Pulsars Don’t Need Nobody Else

Boys having fun with keyboards.

Some boys get attached to their favorite baseball gloves, some to an
especially smokin’ bicycle, and then there’s the Trumfio brothers from the
Chicago band, the Pulsars. We’ve already told you all about their EP,
Submission to the Master
, a five-song homage to all things New Wave, but
have we mentioned their unnatural attachment to a certain, uh, inanimate friend
named Theodore aka T9000? As the story goes, the “third” Pulsar is old Teddy, a
keyboard the boys are quite attached to, so attached, in fact, that their
never-released first EP was an 11-song homage to Theodore and, for now, he’s
the only company they need on the road.

In an attempt to re-teach audiences
what generations of rockers have instructed them to expect, i.e., live players
plinking away at guitars and such, the duo are taking their naive pop
symphonies on the road, with singer Dave Trumfio playing guitar and brother
Harry handling drums and the machines doing the rest. “We put all the keyboard
parts on tape, plus a whole new extra set of guitar parts that don’t appear on
the record,” says Dave Trumfio, safe and sound between gigs at his Chicago
studio, King Size Sound Labs.

In other words, when you look up at the pair
and hear sheets of naive pop sound, rest assured that they’ve got some
behind-the-scenes help from their mechanical friend. In order to add an element
of unpredictability to what could very well be a paint-by-numbers show, Trumfio
says the band recorded the extra guitar lines with no effects and then run them
through an amp in the live show, where they always come out differently based
on the mix and amount of distortion they apply. You see, just like a real, live
band. ..

“We make lots of sound for two guys,” says Trumfio
happily, “which sometimes leads to baffled looks from the audience. But we’re a
duo, we always have been and we want people to think of us that way. We’ve been
a duo for a long time and that’s where the technology part of it really comes
through. That’s the beauty of keyboards, you can program them and manipulate
them in all these great ways that you can’t do with a guitar.”

As if to
prove his point, Trumfio ticks off a list of bands like OMD and Tears For Fears
that were essentially two-man synth bands that made it work. As for how they
keep it fresh each night when much of the music is pre-recorded, Trumfio says
the arrangements are the same, but his guitar parts are always different,
mainly because he thinks of himself as a “sloppy” guitarist at best and the
band has brought along a Chicago friend (Marc, the sound guy at Lounge Ax), who
finds a way to tweak the mix every night and emphasize different parts of

“Marc really changes the sound from night to night and eventually
we’re planning on adding some ambient-like segues between songs that will keep
things moving,” says Trumfio. Meanwhile the pair are busy mixing their
full-length debut which will be released on March 11 of next year, and, like
the EP, features some guest trumpet-playing from their boss at ALMO, Herb
Alpert. If you wanna check out the mechanical men live, try to catch them on
their next mini-tour:

Pulsars Tour Dates

Nov. 14; Philadelphia;
Pontiac Grille

Nov. 15; New York; Brownies

Nov. 16; Cambridge, MA; T.T.
The Bear’s

Nov. 20; Madison, WI; East End

Nov. 21; Milwaukee; Rave

Nov. 22; Minneapolis; 7th Street Entry

Nov. 23; Lawrence, KS;
Replay Lounge

Nov. 24; St. Louis; Cicero’s

Nov. 27; Cleveland; Euclid

Nov. 28; Toledo, OH; Carols

Nov. 30; Chicago; Lounge Ax

Servin' it hot and fresh since '99.