Berry Get Therapy

prof_berry_sm"Marriage dealt with a crumbling relationship and all of the depression, resignation, and quiet hope that consumes you in that situation. Most of the writing on Empathy is coming out of [singer/guitarist Joey Lemon's] first year of a Masters in Counseling program."

 

While Texas-based indie label Right Place Records released Berry's 2005 crit-hit full-length Marriage (the label has plans to release their next full-length in January 2008) drummer Paul Goodenough says there's a good chance the band's upcoming February ‘07 six-song EP, tentatively titled Empathy (The Me Me Me EP), "will be a good, old-fashioned DIY effort."

prof_berryThe band's change in production technique on Empathy (favoring Pro Tools over two-inch analog tape) and new lineup (Kit Hamon replaced bassist Sam Campbell in April, a split Goodenough calls "heartbreaking—but we're still friends") will showcase a "more guitar-driven" sound than did Marriage. "Sonically, I think of Marriage as a subtle, nuanced record. It sounds hazy to me now, like the songs are being played behind a curtain, or at the other end of a big auditorium." The sounds on Empathy are "much clearer, brighter, maybe even harsh at times. We all experimented with new guitar and noise tones, more screeching distortion."

The two releases are similar in that they both fit specific themes. "Marriage dealt with a crumbling relationship and all of the depression, resignation, and quiet hope that consumes you in that situation. Most of the writing on Empathy is coming out of [singer/guitarist Joey Lemon's] first year of a Masters in Counseling program."

This focus on counseling helped cohere the new lineup. "All of the songs try in one way or another to explore someone else's point of view," Goodenough says. "And I think that translated into a greater willingness to listen to each other as a band and try new ideas."

After a year of travel, promoting Marriage with tours of both coasts and one-off festival showcases—a Wall of Sound festival bill in Fort Worth, Texas, with Okkervil River, Low, and Octopus Project was a high point—the St. Louis/Greenville, Ill.–based quartet (also featuring keyboardist Matt Aufrecht) is contemplating a more permanent relocation in the spring. According to Goodenough, the move stems from a need to "kick our own asses out of the comfort zone. We all feel like we're in a rut and that a new place would be really great for everybody."

He continues with the same familiar logic that has hastened the departure of dozens of ambitious St. Louis bands before them: "Not to knock St. Louis, but there are some amazing scenes out there—Kansas City, San Francisco, Norman, Boston—and I think that St. Louis is missing out on a lot of great bands because for whatever reason people here just don't go to shows. I mean, why can't a great room like Radio Cherokee stay open? Why does a venue close every month? It's just not a place to make a living as a rock musician."

Catch St. Louis' other Berry in town while you can as they hit Off Broadway on December 14 with friends Black Tie Dynasty from Fort Worth, Texas. Just don't ask them to do the duck walk. | Brian McClelland

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