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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Into Arcadia's Rebirth

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Into Arcadia has truly caught the spirit of renewal that comes with this time of year, and the quartet's recent recording session has breathed energy and direction into their sincere style of pop-rock, further invigorated by true camaraderie.

"We've retooled, restaffed, imploded, broken up and yet somehow managed to pick up the pieces and carry on," guitarist/keyboardist Kenny Buesing explains. "Half of the original lineup has changed, dozens of songs have been written and tossed, until we've come to the point we are at now where we have what we feel to be a collection of the most representative, if not the best, songs from the preceding two years ... We've made some missteps and learned quite a lot."

Into Arcadia's last release was the 2008 EP Maps for Children, a somber and intense barrage of post-rock guitars and drums paired with swirling pop elements. The band's new set of songs from a still-in-progress, yet-to-be-named album is more uplifting in timbre and lyricism.

Otto Ohlsson, Into Arcadia's founding member and vocalist/guitarist, says, "I think pop music can still be memorable; I can't write disposable songs. [When I was young] I got into the grunge scene because people were shouting about something I could relate to, and it influenced the way I write. You listen to Joy Division and you find your own way to relate to it. I don't spend my nights out drinking. I [prefer to] spend it writing music."

New members Zach Steiner and Antonio Ninham, on bass and drums respectively, have joined Ohlsson and Buesing to inspire and propel the band's renewed sound.

"This will be our first full-length," Buesing points out. "In the past, we had gone back and forth at times as to whether we felt like a full-length would be the next logical step. To a certain extent, it felt as though perhaps a continued string of EP releases would be an attractive option because of how quickly and frequently we could come out with new releases, and it seemed a bit of a sign of the times with the full-length's waning relevance in favor of shorter formats. In the end, though, the pull of the LP seemed pretty inevitable. It just seems one of those formats, like the novel, that has an undeniable quality."

And to go for quality they enlisted the help of Paul Kneevers at Kneever-Kneeverland to record, along with Simon Bundy, committing their new tracks on reel to reel, for a sound that is warm and vibrant.

"When we recorded our first EP, it was at Simon Bundy's," Buesing says. "While he had no part in the tracking of the album, he would be present in the studio and had occasion to overhear stuff on playback. He seemed to be taken with the music and took an active interest in us. At some point he wanted to try his hand at mixing one of the tracks, and after hearing the results we kept him on to mix the rest of it. Simon has a tremendous influence on the sound of the recorded material. He challenges us to consider different avenues and forces us to articulate and define what the hell we are looking to achieve from each song."

The band's first single, "Panic," is a testament to the hard work of the band, Bundy and Kneevers. When asked whether "Panic" is indicative of what the rest of the album sounds like, Buesing replies with a wise answer.

"It is and it isn't," he says. "When writing material we never had any preconceived notions as to what would lend itself to airplay, and when the time came, we felt a bit spoiled for choice because most of our material essentially adheres to a pop structure and therefore has an inherent accessibility to it. [This] album has already given us a lot more freedom to sculpt the kind of sound we want, [and there was] more of a process going into creating the final product. We'll probably drive ourselves a bit nuts along the way, but hopefully we'll come out on the other end with something fully formed to show for it."

Into Arcadia headlines the Cascio Interstate Music Groove Stage at Summerfest at 9 p.m. on Saturday, July 9.