Cassavetes isn't an experimental band, per se. But it gamely tinkers with the song format. Sometimes it kicks off a track with an atmospheric instrumental, such as the one bassist Jay Pollard pounds out on "Moved So Slow." Other times, it appends the songs together without interruption, one after the other, to create long, thematic threads.
"When we play live, it's our goal to make it ebb and flow so it's an experience. It's not like we have lights and smoke or anything, but it's not like we always [play at the] same volume or use the same [melodic] tones," says Robert Horlick. (You can hear Cassavetes tracks at www.myspace.com/cassavetes.)
Horlick, who plays guitar and sings, often obscures his lyrics so his singing produces a particular sound, comparable to a band instrument, instead of a recognizable string of words. His voice is a plain but expressive croon, and he likes to artfully stretch out syllables. "I like a quote from David Berman of the Silver Jews. He said that all his favorite singers couldn't sing," says Horlick. "This is the voice that comes out of me. It's not 'American Idol' style. It's just me."
Horlick and drummer Cary Henderson founded the band in 2002. They've used the name Cassavetes for only a year. Before that, they called themselves the Life and Times, and, improbably, Brown Noise ("We didn't want to seem like a funny band, or a band just referencing some 'South Park' episode," says Horlick). The band has gone through a few lineup changes, and now consists of Horlick and Henderson, bassist Pollard and keyboardist/guitarist Tyler Woodstrom.
Horlick says he didn't know who John Cassavetes was before adopting his surname. "We just really liked the name. It's a very lyrical word, and striking to look at," says Horlick. He has since learned that Cassavetes was a pretty good film director.
Cassavetes plays Lenny's Fri., March 3, with Ocelot and All the Saints. $5. 9 p.m. 307 Memorial Drive. 404-577-7721. www.lennysbar.com.
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