Synthetic Elements shed their shirts

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:: Synthetic Elements :: Hodi’s Half Note :: April 24 ::
:: KBPI Uncle Nasty’s Show :: April 26 ::
:: The Marquis Theater :: April 28 :: 

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By Tiffany Childs

If appreciating other styles of music is what makes a band good, then Synthetic Elements has the potential to be one of the best bands around.

Formed in 2001, this punk-ska band began on a snowy day when two of the original members were forced to stay indoors. They picked up some instruments in a garage and, as an afterthought, invited a few friends over. The quintet began to reproduce their favorite artists’ songs. Six years later, Synthetic Elements has cited influences ranging from classic rock to country to heavy metal (they even mentioned Journey) and their self-taught musical training since that cold winter day has been extensive, to say the least.

It has also been a musical career that has been moving at a sprint since the beginning. Signed to play a show before any members really knew their instruments, the band has been pressed to take each step further and faster than usual. With five independently recorded and released albums in as many years, as well as the majority of those years spent on tour, you have to wonder how Synthetic Elements finds the time to do it all.

It’s a candid, do-it-yourself attitude that seems to have pushed Synthetic Elements to this musical dedication that is rarely seen in a band so young. Coming off of a two-year tour for a well needed rest, Synthetic Elements returned to Denver last summer to write and record their fifth release in their privately owned studio. The Marquee recently had the pleasure of speaking with Mike Blecha (trumpet, guitar, keyboard, vocals) and Kyle Hernandez (bass guitar) about how their dedication and influences will be reflected in their upcoming CD release, Shirt off My Back.

During the tour, the band lost a trombone player and this album definitely reflects that change. Horns are a traditional staple of punk-ska and Synthetic Elements found themselves in unfamiliar territory. “We kind of had to scramble to find new ways to play our music,” Blecha said of the loss. Hernandez added, “We also lost some of our ska feel because we didn’t have the horns. So, when we were writing our new stuff it was a little edgier than in the past.”

Edgy certainly defines some of the music found on Shirt off My Back, but there are also some reggae tunes and with the addition of a new trombone/accordion/washboard player – Johnson (no other name would be given) – their traditional ska sound has returned for a few songs as well.

For the new album, Synthetic Elements also invited in outside talent — a first for the band. They decided early on to work with L.A.’s Chris Murray, formerly of King Apparatus. Considered one of ska’s most influential songwriters, Murray helped Synthetic Elements focus on their lyrics rather than just the music this time around, as well as providing the underlying reggae influence. “This album is definitely more lyrically driven than anything we’ve done in the past,” Blecha said.

 

:: Synthetic Elements ::

:: Hodi’s Half Note :: April 24 ::

:: KBPI Uncle Nasty’s Show :: April 26 ::

:: The Marquis Theater :: April 28 ::

 

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