also working on doing it smarter this time around. Challenging advice to play out as much as they can, they’ve been more selective about taking gigs, preferring to play with DJs and electronic-minded acts that complement the band (for instance, playing with The Hood Internet and DJ Diamonds).

They also took on new collaborators, enlisting Mark Trombino, drummer for Drive Like Jehu and producer for Jimmy Eat World, to mix their latest releases and upstart filmmakers Jack Packard of Milwaukee and Jason Kraynek of Chicago to make videos for their songs.

“Our first video [“Don’t Dance”] has about 10,000 plays now,” Olivo says. “‘Heaven,’ which was on the EP and also the 12-inch remix release, has about 11,000 plays. ‘Secrets’ is around 5,000 plays; that came out in April. The last one, which is my favorite, is called ‘Get Lost.’ That’s the one where we’re being chased by evil instruments.”

“It’s very Evil Dead,” Nakles adds.

By reaching out and stepping up its promotion, the band is gaining more recognition than it could get just from touring mid-sized clubs. Trombino alone has been name-checked in reviews of the releases for Amplifier Magazine and the music blog Consequence of Sound. The videos, too, are making a name for the band, giving testament to the energy of their live performance and new, techie-pop setup.

Nakles says the band will continue its aggressive outreach campaign.

“We got Trombino to do the mixing of our EP and our full-length, so we thought, ‘Why don’t we try to get someone else that we really, really like to remix one of our songs?’ So, we got Mad Professor,” Nakles says. “We only expected one remix, and he sent us three. We put that out on vinyl. That’s something we’re pretty proud of.

“How often does that happen?” Nakles adds with a laugh. “We lucked out two times!”

The look of luck is definitely in The New Loud’s eyes, but it’s a look that’s rightfully been won.

The New Loud perform with Oh My God, IfIHadAHiFi and Victory and Associates on a 9:30 p.m. bill at the Cactus Club on Saturday, Oct. 16.