One Night Band: The Positronic Rays

Photo of me shamelessly stolen from The Weekly Dig’s One Night Band Flickr

Important stuff first: The Positronic Rays on Facebook, The Positronic Rays on Twitter, The Positronic Rays on Youtube.

I had the pleasure of participating this year in Boston Band Crush’s One Night Band, an event that I helped organize last year.  The premise: 10 AM, 40 musicians arrive at a meeting point.  They are randomly assigned into 8 different bands of 5 people – all people they’ve never been in a band with before.  Then, at 7 PM, they reconvene at The Middle East Downstairs and each band performs 3 original songs and 1 cover, all written/learned between 10 AM and 7 PM. There was great anticipation for the day. I did a little interview for BBC and my thoughts were heavily featured in the Boston Globe article previewing the event.

The hat draw was very kind to me and I ended with an excellent troupe consisting of: Sophie Innerfield (Highly Personal Trash), Nate Leavitt (Blizzard of ’78, Parlour Bells), Benny Grotto (Motherboar), and Jim Collins (Gene Dante and the Future Starlets, MEandJOANCOLLINS, Eddie Japan, and every other band in Boston). I braved making a proposal to select a theme so that we had something to work with for writing songs more easily. We all quickly agreed on a space theme and quickly agreed to name the band, The Positronic Rays, after the weapon of concern in one of my favorite movies, Barbarella (very short piece I wrote about the movie).

We ran off to rehearse at a space kindly provided by Benny. I had a really great time collaborating with these guys. I did my very best to not overimpose myself in the creative process and had a really good time backing away from writing lyrics and from singing. It gave me an opportunity to explore playing with some strange effects. I played acoustic guitar for the day to ensure that we all had different instruments. Frankly, if I never meet a band with more than one electric guitar again in my life, I won’t shed a single tear. I got to play the acoustic through an octave pedal with no clean signal, making a crazy kind of harpsichord sound (Spaceman Max Part 1), through my cranked Big Muff (Spaceman Max Part 2), and I had the pleasure of using my TC Helicon vocal effects processor to explore crazy reverbs for backing vocals and the “Giant” preset for taking on the voice of the “Master of the Universe.” After all, our songs told the story of the brave Spaceman Max, sent from a dying Earth to prepare Mars for colonization, only to find that the great watcher, the Master of the Universe would only watch and not assist as Earth gasped its final breath and Max was left alone on Mars to watch its “red sky turn grey.”

We were perhaps the first act to perform a space opera at One Night Band, but perhaps not the last one…

The Boston Phoenix wrote very kindly of our endeavor.

Sophie also posted her take on the day and Nate posted his take as well.

Our full set, kindly recorded by Sophia, who may, if you’re lucky, also post on here about her ONB experience in 10 Hours of Chaos, a zombie-themed supergroup.