- With: May Gray and Young Wife
- Where:The Birdhouse, 800 N. Fourth Ave.
- When: 9 p.m. Friday, May 30
- Admission: Free, donations appreciated
Several years ago Kamuy was an art rock band known for its sparse vocals and lengthy, epic songs. Personal differences and conflicting schedules caused the group to take a three-year hiatus. Now the group has re-formed with some new members and new instrumentation but claims little has changed since the old days.
During Kamuy's lengthy break, some members of the band focused on other projects of differing styles. But the three remaining original members and longtime friends ultimately looked back on their former outfit fondly enough to regroup.
"(The break) was not intentional," says bassist/vocalist Sonya Easterday. "Basically I think there were some other things going on for people personally. (Former drummer) Emily (Robinson) started playing with The Tenderhooks, and Tony (Johnson) had two or three other projects going on. Tony and I did Atropos together for a little while and had talked about doing some other stuff again, and at the same time Brandt (Womack, guitarist) called me and wanted to get the band back together, so we did it with just the three of us."
Given the band's instrumental-heavy sound, the trio invited violinist Natalie Kimbro and guitarist Brian Woodruff into the fold earlier this spring. Kamuy is now able to present its music with more layers than previously afforded in a live scenario. The addition of younger players may also serve to add enthusiasm to the admittedly melancholy outlook of the well-grounded act that seldom performs live.
"Me and Tony and Brandt are all in our 30s, and we're not playing like we did in our early 20s," says Easterday. "We're much more focused on what we want to get out of it. We know the whole 'I'm gonna be a rock star' thing is completely unrealistic. It would be awesome to make money by making music, but we want to put stuff out there because we love it and want to share it with other people. We enjoy doing it."
Another new facet of the band is a significant increase in vocal attention.
"We've always had vocals," says Easterday. "We have a lot of instrumentation, but we always had some vocals. I think it seems like there are more now, because in the old songs there weren't as many and they were sparse, but now it's more vocal-heavy. We still do a few instrumentals, though."
"I think we're communicating better with each other now," Johnson elaborates. "We do have a new direction since we got back together."
The band's music ranges from upbeat and danceable (independent of the lyrics) to somber and atmospheric. Kamuy's diverse catalog makes the band accessible to a variety of listeners and venues, a valuable commodity in a local scene where venues can be restrictive of certain musical genres.
"I think (the scene) is divided at times," says Johnson. "There are certain venues that get a certain kind of patron, and they kind of stick to that. I see it breaking down a little bit lately, and I'm happy about that. One advantage for us is that we're genre-bending enough to fit in with various types of bands, so I don't think we can be pigeon-holed like other bands could be."
Kamuy hopes to record later this summer and tour in the fall.
n POWER/AID: Doc rockers The VibraSlaps join New Power Trio for a show at Barley's Taproom tonight. This show is slated for 10 p.m.
n IF YOU CAN'T TAKE THE CHEAT … Tuesday night Pilot Light hosts The Cheat with Jeff and Meemaw. Doors open at 9 p.m., and admission is $5.
© 2008, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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