StereoFidelics are a four piece duo
WANT TO GO?
WHERE: The Empty Glass, 410 Elizabeth St.
WHEN: 10 p.m. Friday
TICKETS: $5 before 10:30 p.m., $7 after
INFO: 304-345-3914 or www.emptyglass.com
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's kind of a shame that Asheville, N.C.-based indie rockers The StereoFidelics don't get up to West Virginia all that much. The duo has plenty of reasons to.
"After about four years of touring, it's kind of weird that we don't," admitted guitarist, bassist and vocalist Chris Padgett. "The other half of the band, Melissa McGinley, was born and raised in Wheeling. She used to play in a pretty well-known West Virginia band, The Recipe, for a few years."
Padgett said he's not sure why they don't come up this way more. They'd like to, but it just hasn't worked out that way so far. That could be changing, though.
"We played the High Land Jam [in Elkins] this past summer," he said. "We also played a couple of times at the Purple Fiddle in Thomas and have even entertained some offers in Hurricane, but this show on Friday will be our first appearance in Charleston proper."
The StereoFidelics perform Friday night, along with local power duo Tofujitsu (Sean Richardson and Karen Allen), at The Empty Glass. Padgett promised the show won't be usual drum and guitar rock duo that most people expect.
"It's not just that we're a joy to listen to. It's also a lot of fun just to watch us play," he joked.
On stage, McGinley and Padgett play multiple instruments, usually at the same time. Padgett sings, plays guitar and manipulates a set of pedals with his feet that control a Moog synthesizer, which provides a bass line. McGinley sings, plays electric fiddle and somehow manages to work the drums.
"We don't use any loop pedals, no sequencing," Padgett said. "This is live."
Padgett said they tried performing with loops and sequencing but found it constricting and limiting. There was little room for improvisation, and sometimes performing with recorded segments on stage blew up in their faces.
"Playing all live is more exciting," he said. "We're pushing ourselves to our maximum capacity every show, and we're doing a lot more intricate stuff while remaining in the confines of music we'd like to listen to and what we think other people would enjoy, too."
Padgett described what he and McGinley do as splitting themselves into separate entities on stage. They force themselves to act as different parts of the same band, in essence turning the duo into a four-piece unit with everyone working in unison.
"The best part is there's never a time when I'm not on the same page as myself," he joked.
Padgett and McGinley both came from larger bands. McGinely was a member of The Recipe, which featured a lineup of at least six musicians. Padgett played in a variety of bands, including a rock band in Bloomington, Ind., when he attended Indiana University.
McGinley went there, too, but they almost didn't meet. McGinley was studying classical violin. Padgett was an environmental science/public affairs major.
"Our departments were in buildings on opposite ends of the campus," he said.
But Padgett's band was selected to record a track on a compilation CD. The studio was in the fine arts building where McGinley happened to be.
"My band was waiting out in the hall for the service elevator when Melissa came walking down the hall."
The two struck up a conversation, exchanged information and discovered they had a lot in common, including weariness with being in a full-sized rock outfit.
"We were both ready to try something different," he said.
At some point along the way, the duo also became a couple, which may be a good thing.
"We spend almost 24/7 together," Padgett said. But he explained that he was happy with that. It's good for the music.
"Of course, each of us will come up with our own songs and have our own complete musical ideas, but I think we both always have a stake in it. Melissa writes most of the lyrics, and I do a lot of the music, but when we come together, it's like we're really just one songwriter."
Reach Bill Lynch at email@example.com or 304-348-5195.