Loop-based four-piece rock band Battles, often labeled as “math rock,” has been an experimental/indie-rock favorite since it released its song “Atlas,” which quickly gained popularity as the video blew up on YouTube.
Guitarist and vocalist Tyondai Braxton, who has a degree in music composition, started taking violin lessons at the age of three. He says of his earliest musical memory: “When I was in elementary school, I had to play clarinet in front of the school with this other girl. We were up on stage, and we were about to play, and she just freaked out… She ran screaming down the hall out of fear. And right then I understood—I knew the pressures of show business, and that’s when I realized what an exciting world, and what a dangerous world the music business is, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
The son of avant-garde jazz musician Anthony Braxton, Tyondai explains he was “raised to always question what people were saying was the absolute—especially when it comes to art—I mean art is such a subjective field where you can kind of create your own language, and my misconception when I was young was that a ‘real’ artist creates his art out of thin air. But that’s not the truth. The truth is that you come up with your own thing based on what you’ve learned, and you can you can choose to reject certain things, or you can choose to embrace certain things, but you need a foundation.”
Battles is almost impossible to categorize. Tyondai says they have not made a conscious effort to sound unlike other bands. “The formula for a band like this is the individual. Everybody in the band is very strong aesthetically and technically, and it is just a matter of finding a level playing field for all of us to feel like we are all musically and artistically fulfilled, and this is the kind of sound you get after tirelessly searching for the formula.”
The band just got back to the U.S. from a tour in the UK where Tyondai says they “did two TV shows over there, and we hung out with Crowded House and Michael Stipe from REM, and we got a chance to meet one of our heroes—Brian Eno.” (Hilary Rawk)
Battles plays along with Caribou, Born Ruffians and White Williams November 8 at Metro, 3730 North Clark, (773)549-0203. 9pm.