$15. 7 p.m. Monday, April 14. Center Stage, 1374 W. Peachtree St. 404-885-1365. www.centerstage-atlanta.com
What do bass-playing junior high boys from the Midwest dream about?
Someday I'll join a band, and we will get really popular locally, and then we'll hop into a van and move to New York City, they probably think, eyes heavy as they space out in front of "MTV Hits." Girls from all around town will come to our concerts, David Letterman will invite us on his show, and then we'll get a record deal. On Radiohead and Dave Matthews' label! They'll play our songs at coffee shops and the mall, and we will tour all over the world. It's gonna be awesome!
For Brooklyn-by-way-of-Columbia, Mo., group White Rabbits, that is exactly what happened. Armed with little more than an affinity for calypso and ska-influenced rock, the band came to the Big Apple three years ago after a few of its members graduated from college. Just last month, they inked a one-album deal with TBD Records, a subset of Matthews' ATO Records which, yes, recently landed Radiohead. The Rabbits are now set for a tour of the U.S., U.K., and Germany in the coming months.
And, for the record, it is awesome.
"I've gotten calls from family, 'Oh, I was in Starbucks, and your album was on the HDTV,' things like that," says the group's bassist Adam Russell, adding that his mother heard their song "Kid on My Shoulders" at an Old Navy store. "I think the coolest part is getting to meet a lot of the modern musicians and artists I'm influenced by."
One such group of musicians is Spoon. The band got turned onto the group after its keyboardist, Eric Harvey, saw the Rabbits perform with the National at Cornell University. "I guess he liked it, and went out partying with us, and we just talked," Russell says. The band was later invited to tour with the Austin, Texas-based indie-rock darlings. The Rabbits have also played with acts like the French Kicks and Bishop Allen, though a stadium date opening for Radiohead is not yet in the works.
After arriving in Bushwick, Brooklyn, from Columbia, Russell paid the rent mainly through temping and working at a bookstore. But around the time the group performed on Letterman he was able to concentrate on music full time. The TBD signing came as a result of the tremendous buzz surrounding the Rabbits' 2007 debut Fort Nightly – released on New York City micro-indie Say Hey Records – which received favorable reviews and mentions in Pitchfork, the Onion's A.V. Club, New York Magazine and others. Many reviews pointed to the album's Roaring '20s lyrical imagery and the group's energetic, crowd-pleasing live shows, which often display the group's flair for the spontaneous and the dramatic.
Singer Stephen Patterson plunks a Helpinstill piano onstage, while as many as three drummers simultaneously bring the ruckus. "We're good at feeding off one another live," Russell says. "Over the course of touring on Fort Nightly, we learned to play with one another really well. We learned to play as a unit."
Part of the chemistry between the group's six members (whose ages range from 23 to 30) comes from them writing all their songs together. In recent weeks they have begun preparing tracks for their TBD release, which will feature entirely new songs and is due out early in 2009. At the moment they are in the process of shooting their first music video with an actual budget, for a Fort Nightly track called "While We Go Dancing."
The video was requested by music television stations in Germany, where they are set to tour in May, and are apparently fairly well-known. "A couple of the big-time music publications over there are saying we have one of the best records of the year," says Russell, "and the album is selling well."
Big in Germany? That sounds like more junior high wildest dreams stuff.
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