Friday, October 18, 2013

Buzz Worthy

The Commonwealth is keeping a blistering pace, cranking out three albums over the last two years. Their most recent release, Urban Soul (Cellar Door Records, $8), brings the band’s mellow, heady rock sound to an orchestral tipping point. It's a perfect primer listen before heading out to catch the band at a free Heights Music Hop concert at 7:30 p.m. tonight at Phoenix Coffee Co., followed by a Seafair performance at 9 p.m. The multi-band and multi-venue hop is one of the events that kicks off Cleveland Beer Week.

For Commonwealth drummer Nicholas Kuhar, local shows are where the band is most at home. “We definitely like intimate performances,” he says. “Similarly, playing a smaller room is always inviting because you can actually see the faces of people. We do enjoy playing those more intimate gatherings.” We spoke to Kuhar, who also plays percussion and piano, about what makes the Commonwealth tick.

CM: What role does Cleveland play in your music?

NK: Any metropolitan Midwest city has a lot of touchstones similar to Cleveland, so I think it’s about just experiencing adult life in a place like that. And trying to really, legitimately be an adult … trying to set up a life for yourself that’s real, where you’re trying to be good to people and you’re trying to make sense of some of the things in life. I think that’s what the album’s really speaking to.

CM: How is Urban Soul different from Emerald City Blues?

NK: The first song [of Emerald City Blues], “Ichabod,” there’s lyrics that reference like “This has been done to me”, not necessarily “You are to blame for this,” but it’s very much more looking outward and trying to identify where the is the problem. I think that might have been more the tenor of our first two records. Where as this one, I think the stories, or the lyrics, are just more interesting, more complex and 3-D when you talk about, “What am I doing that’s not completely functional?” [and] “How am I culpable in any of my conflicts?”

CM: Where do you want to go as a band?

NK: Artistically, we’re trying to push even more the orchestral elements of the band. We really respect bands like the National or Bon Iver where it’s like a tiny orchestra on stage. It’s like, wow. We’ve seen the National live twice, and they’re so incredibly powerful and rich and have so much dimension to them. That’s really where we want to be.

No comments: