Flood of optimism for a rainy kind of day
> Rainy Day Manual celebrates the ‘good stuff’ with new EP
Special to The Commercial Appeal
Huddled together on a Midtown backyard patio on what seems like the first sunny day in weeks, the members of local rock band Rainy Day Manual explain the origins of their name.
“There’s a certain attitude present in Memphis; pessimism is prevalent in a lot of areas,” says guitarist/vocalist Chris Faulkner, 26. “What our music does is try to encourage those who are attached to that pessimism and lift them. It’s a very lifting but in a more playful sort of way, not so gothic serious. More like: Things can suck, but everything’s going to be OK. And if you look hard enough, there’s some really good stuff out there.”
Without looking too hard, one of those good things presents itself this weekend with the release of Rainy Day Manual’s debut EP, Vox A Copia. The band plays a show commemorating the release Saturday at Neil’s Music Room. CDs of Vox A Copia will be for sale at the show, and five tracks are also available now as pay-what-you-want downloads through the band’s Web site, rainydaymanual.com.
Rainy Day Manual started as a songwriting collaboration between Faulkner and singer/guitarist/keyboardist Seth Hendricks in 2005.
The pair played as Four Square for a year before they changed their name to Rainy Day Manual and began recruiting other players. They went through two different rhythm sections before a mutual friend introduced them to bassist Keith Pounds and drummer Preston Ross in 2007.
“We had a friend who recognized the kind of chemistry we were looking for,” says Faulkner. “That was one of the things we were missing with the first groups; personal chemistry as well as musical chemistry. The first practice we knew we had work to do because it flew together so well.”
More than just chemistry, the new rhythm section added a new sonic dimension to the group. The songs of Faulkner and Hendricks tend toward the moody, navel-gazing rock of bands like Radiohead. But with the additions of Ross and Pounds, both fans of more rhythmically complex bands like 311 and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the music became more engaging and fun.
“With every rhythm section we had to adapt out parts. We like to share the idea of the music with everybody, so every time we would change groups we would allow them to have their input,” says Hendricks, 25. “What (Ross and Pounds) have brought is a groove to the music that had been missing. We wanted to make music that had really catchy melodies and good words and good chord structures. But what they did was bring a groove to it that you could bob your head to. All of a sudden, people started dancing.”
And increasingly, the main songwriters have drawn their rhythm section into the writing process as well.
“Originally, they would just bring a song, and we would just play it, and it was usually a song they’d already played with someone else,” says Pounds, 28. “Now when we write, somebody brings an idea, and we all four sit down and say: This part would be cool here. What if we switch this here or move this here? And then I’ll add a bass line, or Preston will come up with a cool drumbeat. And then it’s like, OK, let’s base it around that.”
The band members spent Labor Day weekend holed up in Fayetteville, Ark., working on new songs for what they see as the next in a series of EPs leading up to their first full-length album next year.
“I like the new songs a lot,” says Ross, 26. “We play a lot of melodic, space-filling stuff, and this is just boom, in-your-face, just attack right from the get-go. That’s kind of a good thing to have.”
Blues City Café:
Rainy Day Manual is Seth Hendricks (left), Chris Faulkner, Preston Ross and Keith Pounds. They celebrate the release of debut EP “Vox a Copia” Saturday at Neil’s.