On Stage: Closeness finally comes together

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By Denny Dyroff, Entertainment Editor, The Times


Orenda Fink and her husband Todd Fink has been making music for a long time. Todd Fink is most known as the singer/writer for The Faint. Orenda Fink has built a legion of fans as a member of Azure Ray and her work with Moby, Isaac Brock, Bright Eyes, Delerium, and Sparklehorse.

After more than a decade-and-a-half of being together, they finally decided to form a band together.

That band, which is aptly called Closeness, is headlining a show on November 27 at Johnny Brenda’s (1201 North Frankford Avenue, Philadelphia, 215-739-9684, www.johnnybrendas.com).

Together they make slow haunting electronic pop songs influenced by The Knife, Lydia Ainsworth, Pink Floyd as well as their work in Azure Ray and The Faint. The music made by Closeness is described as “shadowy southern gothic sound.” Todd’s high-energy, cool and synthetic voice lifts and energizes Orenda’s mystical and warm-hearted aura.

“We’ve bene together for 16 years,” said Orenda Fink, during a phone interview last week from the couple’s home in Omaha, Nebraska. “We met on tour, dated three years and got married.

“A few years ago, we said — why don’t we make music together if we’re this close. In 2016 was when we really started getting serious about it.”

The first recording by Closeness was its “Personality Therapy” EP which was released March 2017 on Graveface Records.

“We started writing and recording in 2016 and it was released last year,” said Orenda. “We just released one video for ‘End of the Maze.’

“We recorded the EP at our house. It’s Todd’s studio so it has a lot of keyboards. Half the gear there is analog, and half is digital. From the first track to mixing it took six or seven months.

“It took a long time trying to figure out our sound together. It took a little longer than we expected. Some of our influences for the EP were Jean-Michel Jarre, Pink Floyd and a variety of dark electronic music.

“With our songwriting, usually Todd comes up with a melodic skeleton. Then, I’ll bring the chords and then the words to complete the song.”

Having their own studio allowed the Finks to enjoy the luxury of time.

“Some songs, we recorded several different times – changing the sonic palette and figuring out how they would sound live,” said Orenda. “We knew that we wanted to tour with just the two of us, so the songs had to be able to work in a live setting. Some of the sounds on the album came out of that limitation.

“In our live show on this tour, we’re playing all but one of the songs on the EP along with a few new ones. After this tour, we’re going to be working on a new EP. We’ve been writing a bunch of new songs.”

Video link for Closeness – https://youtu.be/BQ89AVP9-PQ.

The show at Johnny Brenda’s, which also features Har Mar Superstar & Sabrina Ellis, will start at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Walking Papers

Jeff Angell has been a fixture in the Seattle/Tacoma music scene for a long time and has been a key member of several top-flight bands from the Pacific Northwest.

Currently, Angell is focusing on his latest band – Walking Papers. On November 27, Walking Papers will visit the area to share a bill with Myles Kennedy at The Queen (500 North Market Street, Wilmington, 202-730-3331, www.thequeenwilmington.com).

There are two almost-simultaneous incarnations of Walking Papers.

The band features singer/songwriter Angell, keyboardist/backing vocalist Benjamin Anderson, bassist Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, Loaded), and drummer Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season). Because of previous commitments, McKagan and Martin are not with the band on this tour. Instead, Angell and Anderson will be joined by fellow Seattle musicians Tristan Hart Pierce (guitar), Dan Spalding (bass, upright bass and baritone saxophone), Will Andrews (drums), and Gregor Lothian (saxophone).

Angell and Anderson were bandmates in The Missionary Position. Prior to that, Angell was the founder of the Seattle band Post Stardom Depression.

“For a while, both Walking Papers and the Missionary Position were running simultaneously,” said Angell, during a phone interview Monday afternoon from a tour stop in Brooklyn, New York.

In 2012, Angell recorded an album with Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees, Mad Season). The album also features songs with McKagan and Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready. The new line-up, called Walking Papers, released its eponymous album with Sunyata Records in August 2013.

“I had extra songs and needed somewhere to put the songs,” said Angell. “The Missionary Position was on a show that Barrett was on. Barrett told me that he had some studio time. I went in with him and we laid down some songs. We were just having fun. Ben came in and so did Duff.

“We never expected those guys to stick around. When the record came out in 2013, we had an album and needed a band. Duff was available.

“We toured Europe eight times. We toured with Aerosmith and Biffy Clyro. And, we toured the states with Jane’s Addiction and Alice in Chains.”

“WP2,” the band’s sophomore album was released on January 19, 2018.

“We recorded ‘WP2’ in 2015 and then it got put on hold for a while,” said Angell. “It sat for a while. While waiting, Ben and I made another record with a project called Staticland. We toured with that album a lot too.”

“’WP2,’ which was released on Loud & Proud Records, featured production by mix masters Jack Endino (Soundgarden, Nirvana, Mudhoney) and Martin Feveyear (Mark Lanegan, Kings of Leon, Queens of the Stone Age), and mastering by Chris Hanzsek. Angell is the band’s primary songwriter.

“I’ve got no real use to write happy songs,” said Angell. “People like to see people other than themselves struggle. That’s humanity. We live our lives vicariously.”

Walking Papers will serve up a variety of songs from both albums in its live show at The Queen.

“Our live set changes every day,” said Angell. “We mix it up and keep it working. We have 30 songs we can play – songs from both Walking Papers albums. And, Ben and I do play some songs from The Missionary Position.”

Video link for Waking Papers – https://youtu.be/vl40vpUmJcs.

The show at The Queen, which also features Myles Kennedy, will start at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $22.50.

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