Toads and Mice streamline for Dark Party
By Kyle Melton
In its current state, the music brewing up from the underground of Dayton’s independent rock scene shows exceptional variety for a humble, midwestern town. Over the past few years, Toads and Mice established themselves as one of the most promising young talents, combining harsh dissonance, insistent rhythms and inventive guitar work.
Guitarist/vocalist Dustin Rose, bassist Bradley Patrick and drummer Brandon Guthrie will celebrate the release of their second album, Dark Party, with a show at Blind Bob’s this Friday.
In late 2007, Toads and Mice first rose to notoriety within the Dayton indie scene with the release of their self-titled debut on local imprint Squids Eye Records. Filled with ambitious arrangements fueled by jazz sensibilities juxtaposed against angular rhythms and riffs, the disc earned the band a much-deserved reputation as one of the most promising young bands in Dayton at that time. Despite this quick burst of attention, Rose felt the direction of the band would soon shift course.
“The night of that release was the first time I listened to U.S. Maple’s Talker and I remember listening to it and it really blew my mind and I felt like I was releasing the wrong record that night,” Rose said. “It took a while to process that and I just really thought that was one of the coolest records I’d ever heard. Starting there we started writing new songs.”
As the band began to chart a new course during 2008, they soon discovered the existing quartet would need to be reduced to a trio and parted ways with guitarist Matt Shields in late 2008. With the new streamlined configuration in place, the band set to work crafting new material, which took a somewhat tortured path to completion.
“I still really liked what we did the first time around, but there was some clutter in our sound,” Rose admitted. “In eliminating the other guitarist, it made it easier to get done what we wanted to get done. We started writing new songs and I think the first song that we wrote of the Dark Party songs was in early 2008. The last four songs on the record were definitely 2009 to 2010. I don’t know why it took so long, but it was a pretty painful process. A lot of fighting. Not necessarily my favorite way to do it, but it worked out.”
Although difficult to complete, the results heard on Dark Party clearly evince a band seeking to redefine themselves while still retaining their trademark elements. While clearly indebted to Chicago’s ‘90s post-rock sensibilities, Rose’s distinctive vocals and the musical interplay amongst the members retains a singular voice focused on sparse rhythms and exceptional dissonance.
“There’s a rawness to it,” Rose said. “Harmonically and melodically, the tonal qualities are aimed at dissonance, vibrations and oscillations. There are a lot of dissonant notes happening between the guitar and the vocal that I’ve picked because I like that vibrating sound of the two notes clashing. That’s definitely what it’s aimed at.”
Completed late last year, the band offered a digital download via Bandcamp, but will be releasing the album on vinyl at the upcoming show. For Toads and Mice, the process of presenting the album on this format is preferable and is the manner in which they feel best conveys the essence of the album. With visual assistance from John Mengerink and Sasha Milton, the album is being issued in hand-pressed covers that further heighten the mood of the album.
“It’s a true physical copy of what we’ve done,” said Rose. “It did help give it the sound that I wanted. It’s supposed to be this dark, rocky album. Definitely puts the right touch on it; finishing touch to it.”
While the band has no immediate plans to tour due to school schedules, they are no doubt proud of their efforts on Dark Party and are very excited to share the fruits of their efforts with the world.
“I think it’s cool and it represents those three years really well,” said Rose. “Anyone that cares about Toads and Mice and the roughness of Dayton can appreciate this record.”
Toads and Mice will celebrate the release of Dark Party with a show on Friday, August 5 at Blind Bob’s, 430 E. Fifth St. Also on the bill are Playfully Yours and Lo-Pan. Admission is $5 for 21 & up. Doors at 9 p.m. For more information, visit toadsandmice.bandcamp.com.
Reach DCP Music Editor Kyle Melton at MusicEditor@DaytonCityPaper.com.