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Everybody Dies For Now

Bryan McAllister and Jordan Caroompas of Everybody Dies For Now play electronica, but their history as acoustic musicians has left its mark.

Bryan McAllister and Jordan Caroompas of Everybody Dies For Now play electronica, but their history as acoustic musicians has left its mark.

PHOTO/KENT IRWIN

Prior to forming the band Everybody Dies For Now, Jordan Caroompas and Bryan McAllister knew nothing about how to make electronic music.

Caroompas started his musical trajectory with piano, McAllister with viola. After studying jazz in college, they discovered a profound desire to turn musical events into memorable aesthetic experiences. While playing, both sought compelling ways to build atmosphere.

For McAllister, this once took the form of a recital-turned-birthday party for three famous people born the day of the event: Emeril Lagasse, Friedrich Nietzsche and Orioles pitcher Jim Palmer. For another recital, Caroompas made a tasting menu, complete with food and drink to pair with each piece of music.

With this mutual love of scene setting, an ear for improvisation and experimentation, and a solid backbone of formal training, the duo set their sights on making a different kind of music. They had conversations about death and immortality. They wrote down stories of scientists traveling through space, only to discover dead planet after dead planet. They started using computers to build songs. At first, the clean, metronomic regularity of the machine was an exciting contrast to what they had experienced previously.

“Once you start playing electronic music after playing with acoustic instruments your whole life, you say, ’Wow, I can do all this stuff so perfectly,’” said McAllister. “That’s really the way to kill yourself.”

“We were really obsessed with cleanliness in music,” said Caroompas. “The first few shows we played to a backing track. We realized pretty early on we didn’t want to do that.”

The young Everybody Dies For Now found that however satisfying their music felt at 4 a.m. behind their computers, it didn’t always translate to the energy of a live crowd. They scrapped the automation, started using their computers as instruments to be performed, and devised creative ways of playing them.

Once, while studying Dutch pronunciation, McAllister came across an instructional video of a woman explaining how to count to 10. He liked the sound, so he chopped up each number and assigned a different drum to each, then made a beat out of it live in front of an audience.

“We’re definitely trying to pull down the safety nets,” said McAllister. “If you have a track playing perfectly, you can’t feel as good. When you pull that away, it feels exhilarating to perform in front of people.”

The duo’s music doesn’t fit in with many electronic conventions. Specifically, it’s not for dancing. It often feels as intimate as a singer-songwriter playing a guitar on a stool. The beats are usually minimal, and the synths that accompany them are rarely repetitive. And Caroompas and McAllister haven’t become disconnected with their roots—they still crave the organic expressiveness of instruments.

It took bringing their music to bars and rock venues for the duo to forge the songs that will become their debut album. Once, they felt confident that they had enough material to release three albums. Now, after interacting with crowds, they’re taking a step back, reviewing their material, and considering how to make their best work.

“We were so certain about so many things, but the live element has changed it,” said Caroompas. “It’s not so sterile.”

He and McAllister hope to incorporate influences of performance art and stand-up comedy in their performances.

“We like comedy, but we don’t want to do jokes,” said Caroompas.

“That’s what the name is,” said McAllister. “We’re gonna die. That’s funny.”