The sound


By Michael Swanger


PCC angles for long-term success starting with ‘Sad, Sour Future’


It’s hard enough being in a band without life interfering. In most cases, when musicians pursue a college education and a full-time day job, or get married and start a family, bands are doomed.

Poison Control Center (PCC), the longtime local indie-rock sensation, is no different in that as its members reach their 30s, life is pulling them in opposite directions. To complicate matters, PCC’s singer-songwriter-multiple-instrumentalists Patrick Fleming (Ames), Devin Frank (Columbia, Mo.), Joey Terry (Weaverville, N.C.) and Don Ephraim Curtis (Iowa City) live miles apart.

“Three years ago, we lived a few blocks away from each other in Ames and sometimes weeks would go by and we wouldn’t play or hang out to have a beer,” said Fleming, who turns 30 in August. “Once that closeness got pulled away from us when we got spread out, we realized it was a big part of our lives and we wanted to keep it that way.

“We always joke that when we’re 60 years old, instead of going to Canada to go fishing, we’ll go on tour or record an album.”

This summer, PCC is angling to embark on perhaps its most ambitious year yet as Frank has decided to put his graduate studies on hold to devote a full year to the band. On May 18, PCC will release “Sad Sour Future,” a double-album for Afternoon Records, a subsidiary of Warner Brothers Records. Next month, the band will rehearse additional new material before launching a national tour in June that begins in the Midwest and travels to New York and Los Angeles before taking a short break for Curtis’ wedding in September. After the tour, Fleming said the band plans to record another album in November before hitting the road again in January to fulfill its goal of performing 250 shows from June 2010 to June 2011.

“Hopefully, our bodies can handle it,” Fleming said. “We’ll probably need a new van.”

Though “Sad Sour Future” (the title is a play on words from Stereolab’s “Fab Four Suture” compilation) finds PCC performing its signature, savvy indie-rock (influenced by groups like the Beatles, Pavement and Guided by Voices) with as much energy and passion as ever, themes of change, friendship and aging can be found on songs like “Stay Golden,” “Cemetary Glow,” “Friends in the Band” and the first single/video, “Being Gone.”

“Thirty is staring me down,” Fleming said. But it has not defeated him.

It was Fleming who challenged his bandmates to start writing songs for “Sad Sour Future” during a three month creative period starting in February 2009 that netted 44 songs as band members traded musical ideas via e-mail.

“With four songwriters in the band, there is a lot of friendly competition, which is why I proposed that we try to write a song every day,” Fleming said. “Some were sketches, others were full-fledged songs with guitars and drums. We started to influence each other lyrically, so we scheduled a week at a studio and banged them out.”

In the past, Fleming noted, PCC would perform new songs live before recording them. He credits PCC’s loyal fan base for encouraging them.

“I feel like Iowa is its own scene and it feels good to know that if we have a show, our friends will come out and have a good time. I get more excited about playing the Vaudeville Mews or the Ames Progressive than I do New York City,” Fleming said.

Fleming added that when PCC plays the Mews this weekend, it will be playing some of the songs from “Sad Sour Future” live for the first time.

“To be putting together the puzzle in the studio was new for us,” said Fleming. “But we had a good blueprint and we’re a democratic band in that we want everybody’s input, which is why all our songs are written by PCC and not one person. For us, it’s always been about being a band.” CV


caption: Poison Control Center hosts its CD release party on Friday, April 30 at 7:15 p.m. Christopher the Conquered, The Mynabirds, Wolves in the Attic and Derek Lambert share the bill. Admission is $5.


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