Live in the Clubs: Aficionado is back, features new sound

Aficionado is a very different band today from the one Nick Warchol formed under that name back in t
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Aficionado is a very different band today from the one Nick Warchol formed under that name back in the fall of 2004 at the College of Saint Rose.

In the intervening years, the Albany-based post-punk group has shed band members (including original bassist Eric Margan, who now fronts his own project, The Red Lions) and gone through a range of sounds. The band’s first self-released album, 2008’s Circus Music,” featured a massive lineup of 10 members.

Aficionado

opening for Whiskey and the Devil

With: Tiger Flower, Captain of Compliments, Decades

When: 8 p.m. Friday

Where: Putnam Den, 63A Putnam St., Saratoga Springs

How Much: $7

More Info: 584-8066, www.putnamden.com

“We did some weird, like, ‘Let’s be one of those big orchestral indie rock bands,’ ” Warchol said recently from a coffee shop in Albany. “And it was kind of just a step in the wrong direction; it deviated from what the original goal of the band was. We put out a record that was self-released, that none of us really like. I think we were just trying to be something that we weren’t, and we got carried away and got away from kind of the idea of what the whole band was.”

Falling apart

Things came to a head soon after at a show at The Knitting Factory in Brooklyn, a showcase for Capitol Records. The band’s many members were already beginning to drift apart before the performance.

“One of the kids, who was our bass player at the time, he didn’t really care at all,” Warchol said. “He was really drunk and high, and when we were playing he fell over. It was really bad — it was like a Brian Jonestown Massacre moment, and it was just like, we bombed. It was one of the worst shows we’ve ever played, and after that our band broke up, and it was it.”

The breakup didn’t last. Four or five months later, guitarist James Kehoe, an original member, pitched his bassist brother Chris Kehoe for the group. “Once he joined, our band was instantly functional again,” Warchol said.

The lineup now features Warchol, the Kehoe brothers, vocalist and flutist Laura Carrozza, guitarist and trumpeter Chris Tenerowicz, keyboardist Craig Dutra and drummer and founding member Mark O’Brien.

“When we got back together, it was like a different band,” Warchol said. “All of a sudden it was like, start from square one. We wrote all new songs, the sound was different.”

The streamlined band’s Don Fury-recorded demos attracted the attention of California-based label No Sleep Records, which released the demos along with new tracks as the EP “When it Comes to Creation” in October of 2010.

Back home

After a full year of national touring, including a stint at South By Southwest in the spring, the band is back home for the moment, and will be playing at the Putnam Den on Friday night, opening for Seattle rockers Whiskey and the Devil.

With a high-profile indie backing it and multiple national tours under its belt, Aficionado is preparing to up the ante even further in 2011 with a new full-length that will once again find the band further honing its sound. Demos of the new material showcase a further streamlining of the group’s more intricate orchestral elements, while keeping the raw punk energy and experimental attitude of such bands as Cursive and At the Drive In.

“Where the other one was overtly weird — it was like, look at us, we’re weird; we do wild things, our songs aren’t conventional, we play unconventional instruments,” Warchol said, “The newer record is more subtle, and it’s more just rock songs that are clever and that you might think about, and you can dissect. They have different layers to them — they’re not straight up, but they are a lot less overtly in-your-face weird than the other record is.”

The band will be recording the album with Criteria bassist and recording engineer A.J. Mogis at ARC Studios in Omaha. Originally the group planned to record with Seattle’s Jack Endino, known for recording Nirvana’s first album “Bleach.”

“It’s weird how easy it is to get into these big studios and do records,” Warchol said.

Full schedule

The band will be busy up until it comes time to record in the summer, touring down the East Coast and back to South By Southwest in the spring. Last year at South By Southwest, the band got on a number of unofficial shows thanks to the Austin-based band Zlam Dunk, which played a show with Aficionado in Boston. This year, the band will be involved with the official No Sleep showcase.

“[South By Southwest] is a weird thing, because it’s the epitome of the flooded market in music — too many bands, too many people playing music, too many people trying to get exposure and thinking that what they do is really important and that the world should care,” Warchol said.

“But what’s cool about it is that, if you are a band that has any sort of buzz about you, people will come out, because everybody who’s involved in the industry is all there at the same time, so people will all come.”

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