by Matthew Ström
It may come as no surprise to you that being successful in music takes hard work. What might surprise you, however, is just how many of your favorite local bands are putting in that hard work and just how successful they are poised to be. One such band is Humdrum, the weird-pop quintet with two records under their belt and much more to come. When I ran into Humdrum percussionist Mic Boshans — who also percusses for dance-fevered electro warriors Neé — behind the bar at his day job, he casually mentioned that his band was slated to spend a few days in the studio with none other than the ever-prolific Steve Albini. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, his rap sheet will: He was the engineer behind The Pixies’ Surfer Rosa, Nirvana’s In Utero, the entire discography of Big Black — a band he founded and fronted — and roughly 2,000 other records in the past 30 years. I was floored by Boshans’ modesty. While Albini is regarded highly for his willingness to work with any band that he deems “got the rock,” regardless of size, label, or monetary resources, spending time and money with the legendary engineer demonstrates a remarkable level of dedication. When I asked Boshans about Humdrum’s decision to seek Albini’s help, he explained:
Steve Albini is a big name for a reason: he’ll give us a really amazing-sounding recording that we can really do things with. It’ll make more people interested in seeing what we’re doing, because we’re taking our music seriously enough to take that step and record with Steve.
It is apparent in talking to Boshans that Humdrum’s goals are both ambitious and well-considered. Despite the limitations of operating independently from a label’s support (the drummer expressed his frustration at the band’s inability to “really do … justice [to] recordings because of time or money constraints”), Humdrum has successfully released two full-lengths flush with beautiful sounds, catchy hooks, and unpredictable twists. With their forthcoming release, though, the band aspires to push beyond their previous efforts with “a high-fidelity recording that’s hard-hitting, and an accurate representation of what we do live.” With Albini’s predilection for a no-frills, balls-out sound, Humdrum’s mission shouldn’t be hard to accomplish; how the band’s dense, experimentally-founded arrangements will match up with the producer’s straightforward and spare techniques, however, is considerably more uncertain.