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Andeline Keeps Emo Fans Guessing

Andeline Keeps Emo Fans Guessing

Emo. A genre for depressing, overly emotional kids obsessed with love, death, and any combination of the two, right?

Not to hear Andeline tell the story.

“We discovered our favorite pastime on our recent tour. We tie a gallon of milk to yarn, then toss the gallon of milk out the window,” guitarist Ryan Ainsworth says with a devilish grin. “It’s hilarious to watch the thin film of milk going down the highway. We’ve done the same thing with entire six-packs of coke- and caught it all on tape.” The rest of the band explodes into laughter and the conversation moves quickly on. Not a very depressing bunch of guys, these 5 men of Andeline. But Andeline’s story deviates even more from the emo pattern.

“We really don’t have songs about love or girls very much,” drummer Jason McManus says. “The songs are a lot about social issues that we feel strongly about, like corporate greed, and questions of faith and religion.”

If you’re not paying attention to Andeline by now, you need to get with the program. Formed a little over a year ago, Andeline is making a mark on the emo world not only with fun-loving antics and lyrical social commentary, but with a completely DIY work ethic, diverse musical ideas, and down-to-earth personalities. In short, everything that your average emo band is, Andeline isn’t.

Take Andeline’s strictly do-it-yourself stance to music. The tasks of website creation, merch creation, show booking, album designing and even album recording are all done by the members of Andeline in some way, shape or form. The most impressive of these is the fact that their recently released debut EP Transponder Down was completely self-recorded- if one didn’t know it, the quality of the recording could easily convince the listener that the album is the product of a professional studio. From barn-burning opener “We Are Not Pretending” to the tragic hollowness of “Amongst Thieves and Widows” to the mood-shifting closer “We’re Running from Sunset”, the guitars are crisp, the drums are intense, and the vocals burn with an enviable clarity. There’s not a song on the album that doesn’t ooze passion, and with the absence of trend-following screaming, it’s all the easier to believe Andeline when they claim “The glory of self-destruction is all that we’ve known!”

The passion is easily noticeable, as Andeline is not afraid to switch genres within songs, to crescendo and decrescendo the mood, to speed up and slow down. “Marching to the Beat of a Broken Drum” starts off with a pensive guitar line and soft drum roll before switching to an all-out emo attack for the verses. As soon as the listener has adjusted to the emo verse, they switch to a straight-up rock chorus, then segue into a post-hardcore drum/guitar lick, only to end up in a mournful chorale with ghostly vocals and forlorn single-note guitar picking. Finally, they finish up with some more charging guitars- and all of that was only one song, and only 4:47.

The genres they incorporate into their music are a product of their diverse musical tastes- Andeline listens to “everything in the rock genre,” according to Ainsworth. After a pause, he adds, “We listen to music that isn’t quite normal.”

As if to punctuate that statement, bassist Blake Evans chimes in, “I listened to some Bob Marley before we came up- it was pretty cool.”

Amongst other names mentioned: Gatsby’s American Dream, Queensryche, Radiohead, Jack Johnson, Letter Kills (whom they played one of their most memorable shows in support of), Boys Night Out, as well as the overall genres of jazz and classical.

With all these influences bouncing around in their minds, it’s incredible that the band can even write a cohesive song, much less seven of them, in the span of just a year. It’s a testament to the strong musicianship that these men bring to the table. Another testament to their musicianship is the fact that they can actually pull off their songs live- not just in the studio. Their show is intense, as the stage presence of vocalist Zeb Gautreaux is infectious. Although the rest of the band is rather static, their musical presence makes up for their lack of movement, as the sounds captured on tape translate excellently to the stage.

This is especially true of their harder songs, like the post-hardcore epic “They Don’t Bleed”. The most intense song they play, it’s also one that they feel most strongly about.

“It’s about white-collar greed- capitalism run amuck. We’re especially involved in it because we have a great fear that America’s greed is eventually going to harm the world we live in,” McManus notes with a sudden serious turn. “It’s not like we’re totally out to make a difference, but we write about what we feel like.”

Ainsworth compliments his thoughts.

“I think the way that we write- with kind of vagueness- helps out with to have people be open with this stuff, so they know that we’re not preaching at them and whatnot. That’s definitely something I would not want to be a part of,” Ainsworth says.

But not all songs are about serious issues. “We’re Running from Sunset” is a purely fictional story about a coke dealer escaping across the country, running from the law. “The Moment” is about (gasp) a girl. But maybe not, counters Ainsworth: “That’s a lie- all our songs are about Quiktrip Taquitos.”

The band’s collective love for Quiktrip Taquitos actually surfaces more than once in the course of the interview- along with the references to community. Their guitar tech Justin Andrekes dropped in on the interview, and they also told me of both their merch guy and their curiously monikered videographer The Bishop.

“There’s probably 12 people in this band,” McManus claims.

“Actually, Andeline isn’t a band- it’s our own community,” inserts Ainsworth. “Yeah, we’re building a cult,” jokes vocalist Gautreaux.

No matter what they’re doing, the good humor of Andeline comes forth. Whether making fun of themselves (Guitarist Sammy Mitchell “falls over all the time”, Gautreaux’s main job in the band is to provide the ‘boyish good looks’), remembering people they’ve met (the cigar-toting guitarist of Rose Hill Drive, the woman with more facial hair than them), or recounting hilarious stories (The “green monster”, the fact that the band formed in a hot tub), Andeline is having a great time doing what they do.

After all, Ryan notes, “We’re all the same type of person- we’re like Siamese cousins separated at birth.”

Here’s to the good-humored emo kid.

-Stephen Carradini