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 songs.
"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 Bar
Nov. 22; Minneapolis; 7th Street Entry
Nov. 23; Lawrence, KS; Replay Lounge
Nov. 24; St. Louis; Cicero's
Nov. 27; Cleveland; Euclid Tavern
Nov. 28; Toledo, OH; Carols
Nov. 30; Chicago; Lounge Ax