As the MKE music scene continues to grow, it seems artists continue to pick a cohesive genre. Each band obviously making it their own, but readily able to be categorized. It is rare to see a group take on multiple elements and throw the listener for a loop. Meet Parallel; a five-piece, female fronted, cello-backed amalgam of talent, churning out sounds that beckon familiarities across multiple genres. From classical, to punk, to folk, they try to create a unique sound that keeps you guessing.
"Vagabond" was the our favorite track from their new EP "Between The Lines", which you can stream below. We also got to chat with cello player, Thea Vorass, to get an insight into the inner-workings of Parallel.
MM: How are you doing outside of music? How is life?
PL: Many of us in the band have had a rough couple of years personally (life changes, family deaths, etc.) but the one constant we have is each other. All of us agree our bond as band mates is like no other -- and it often gets recognized/commented on by concert goers.
MM: Can you tell us how Parallel came to be? And what's the meaning behind the name?
PL: After playing in another project together, our singer Meredith and our drummer Rick decided to form a new band together. The idea was to play a mix of unexpected or out of the box covers and originals. One of our most popular covers is "Walk" by Foo Fighters. No one expects to see a band with cello, piano, and female fronted vocals pull off a song in this genre but we love the challenge, and want to twist the song to make it our own. Very early on, the band liked the name Parallel, but we put it aside due to the fact that it was hard to find a website URL and we were afraid it would not stand out enough. After many versions and strange looks from family and friends on our other ideas gone wrong (i.e. Shadow Slant, Green Fancy), Parallel stuck. We like to think it represents our original idea of taking those cover songs and making "parallel" version.
MM: Cello is a gorgeous instrument that often get's no attention in modern music. Where did the decision come from to put it up front in your songs/on the record?
PL: After many, many, MANY failed attempts at finding a bass player (oh the stories of auditions gone wrong we could tell you...), Rick and Meredith thought a cello would compliment her emotive vocals and writing style. Oddly enough, Meredith and I went to college together. We knew of each other at the time but did not reconnect until Meredith reached out to her friend Loni (my stand partner in college orchestra) that we got reacquainted. My style is a variety of melodic lines, supportive bass tones, or driving rhythms. I definitely believe that cello doesn't need to be played on every single note of every song... it needs to add something important to the song.
MM: There are definitely a lot of different genres coming together in your music, from classical instrumentation melodies, to hard hitting rock progressions. Is there one person that write's the songs for Parallel, or is it a group effort? And how do all the different styles come together into a finished product for you?
PL: All of us have very eclectic music styles (from classical to punk to female folksy pop artists like Sarah McLaughlan & Ani DiFranco) and experience playing in other projects with varying styles (blues, rock, & alt-country to name a few). Meredith often comes up with an idea for a song - chord progression and ideas for vocal lines. She brings these ideas to the group and we all work on it together to transform these ideas into Parallel songs. We like to play what sounds right and don't worry too much about writing in a particular style. What makes us unique is the diversity of genres and instrumentation of our songs.
MM: Is there a general theme behind the lyrics of "Between The Lines"? Any stories behind a song on the EP?
PL: 'Between the Lines' is a collection of songs Meredith has written from college days to now. All are written around personal experiences (love, loss, personal struggles, moving on, etc.). Vagabond is the newest song on the album. Meredith wrote this song about feeling like she would never settle down, but rather be a vagabond the rest of her life, right before meeting her now, fiance.
MM: Something you want the world to know.
PL: We love doing our own thing. We play mostly originals. We play some covers. Milwaukee sometimes has some stigmas to that - they are not sure if they should consider us a cover band or an original band. We just play what feels right and love doing it together.
MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in MKE?
PL: As music lovers, we all are obsessed with music and love to go out and support our friends who play, see new bands, and be immersed in the music scene. Favorite venue to play: Linneman's, Art Bar, and any place on a patio in summer; Favorite festivals to play: Summerfest & Bastile Days; Favorite venue to see shows: Riverside,Turner Hall, & Backroom at Collectivo.