At the end of 2011, rock band Madre had a new album and seemed to be playing higher and higher profile shows. Then the group took a one year hiatus while co-lead singer-guitarist Stephen Osborne joined his wife in Los Angeles.
"We've been off the radar for a year and you'd like to think people would say, 'Oh, great. I remember those guys. I'll go see them.' But it's also like we're starting with a clean slate," says co-lead singer guitarist Andrew Sayne.
Sitting in a booth at Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria on Jackson Avenue, Sayne and Osborne relax over a couple of beers and try to remember exactly how the band materialized.
"I kind of think it's the same story of a lot of bands ..." says Osborne.
"Some people in college, some not and after a lot of drinking and some playing we woke up one day and said, 'Hey! We wrote some songs!'"
Osborne and Sayne began working together at Chesapeake's in 2008. Osborne was in the band The Pills. Sayne was in a band called Mezzanine. The two realized they had mutual friends and mutual musical likes and decided to join forces.
As for the band's name, it could've easily been called Red Eared Sliders rather than Madre.
"When I was a kid I had these turtles and they were called red eared sliders ..." begins Osborne.
"That sounds like something you get that's bad!" says Sayne.
Sayne has a tattoo with the word Madre that runs up his right arm. People generally assume that the tattoo in honor of the band, but it's the other way around.
"I had this tattoo well before the band," says Sayne. "I got it for my mother. She passed away when I was 17. She'd probably be mad that I got a tattoo. I'd like to think that she'd dig the band."
Osborne says the group (Osborne, Sayne, Bryan Norris, Alex Melin and Heath Nicholls) clicked right away. The band began recording in drummer Melin's apartment. One song called "Lasagna" was written in honor of late longtime Knoxville musician Rick Wolfe, who had helped The Pills make their recordings. Osborne had delivered an order of lasagna to Wolfe when he was dying of cancer in 2007 and Osborne had saved a recording of Wolfe's voice-mail thank you and it was used in the recording.
Both Osborne and Sayne say that was the song that let them know they had a special chemistry.
"That song just came together so fast," says Osborne.
Directly afterward, Osborne took a trip to Paris and Sayne listened to the recordings the band had made.
"That's when I knew I wanted to spend my life with this band," says Sayne.
The group went on to record that album "Parameters" with Knoxville producer Eric Nowinski.
"We bought 1,000 CDs because we got a really great deal," says Sayne, with a chuckle.
"We started out selling them for $10 a pop and then we realized it was best just to get your music out," says Osborne. "So we just said 'Give us anything!' People would throw down $1 and we'd give them a CD."
While the band is happy with the album, the group plans to return to home recording for the next few releases, so that they can capture more experimentation and spontaneity.
"We're really learning how to write together again," says Sayne.
"We're trusting each other more," he says, nodding to Osborne. "I'm not gonna be upset if you don't like an idea I come up with. I've had plenty of bad ideas and you have, too! Before, I felt like we took ourselves too seriously. In pursuit of trying to write a big, epic song we'd lose the fun. Now we just want people to dance!"
With: Johnny Astro and the Big Bang, The Willies, Gamenight
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Preservation Pub, 28 Market Square
© 2013, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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