We begin this week’s Musicbeat in the usual manner—with a short exploration into the world of Arachnocampa luminosa. These unusual insects occur, like much of the music industry, in the dark caves and the deep rainforest of New Zealand. The Arachnocampa larva glow a faint white in the gloom and, to people with glaucoma, severe memory problems or raging drug addictions, do a fair impersonation of the starry night sky. Other cave-dwelling creatures are unable to resist Arachnocampa’s dazzling display and, drawn toward the larva’s web of sticky hanging mucous strands, find themselves hopelessly ensnared. Our predatory bug then reels in its string of mucous, drains the juices from inside its victim and drops the unfortunate, desiccated stargazer to rot among the cave floor detritus.
On a related note, Rigorous Proof, a Reno band filled with young men who’ve been playing together since middle school, is releasing a new single called “Carolina.” In this mellow, late Santana-esque ballad with unusually heavy bass and lots of vocal layering, Rigorous Proof continually warns Carolina—a woman, not a state—about naughty boys who “want to make it with you.”
“I went to Los Angeles for four years,” says 21-year-old singer/guitarist David Squelch. “I saw a lot of artists, especially girls, get exploited sexually, artistically. Taken advantage of in ways where they don’t get paid.”
Evidently promises of free studio time, meetings with big wigs and such are to the L.A. music refugees what Arachnocampa’s glittering lights are to winged gnats. Squelch wrote “Carolina” during his city of angels stay. Perhaps this up-close and personal experience with the industrial-musical complex explains why Rigorous Proof contends musical talent is shifting from the West Coast and toward places like Austin, Texas. Perhaps it explains why they can describe exactly why a record deal doesn’t mean as much these days as it did during the wild, speculative ’90s.
The band shares a home in northwest Reno. In contrast to most bachelor pads, there are relatively few strings of mucous dangling from the ceiling. Aside from the pervasive smell of cigarette smoke, the entire house is shockingly pleasant. Johnny Bailey is another 21-year-old singer/guitarist. Adam Landis, 24, plays the keyboards and, on the rare occasions he isn’t smiling, looks like that guy at the insurance company who could totally kick the other adjusters’ asses if they stepped out of line.
The members of Rigorous Proof began their musical lives in the hardcore and punk scenes. Indeed, the remnants of this history can still be heard in songs like “I Don’t Wanna Be Your Boyfriend.” Those in the punk and hardcore scenes admire bombast before all else and, Bailey says, Rigorous Proof was once of this mindset. However, with puberty, came wisdom and, should you go to a Rigorous Proof concert, you will enjoy music at a volume conductive to conversation.
“We want to make music people can appreciate,” says Bailey. “Music people can talk about.”
Should you wish to sample music in the style of The Shins and The Black Keys, then Rigorous Proof offers a compelling case. They won’t desiccate your body either.