Dig the Animals

Charleston City Paper | September 30, 2006
In a grand display of visual and aural expression, Charleston trio A Decent Animal celebrated the release of their six-song mini-album, The Rabbit Hole EP, this year with a multi-media art show/concert at hometown club Cumberland’s.

“We covered the walls on the day of the show,” says Richard Weld, guitarist and bassist. “Clint4 provided the background sounds for the opening and throughout the evening, along with music from Pyramid and us. The idea was to have about 10 new pieces of work from various local and regional artists that were all ‘inspired’ by the music on the CD."

Among the featured artists were Kevin Taylor, Chris Wyrick, Fumiha, Seth Cort, Adrienne Antonson, Julio Cotto, Johnny Pundt, and Kelly Brat — all of whom contributed paintings and drawings “inspired” by the music on the disc.

Weld and singer/guitarist Jonathan Nicholson — both longtime bandmates in local post-punk rock band Telegram — only recently solidified their current band’s lineup with the addition of drummer George Baerreis (formerly a bassist with the Georgia-based band Bain Mattox). All three musicians have always been original, uncompromising, and highly regarded in local critic circles.

N.C. musician Chris Walldorf (of the band Pyramid) is a self-trained sound engineer who began building a custom-made studio at his home in Charlotte a few years ago. He now calls the facility Sioux Sioux Studio (ha!). While Walldorf doesn’t work as a full-time engineer at the studio, he does get to pick and choose his sessions — one of which was A Decent Animal.

“Richard and Jonathan had done some recording already, but weren’t quite happy with the sounds as a duo,” says Walldorf of his session with A Decent Animal. “They asked me to play drums on a few songs. I thought it was going to be a pretty low-key, brushes type thing, but as we worked on the tunes, it evolved into a bigger, full drum kit situation.”

Weld and Nicholson only recently solidified their current band’s lineup with the addition of Baerreis. It’s a bold move ahead toward a fuller, more textured sound … and it’s not necessarily a “rock” sound, either.

Last spring, Telegram (Nicholson, Weld, singer-guitarist Eric Brantley, and drummer Mike Besta) released a five-song, self-titled EP recorded at Babylemonade Studios. It marked the beginning of a hiatus for the band, during which Weld took a paternity leave from his rock duties when he and his wife Amanda welcomed the arrival of their son Henry (the toddler is featured on the band’s web page as a “decent animal, himself”). The hiatus also marked the semi-official launch of A Decent Animal.

“When we started, it was mainly songs that were real simple,” says Weld. “We started doing the songs that Telegram probably would do — songs with more vocal harmonies and acoustic guitar parts. Really quiet, laid-back stuff. As we played and started to feel like a real band, we filled it out a little bit by bringing the electric bass in and more. We started considering recording with horns and organ and other instruments. Now, we have new songs that are ready to record that sound totally different from what we did a year ago. It’s different from anything Jonathan or I have ever done musically.”

Charleston City Paper

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