By Tom Lynch
Married duo Rachel Shindelman and Nick Kraska, both from bands Bang! Bang! and New Black, formed their new band Post Honeymoon, fittingly, just after their honeymoon.
Kraska credits their friend Liam Kimball, of New Black, for the name. “He just said, ‘I can’t wait to hear this post-honeymoon band,'” Kraska says. “And it was like, oh my god, that’s it.”
The band’s self-titled debut record on Two Thumbs Down—the release of which is celebrated this week at Hideout—takes cues from Siouxsie Sioux and other dark, mysterious and brooding rock, with Kraska taking over duties on bass and drums and Shindelman on keyboards and the majority of vocals. That’s right, no guitars to be found anywhere here, but you don’t miss them. The shadowy, often gothic melodies inspire visions of old castles, candlelit, a flame flickering in an otherwise pitch-black corridor. A song like “Numbers,” with Shindelman’s vocal repeat of “Your end is my beginning,” sends chills; likewise, a moody pop song like “Little Messes” works with a similar effectiveness of Leonard Cohen’s “Everybody Knows.” It’s late-night music, indeed, some would say post-midnight.
Kraska and Shindelman discussed the idea of the band long before any notes were played. “I think we knew we both wanted to do stuff we’ve never done,” Shindelman says. “I wanted to do some singing, and Nick wanted to play some bass, and we wanted to do something that was more dynamic than anything we’ve ever done. We wanted to be able to [use] a different style, play a bit more slowly and softly, more sparsely I think, and focus on range. Really giving it a lot of space—you don’t really have the opportunity to play like that in rock bands.”
“We were swamped with the actual wedding,” Kraska says of the delay. “All that craziness took a good chunk of time out of our lives. I was still in Bang! Bang! and we were on tour, trying to be a band that was active, and we were planning a wedding… Also, while it existed in our heads, we would come home, and for a half hour at the end of the night, we’d talk about this. ‘Once all this craziness is done and we have more free time after the wedding, we’re gonna do this.'”
The two would often write separately, Kraska staying up late working on his parts and Shindelman waking up to find what he produced the night before. “I’m more of a night owl,” Kraska says, “and Rachel is [better] in the morning, so she’ll hit a point where she shuts down, and I’ll be like, ‘I’m just getting going,’ so I’ll sit there with headphones on and flush out an idea. Then I come to bed and I’m like, ‘I got this great idea,’ and she’s like, ‘Shut up, I’m sleeping.'”
They admit that they started fighting more once Post Honeymoon began writing material, but Kraska insists that they bicker more in practice than anywhere else. “I think the difference is that political correctness has gone away,” he says of being in a band with his wife. “If you’re friends, and some people you’re inevitably closer to than others, but the more close you are, the more you can shoot straight, depending on the relationship. In our case we’re so close, it’s no-holds-barred. There’s no sugar-coating of thoughts. If you don’t like something, you just say, ‘That’s wrong. It’s terrible. Just do it this way.'”
For Shindelman, it’s her first time singing in a band, and she was tense at in the beginning. “I didn’t know if I would be any good,” she says. “The last time I sang was in music school and it was incredibly unsuccessful. I took two vocal classes, and the professor in the music program told me, ‘You know, someone with a voice like yours can still be successful.'”
Live, Post Honeymoon plays with a drum machine and pre-programmed beats, to assist in giving the duo a fuller sound. Shindelman and Kraska say they don’t miss the guitars either. “It’s an interesting new challenge,” Kraska says. “Obviously we love guitar bands, but it was like, ‘How can we take what’s been done before and put our own spin on it, using our tools?’ And it’s a necessity, too, because I can’t play guitar. If I could we might have guitar songs.”
Post Honeymoon plays June 19 at Hideout, 1354 W. Wabansia, (773)227-4433, at 10pm. $8.