Locals: Connections keep it short and sweet

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From the October 10, 2013 edition

Connections guitarist/songwriter Andy Hampel embraces brevity in nearly everything he does.

The band’s songs rarely stretch beyond two minutes — a limited attention span that extends from Hampel’s choice of reading material (he prefers magazine articles to short stories or novels) to his demeanor in interviews. In conversation, as on record, he rarely belabors a point.

“I get crazy when I hear a good song … and then it’s like, ‘Oh s---. They’re going to do another verse and another chorus now? Why? We got the point already,’” he said. “Maybe some people are so happy they came up with a melody they want to keep it going, but I don’t know why. I can’t wrap my head around it. When we hit a three minute song I feel like we’re pushing it.”

As the band puts it on “2 Makes 2,” one of the many melodic, pop-rock burners off the just-released Body Language, “You talk too much.”

Though Connections has only been in existence for the last 18 months or so, its roots actually stretch back decades. Hampel, 37, and singer Kevin Elliott were longtime mates in 84 Nash, a group they cofounded while still in high school, and the other band members logged time in a host of local favorites, including Times New Viking, Andrew Graham & Swarming Branch and El Jesus de Magico.

The quintet’s existence still comes as a surprise to Hampel, who had all but given up music after 84 Nash called it quits, saying, “For whatever reason I was bored with it.”

“In the four years after 84 Nash [split] we didn’t even talk, really,” he continued. ““I was sure I was done.”

This all changed roughly three years ago when Hampel received a guitar as a gift from a family member — the first in a series of dominos that eventually led to recording sessions for Connections’ debut Private Airplane, which came out earlier this year. It’s a momentum that has continued unabated, with a second full-length already out and a new EP in the works for year’s end.

“We were less focused in 84 Nash,” said Hampel of his newfound productivity. “A new record is out and we’re working on songs for the third and fourth [albums]. Those are the fun ones to play instead of it being the same eight songs every night.”

Photo by Meghan Ralston