Radio station: Listen to music by Distance to Empty
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Sound description: An upbeat indie rock-pop band with a frontman crooner. Think Harry Connick, Jr. backed by Incubus.
Similar to: Pete Yorn, Dave Matthews Band, Better Than Ezra, Guster.
|Distance to Empty||2004|
|Curtis Hayton||Guitar, Mandolin, Violin, Vocals|
|Bo McCall||Guitar, Vocals|
|Kyle Akers||Bass guitar, Vocals|
The Bottleneck, in Lawrence Kansas the club from which emerged Paw, Stick and Frogpond: host joint for Butthole Surfers, Burning Spear and Lucinda Williams in May 2002 was also the first stage for Distance to Empty, an upbeat indie rock band with a frontman crooner. Think Harry Connick, Jr. backed by Incubus, four Kansas natives with little in common but location and the sheer enjoyment of playing music.
*Curtis, a hair stylist with a fondness for Frank Sinatra, Liza Minelli and Maynard James Keenan. He's also the son of a preacher man.
*Bo, once frat boy and varsity collegiate rower who wrote the band's first songs between classes and surfing while an exchange student in Australia in 2001.
*Kyle, published poet and self-described computer geek torn between the technology of the information age and the music of the soul era.
*Ryan, a high school drumline teacher who spent five summers touring with an international drum and bugle corps. He cut his musical teeth on Squarepusher, Aphex Twin and Nirvana and can't really stand the "pop" crap the rest of the band listens to.
"Yeah, there are some different personalities in this group for sure. Ultimately, I think this is the source for a lot of the spark and creativity in the music," says Bo McCall, guitarist and one of D.T.E.'s three lyricists. "I think it really comes out when you're listening to the songs and watching the band perform live."
In the spring of 2004, the band released their first full-length album. One reviewer called the self-titled LP "hopelessly romantic, yet painfully bitter, full of adolescent definitions of love sung with a man's maturity." Over the course of their first two years the band played various small clubs around the Midwest. Strangely noteworthy gigs included a PGA golfer's house party, the Chevy End Zone Stage at a Kansas City Chiefs game and the VIP tent at a Coldplay/Rilo Kiley concert. Promoting themselves through online outlets, D.T.E. sold over 1,000 copies of their independently funded album, all accomplished while self-managing, self-booking and self-promoting.
With the debut album's success, Distance to Empty took a two-month break from their hectic touring schedule to work on new material. Recorded in a nine-day flurry and mastered by Grammy award winner Trevor Sadler (whose resume includes Live, Nine Inch Nails, Moby, Cracker and the Crash Test Dummies), Relaxcitement is an indie pop roller coaster ride crackling with dynamics, hooks, and a visceral energy hijacked from the band's live performances. "The goal was to keep the sound as pure and driving as possible on this one. It seems that a lot of modern albums are chock-full of digital edits and pitch correction. Nobody in this band wanted that over-produced sound. We wanted to capture raw energy," says Whitehouse.
Minutes after Relaxcitement was shipped to the manufacturer, D.T.E. jumped into the van, and ventured over 5,000 miles on their first international outing. In 5 weeks on the road, they performed 28 shows in 24 cities in the U.S. and Canada, and consumed over 50 boxes of pasta and 5 jars of crunchy peanut butter. "Ramen and peanut butter," Akers muses "are cornerstones of our nutrition program."
Upon their return to Lawrence, Distance to Empty ushered in the release of "Relaxcitement with a spot at the 2006 Wakarusa Music Festival, among the likes of The Flaming Lips, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Keller Williams, STS9, Robert Randolph and Les Claypool. D.T.E. is going into 2007 with a bang, having played more than 150 shows across North America over the course of 2006 and receiving airplay (charting Top #30 on multiple playlists in major markets including Chicago and Seattle) on over 115 college radio stations in the U.S. and Canada. Expect them to throw down in front of live audiences with the same conviction displayed on Relaxcitement. Energy, sweat, dancing and free Dum Dums are all part of the experience. "Ha," Curtis laughs, "people love the free Dum Dums."