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Say hello to ByBye
Posted May 27, 2014 by Rob Peoni

 

Winter was harsh in Indianapolis, a fact that’s easily forgotten given the mild, spring sunshine that culminated in one of the more beautiful Memorial Day weekends in recent memory. Record snowfalls, blustery winds, sub-zero temperatures, and the fleeting tease of sunlight proved physically and emotionally trying for most, but fruitful for some. The summer might be the season in which Hoosier farmers reap their reward, but winter is the time when local musicians sow the seeds that serve as the crops listeners so desperately crave.

 

One such band that spent the last six months carving out an identity in the proverbial woodshed is BYBYE. The band’s initial spark occured when producer and multi-instrumentalist David Wessel (Bon Savants) returned to his native Indianapolis after living more than a decade in Boston and Brooklyn. Shortly after moving home, Wessel reconnected with longtime friend and intermittent collaborator Marty Green.

 

“I’ve known Marty for a long time, close to 20 years,” Wessel said. “This is the first time in maybe 10 years that we’ve lived in the same city, but we’ve always made music together. So, when I moved back of course I reconnected with him.” Shortly after rekindling things with Green, Wessel crossed paths with guitarist Nick Peoni who was looking for a new project after a stint in Street Spirits. “With Nick, it was more like Dave and I were recording some stuff and he came over,” Green said. “When he laid down these guitar lines, they became essential.’”

 

“Nick’s style of guitar playing is very subtle,” Wessel said. “A lot of guitarists want to be up front and kind of slosh through it. I think the way Nick approaches guitar is a really good match, because there’s a grit there and there’s also atmosphere, which is really what I’m more interested in as far as creating soundscapes. We need atmosphere, texture, and frequency allocation and that’s what we all work on.”

 

 

BYBYE began as a recording project. “A lot of times we’ll start with a germ of an idea, and then we literally just pass it around,” Wessel said. “I kind of work as the engineer and the producer.” Green echoed him, saying, “Each song is a seed, and if we want to plant it then we can follow it.” Early on, Wessel reworked a song called “Happily.” It was a solo, acoustic sketch which Green had recorded to reel-to-reel around 14 years ago while living in California after leaving the oft-lauded Hoosier band Sardina.

 

“What I realized was that this song was just bass, guitar and vocals. So I put drums on it and remixed it,” Wessel said. “Also, I completely changed the arrangement and put in a little weird intro, cut it all up and dropped a bass in it. When I did that, it was just to show these guys that this is kinda the stuff we can do. I can take an acoustic guitar track, and make it this. So let’s do that.”

 

 

On the surface, BYBYE’s music isn’t wildly dissimilar to other producer-led projects. However, the band’s collaborative recording process is unique. The more typical approach finds a producer handling the entirety of the recordings individually and then bringing the songs to the band to flesh out for a live set. Instead, BYBYE builds together, utilizing Wessel’s writing and recording process, which Green and Peoni refer to as reverse-engineering. “I’ll track Nick playing a line and then I’ll take it and kind of squeeze it or manipulate it or I might take a part from another part and re-interpret it and then give it back,” Wessel said. “Then Nick will sit back down and rewrite the guitar line around [the reconstructed track]. So, at the end of the day, we are finished with a song that’s semi-mixed, semi-produced, and we wrote it in that same day or within a few days.”

 

“By reverse-engineering these songs, it’s almost like you teaching yourself,” Green said. “You record the whole thing, and then you go back and re-learn from yourself, only it’s filtered through Dave. It’s a little bizarre and it’s definitely challenging.”

 

Since BYBYE recorded constantly, it wasn’t long before the group was sitting on more material than they could manage. Thus began the process of whittling the songs down to a feasible live set, which was no small task given the group’s taste for toys. To fill out the rhythms, they tapped drummer Cody Davis (Bonesetters) who was actually on-hand at some of the group’s first jam sessions. The addition has appeared a perfect fit, with BYBYE’s original trio unanimously naming Davis the best musician of the group during a recent interview. The band's first show was held at Davis' house in Fountain Square early this spring.

 

Despite Wessel's role as the wizard behind the producer curtain, BYBYE comes across as democratic and devoid of ego when discussing the roles with the band's members. They're content to draw inspiration from anywhere, whether it's a riff that Peoni has been working on or a recording of Green's from a decade-and-a-half ago. Vocal duties are generally split between Green and Wessel, though about half of BYBYE's current catalog is instrumental. Wessel admits that in an ideal scenario, the line-up would feature a proper front person.

 

"I think we’re all pretty happy right now where we are with the songs and where we are with the live set," Wessel said. "Hopefully getting out there, networking, meeting more people, being more exposed, maybe somebody might rise up. We’re always open to work with people. Actually, as a producer I like to try to do that anyway. I'll bring in people to track on different things at any time."

 

Indy residents will have a pair of opportunities to catch BYBYE in the next several weeks. The first comes tomorrow at The Melody Inn alongside Vess Ruhtenberg, Caleb McCoach and Digital Dots. ByBye will also play as part of MFT's 10th Anniversary Party at White Rabbit Cabaret on June 21. Given Green's role in Sardina, the performance should serve as an excellent bridge between MFT's early users and the next generation of Hoosier music.

 

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