Similar to the beginnings of many bands, Republic of Lights has gone through some style shifts in its short existence while its members were searching for the right sound for the group. Also, like many bands, according to Alan Snider, the group’s singer and guitarist, what came first is better left in the past.
Last August, Snider-along with current members, Rosie Schubert on guitar, Greg Gaffud on keys and two members who are no longer with the group-were playing together as The Elegant Universe. According to Snider, the band was playing electronica music, in the vein of Daft Punk. “That was awful. We were really bad at playing dance music. I love Prince, but I just cannot be that guy. It came off as ingenuine and it was just wasn’t any fun.”
So the band regrouped, went through some member changes, adding Nick Hirka on drums and Andy Soukal on bass, changed its name to Republic of Lights, and sonically moved toward a sound that is more rooted in rock. “We’re just more comfortable that way,” says Snider. “We still have some electronic stuff, but trying to work solely within electronic confines is limiting.”
The reception has been much improved since the change as well. When describing the shows that the band played as The Elegant Universe, Snider says, “All of our friends sort of patted us on the back and smiled and then gradually went away from ever coming to see us again. Since we’ve started playing again [as Republic of Lights], it’s definitely a nice change of pace to see people enjoying themselves and telling you that they’re enjoying themselves and saying, ‘No, really, I mean it this time.'”
The band’s current EP, “Evening All Afternoon,” is, according to Snider, “sort of a patchwork EP.” He goes on to explain that two of the five songs were carried over from a four-song EP that the old band produced and the other three songs are new, written and recorded with the current lineup. “The EP we have now is nice because it shows some range, but it’s kind of a bummer because it’s not one idea in its entirety. It goes from indie rock to a little bit of a dance-grove thing to a jazz-swing-rock song or something. It’s like a band sampler opposed to a band statement.”
Republic of Lights is currently working on that cohesive statement, writing songs for an upcoming full-length release that the band hopes to record this August and independently release a short time after that. The three new songs on “Evening All Afternoon” were recorded with John Alvin of Stereophonic Studios. “He’s just phenomenal,” says Snider. “We’re big fans of the way he got drum and guitar sounds and he’s very knowledgeable about production.” (Todd Miller)
June 21 at Beat Kitchen, 2100 W. Belmont, (773)281-4444, 9pm. $8.