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Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Sense Field

If there was one band that I wish I could give more coverage in Post to, it's Sense Field. Their story is very interesting, but I just felt it wouldn't really fit with the overall flow of the book. So, here's a little description.

Sense Field was introduced to me via two college-looking guys who were in Best Buy one day. Since I usually showed people where popular hit albums were, when I saw two guys talking about Texas is the Reason's Do You Know Who You Are?, I had to talk to them. Somewhere in the conversation, one of the guys suggested Sense Field. He compared them to Sunny Day Real Estate and I was very interested.

During my second semester at TCU, my new friend Jeremy sang praises of the band's Part of the Deal EP. Since we had similar musical interests, I plunked down the eight or whatever bucks it was for the CD even though I hadn't heard a single song off of it. I really liked what I heard despite the fact that I thought Sense Field sounded nothing like SDRE.

Right away, Jon Bunch's voice grabbed me. It wasn't aggressive, but it wasn't wimpy; it was very calming. I later picked up their second proper full length, Building, and enjoyed it even more. Their music went between midtempo and fast post-hardcore, but it wasn't mathy at all. The next few years would find me slowly learning more about these guys.

At the time, the best form of free audio samples on the Internet was the Real Audio format. If you've ever heard Real Audio, you probably know it sounds like you're listening to a song through an aquarium in front of a wall. Yeah, well, that was the standard of the day. Trying to find any of Sense Field's earlier material was hard. I didn't have the kind of options that I have now with iTunes, MP3 blogs, CD-Rs and CD burners.

Just by chance, while I was living in Austin for a summer, I often hung out with my friends who worked at KVRX, UT's radio station. A copy of of Sense Field's self-titled CD (which combined their first two EPs) in their library and I gave it a listen. Though the material was much more stripped-down than their later material, the hook between Bunch's vocals and chiming guitars was there immediately.

The deal about the time period that I was getting into Sense Field (1998-2000), they were taking forever to record a new album. Though the band signed with Warner Bros. in 1997, they still had yet to release a new album (the Part of the Deal EP featured two songs on the forthcoming album). Various setbacks, from taking time off from the band to writing lots of songs to producer problems and replacing their drummer, kept pushing the new LP's release date back over and over again. Though promo copies were sent out to reviewers, the album, dubbed Sense Field first and then later dubbed Under the Radar, the album was never officially released. Sometime in 2001, Warner Bros. let them go from the label.

Luckily, the band had the right to re-record a number of songs that were going to be on their Warner's record. They reworked a couple of tracks (complete with new lyrics) and recorded some more songs. Released as Tonight and Forever in September 2001 on Nettwerk Records, the album was pretty awesome. I still think highly of the record, but trying to find other Sense Field fans was another hard search.

I had the pleasure of interviewing guitarist Chris Evenson for a radio interview around the time of its release and I totally geeked out. I played it on my show and was so proud of the band. Yet trying to find any other fans was only via the Internet. My friend Jeremy thought the new material sounded more like the Goo Goo Dolls than Sense Field of days past. Oh wells.

Jeremy and I had the pleasure of seeing Sense Field play with Hey Mercedes in 2003. I had waited a long time to see these guys play and they fully delivered. I was so into Hey Mercedes' forthcoming Loses Control and Sense Field's newest album, Living Outside, that I just went crazy up at the front of the stage. Both bands rocked hard and I had a blast during both sets. However, once Sense Field was done with their headlining slot, I realized that there was maybe twenty people left in the venue (it was packed when Hey Mercedes played). A few months later, Sense Field broke up.

Bunch would later cut one album with Further Seems Forever: the fantastic, Hide Nothing. Once again, Jeremy and I had the pleasure of seeing them play twice. Now that Further Seems Forever is finished, I have no idea what any of Sense Field's ex-members are doing.

If I wanted to resort to cliches, Sense Field was one of those bands that was ahead of their time. Getting their start on a mostly punk/hardcore label, Revelation Records, they were in the same kind of musical boat as their labelmates, Texas is the Reason: they had a great pop edge that wasn't cheeseball or stupid. They still rock.

1 comment:

Eric said...

Building is such a great great album. Nothing they did after that lived up to it for me.