ATLA — May/June 2010
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Music

Ahead of the Curve

On July 13, Atlanta indie-rock band Trances Arc drops their sophomore release, the 10-song gem TA—arguably one of the best local albums of the year. Although the band, which consists of lead singer Eric Toledo (33), guitarist Michael Dorio (32), drummer Brad Hagen (31) and bassist Danny Silvestri (31), has had its travails, the one consistency is their sound: straight-up indie rock with ’90s-influenced undertones and complex lyrical structures. Toledo sounds like a swoony version of Coldplay on softer tunes like “Camera Gun Shy,” while his voice cuts sharply (think REM’s Michael Stipe) through heavier tracks like the combustible “Boom City”—both anchoring the July release.

Trances Arc’s new album serves as brilliant sonic justification of the band’s promise-filled early years. Almost a decade ago, Trances Arc was dubbed Atlanta’s “next big thing.” Tey were getting spins on 99X, playing to massive crowds at the Music Midtown, and signing major management deals. Ten, nothing happened. So the band split from management in 2006 and went it alone, managing to place their songs on ABC shows like Greek and B-level movies like Road Trip 2. Tey also founded their own independent imprint, Slush Fund, which houses up-and-coming bands such as dramatic pop quartet the Judies and Athens-based, math-rock studs Part Bear. “I’ve always thought great music comes from a scene, whether it’s Motown in Detroit or the grunge movement in Seattle, so why not try and cultivate that here in Atlanta?” explains Dorio, who’s married to local photographer Sarah Dorio (she’s shot for Te Atlantan and Rolling Stone). But Trances Arc’s ambitions to raise their own profile didn’t exactly take a powder. Coming off a 2009 tour with the Whigs (Dorio’s brother Julian is the drummer for that band), the gents returned home with a batch of promising new tunes but not enough funds to record them. Tat’s when the guys went viral—logging on to Kickstarter.com, a legitimate, international, invite-only creative site that’s used to reach out to friends, fans and fellow artists for donations on artistic projects.Opposed to mere handouts, the band leveraged its dedicated fan base by offering covetable prizes for donations: signed TA albums, shirts, posters, guitars (including a 1978 Gretsch Committee used in their trolley station-turned-studio in East Atlanta), and even a private concert for one lucky big donor. Te band raised a whopping $10,000 in 30 days, and the result was not only a killer album, produced by Dan Dixon of Dropsonic, but also a major push from Kings of Leon’s pitchman and funds for future touring. “It’s the way the industry is evolving…taking out the middleman and having bands do things for themselves. Te tools are there if you’re smart about it,” says Toledo.

Nowadays, the band members are tied to several impressive side projects. Silvestri has been writing/recording for pop-tart Katy Perry, while Hagen was behind the skins on last year’s radio smash, “Felicia,” by the Constellations. And despite three members being engaged and one married, they still tend to roll in a pack (as every band should), hitting the Star Bar together after practice to cheer on the regionally based musician friends whom they’ve met on the road. Soon it will be the other way around.

“This, right here, is what it’s about,” explains Toledo from their practice space. “Showing up after work, cranking it out with the guys, making something you’re really proud of, and going out and sharing it with people.”
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