Starting at the finish line

Idle Discourse hits the ground running in all directions

DANCE NUMBER <br>It may look like chaotic improv, but gettin’ crazy on stage at Off Limits is all part of Idle Discourse’s well-planned stage show

It may look like chaotic improv, but gettin’ crazy on stage at Off Limits is all part of Idle Discourse’s well-planned stage show

Photo By Jason Cassidy

Preview: Idle Discourse, Red With Envy & Trace Element LaSalles Fri., Feb. 3, 10pm Cost: $5

For every established Chico band that has been playing around town for years, there are 10 more that disappear as soon as they figure out a cool name for themselves (anyone remember the Durham Rockers? Arnica Sync?). So, it shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to see your local weekly profiling a band with three of four members who are still under 21, that’s only been playing shows for roughly six months and that hasn’t even released a demo. But what you might be wondering is, “Why should I care?”

Idle Discourse is not your average garage band just getting started with a handful of un-polished tunes played on crappy equipment. These young guys are already all on the same page, unleashing the kind of furious and complicated guitar rock that veteran noise-rockers—or screamo-rockers, or post-punkers, or whatever—usually get to only after burning out in a handful of bands.

“I don’t know how else to say it, besides I want to live in a van with these guys or a bus, hopefully,” explained vocalist/guitarist Jonathan Carabba, hollering over the din of the evening café crowd at the Naked Lounge.

These guys are all Music Industry majors (except for bassist Christopher Chegia, who’s doing Music Performance), so it’s no surprise that they’d be so music-focused. But when drummer Mitch Beddoe shared during a recent band chat that, “[locals] Secret Stolen are kind of like our band buddies … I think about it like they’re Sparta, and [we’re] Mars Volta,” a major part of their development was made clear.

The examples of Sparta and Mars Volta—two halves of the formerly whole At the Drive In—are indicative of the accumulation of years of sophisticated post-punk and math-rock influence on the world of pop music. It’s kind of like growing up on jazz—you’re more likely to want to start off with something a little more complex from the outset.

Take the eight-minute long “Mare Basins,” one of the sample songs available on Idle Discourse’s MySpace site. It’s built around a basic fast-moving rock progression, with great guitar melodies snaking around the foundation and straight-ahead melodious shouting over the top. Solid. But that’s barely the beginning: Next comes the spot-on time-signature of the choruses, then progged-out bridges, a couple of ambient space-rock breakdowns, a beautiful odd-timed loop, then back to fast-paced rockin’ with some extra guitar noise, and another circular guitar riff that fades into more sparkling ambiance.

And it all fits together nicely. It’s not like a bad jazz metal band rehearsing the musical acrobatics of one song for a year to create an unlistenable mess. These four young men have created a complex, tightly composed song that you don’t have to think about—it just works. And they play more than one, all with confidence and plenty of emotion.

Even if the influences that come through most in the music—like Mars Volta or Thrice—reside in the shallow waters of a deeper musical history, the band does point to some punk (Fugazi, Vandals) and jazz (Oscar Peterson Trio) as being influential as well.

“We didn’t pick a style,” guitarist Alex Woods explained. “Our process is we go in the directions we feel like. We can just do what we want.”

All four guys agreed that for now, guitarist Woods is the catalyst for their songwriting.

“When I was young … I was really into art and painting and making noises and very kind of weird abstract stuff. I’ve really learned how to tap into my creativity,” explained Woods, “I’ve always been able to let it flow out.”

The fiery Carrabas blurts back, “He’ll think of a cool a part and then all of a sudden all of us are like little kids. We grab our instruments and we’re like, ‘Holy crap! We have to write something to this now.’

“He’ll like play me a part and be like, ‘Dude, I totally picture an old grandma with long gray hair walking through woods with red trees dripping with blood.’

“The song that Alex is writing on guitar right now—it’s blowing my mind. I’m losing sleep over it. … We’re definitely going more technical in general … “

Beddoe interrupts, “We’re trying to do what we probably won’t be able to do without a lot of practice.”