While the name The Glance suggests some element of speed, songs actually tend to come together painfully slow for the local folk-rock quintet.
“I started writing ‘Keep Your Mood from Changing’ [the first song on the band’s recently released debut full-length, Virtue, Vice, Grace & Sin] in 2009, and we didn’t finish it until late in 2011,” said singer/guitarist Travis Bunner, 28, who brings the band to Brother’s Drake for a concert on Thursday, Dec. 5.
Even after songs are recorded they’re not necessarily finished, and it’s not unusual for a tune to go through three or four different geneses. One track, “Imperial Rescue,” started as a howling, prog-rock monster, was recorded as a pretty acoustic ballad and is now performed as a strutting reggae tune — the sonic equivalent of a college student tearing down a Rush 2112 dorm room poster and eventually replacing it with that one of Bob Marley smoking a monster joint.
It makes sense then that Bunner cites a diverse array of musical influences for the band, including Alison Kraus, Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, John Prine, Porcupine Tree, The Beatles and Cake, among others.
“The first few years I was in bands I think I tried to emulate a whole lot of different people,” said the frontman, who was born to a librarian mother and a pastor father. “With this band the whole idea was, ‘Eh, forget it, let’s do what we do and see how it sounds.’ We just play and try not to worry about sounding like anyone.”
Lyrically, the songs have similarly diverse roots. Roughly half the tunes are personal, born of Bunner’s 2009 relocation from Indianapolis to Columbus (“There were all these changes, like having this new place and new environment and new friends; it was difficult in the beginning,” he said). The other half are more politically charged, inspired by the 1960s anti-establishment folk movement and the frontman’s time in graduate school, where he studied political science. As such, songs swing between introspective laments like “Empty Town” (about feeling out-of-place in a new city) and political thrillers like “Spies!,” a frenetic cut that plays like a commentary on the ongoing NSA wiretapping scandal.
“I’d always been interested in revolution and leftist politics in general, and so a lot of the songs are written with that revolutionary spirit,” Bunner said. “I try to use songwriting as a catharsis for myself. It’s getting out the things I wouldn’t say in everyday life.”
Photo by Meghan Ralston