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Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011

Sat. Nite Duets’ Spontaneous Rock ’n’ Roll

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Like many bands, Milwaukee’s Sat. Nite Duets frequently takes refugee in their basement on weekends to experiment with finding the right sounds. While they may not have the most functional gear, the band has thrived in their basement environment, creating scrappy, psychedelic and dirty rock ’n’ roll.

It’s in this environment that scruffy guitar riffs wrap loosely around the walls, with melodies floating as in a hazy trance, while tongue-in-cheek vocals and lyrics recall life in the Midwest past and present.

The band’s recent six-song EP One Nite Only has quickly garnered the group comparisons to ’90s favorites like Pavement and Silver Jews. While the band acknowledges those influences, they are quick to point out that they’re interested in a wide range of music (classic rock like Led Zeppelin, for instance) and are open to trying anything.

“It’s kind of anything goes, as long as it’s catchy,” band member Ben Gucciardi says of the group’s mentality. “It’s pretty open, which I think is why it’s been so much fun.”

With no real frontman, everyone in the band has the chance to add input, creating a unique palette of varied song structures. On their EP, pretty much each member got a crack at writing a song.

“It’s kind of thrown together, but on the other hand it’s also not sloppy,” Gucciardi says. “The lyrics are often taken a lot of the time from jokes or mini mantras that we have going on.”

Their songwriting is often spontaneous. “Usually someone will have a progression or riff that’s funny and bring it and rip it out in the basement for a while,” Gucciardi says. “It’s not really a solidified process. You just come in and do it.”

Among those who took an interest in the band is Ryan Matteson, editor of the music blog Muzzle of Bees.

“I was hooked from the first play, immediately,” Matteson says. “It reminded me of the first time I was introduced to the sounds of Pavement and Silver Jews. It's dirty and grimy rock ’n’ roll. It sounds timeless and brand-new at the same time. I challenge you to listen to One Nite Only—it's a free download—and not find ‘All Nite Long’ and ‘Peel Away’ swimming in your head for hours after.”

Sat. Nite Duets, which has only played one show together so far but is preparing for more this year, is a natural progression of the band members’ friendships, several of which began as early as the seventh grade. The group was born of two high-school bands; Gucciardi was in a band with several other members called Two Kids Get New Books, while the others came from a band called Boyscouts. The two bands spent so much time playing shows together that they decided they might as well combine into one group. They christened the new band with an anagram for “United States.”

Like their formation and sound, the band’s new EP came together unexpectedly. Between stints of playing with Sat. Nite Duets, Gucciardi kept Two Kids Get New Books going and had begun working on an album for that group when member Andrew Jambura suggested doing a Sat. Nite Duets EP.

“It was definitely a lot looser than the Two Kids Get New Books songs that we were recording,” Gucciardi says of the result. “We just dove into it and didn’t worry too much about click tracks. It sounds like we were working on it for a long time, but we were really loose and feeling it out instead of trying to play songs that were technically recorded really well.”

Sat. Nite Duets plays at the Muzzle of Bees Sixth Anniversary showcase on Friday, Jan. 14, at the Cactus Club with Golden Coins and Blessed Feathers.