The second act of a musician’s career can sometimes be more absorbing than the first—with Davey von Bohlen and his Maritime project, that may be just the case.
The former leader of the endlessly influential and genre-altering emo-pop outfit The Promise Ring—who reunited for one last show, memorable and joyous, at last fall’s Flower 15 celebration—molded Maritime with himself, Promise Ring drummer Dan Didier and the inventive ex-Dismemberment Plan bassist Eric Axelson. The union was engrossing, as the band released its debut, “Glass Floor,” in 2004, but not until April’s “We, The Vehicles,” on Flameshovel, has Maritime reached its potential. The near-perfect record of crystallized pop gems, led by tracks “Calm” and “Tearing Up the Oxygen,” two of von Bohlen’s best-written songs, makes use of his always-strained, lispy voice and Axelson’s angular bass lines.
“I know that I’m better, more experienced,” says von Bohlen of the way he believes he’s changed as a songwriter since his Promise Ring reign. “I make less mistakes than I used to—that’s just the way I’ve evolved. But it’s kind of like standing too close to a painting. I live my life, have these experiences, and they undoubtedly change me.”
Changes indeed—with his personal life, von Bohlen has, in the last few years, become a father of two and, professionally, the band lost bassist Axelson just some months ago (Justin Klug took over duties). Does this add to any pressure to succeed with Maritime? “Any and all attention that I’ve received has been shocking in a way,” he says, “so I don’t think that there’s this pressure to continue to succeed. We would’ve felt that within the Promise Ring if we became an older band. New bands are like a new birth. I mean, it’s a new band. It seems to me that anyone with certain expectations just aren’t thinking it through.”
While von Bohlen insists that family is obviously first priority, his attitude towards being in a band hasn’t really changed. “I think the basic rudimentary goals are just to make the best songs that you can and evolve as a group and as individual musicians, and represent that with great albums,” he says. “Any band without those goals is just a waste of time.” (Tom Lynch)
Maritime plays July 13 at Schubas, 3159 North Southport, (773)525-2508, at 9pm.