Jed Davis has been playing with the members of Hanslick Rebellion — the four-piece garage-y punk band he first formed in Albany with bassist Mike Keaney in 1995 — in various permutations for the past two decades.
When the Rebellion broke up in 1997, Davis, the band’s co-founder, songwriter, keyboardist and vocalist, formed the electro-punk group Collider in New York City, where he lived for 15 years. Eventually every member of the Rebellion would also feature in that band.
By 2005, the Rebellion had re-formed in New York City and reissued its only recording, the live album “The Rebellion is Here,” and in 2007 the band released its first studio material with “The Deli of Life” EP. But as the band began work on a follow-up EP in 2010, Davis moved back to Albany. He hopes the new six-song EP will be finally released later this year, but it’s already been almost three years in the making — and that’s got Davis worrying a little about the band’s future.
The Hanslick Rebellion
with Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned
When: 8 p.m. Friday
Where: Valentine’s, 17 New Scotland Ave., Albany
How Much: $7
More Info: 432-6572, www.valentinesalbany.com
For the present, the band plays Valentine’s on Friday.
“Hanslick Rebellion now — the band is in a moment; the band is in a situation,” Davis said recently from Hudson River Coffee House in Albany.
“At any minute, everyone in the band could decide that we want to do something else better — we’d rather be doing something else, I should say. The guys — Mike and Alex [Dubovay, guitar] and Joe [Abba, drums, who replaced original drummer Mike Kearns] — they could decide that they like being parents so much that they don’t get as much satisfaction from playing music as they do from playing with their kids or something. And at that point the band could be over, and that’s on my mind — it may not be on theirs, but it’s on mine.”
This gloomy outlook seems to have penetrated the band’s new music, with songs such as Keaney’s “Thanks For the Rope” and the first single “Dear Friends and Gentle Hearts,” released this week, tackling ideas of “moving on, getting over [it].” “They always say an album is like a love letter from a band to its fans — this is like a suicide note from a band to its fans,” Davis said.
But these difficulties don’t seem to manifest live as much as they do in the studio. With Davis in Albany and the band’s other three members in New York City, it’s difficult for the band to play many shows, but when they do — as they will at Valentine’s Friday night for WEXT, The Exit 97.7-FM’s fifth anniversary party — it all comes together.
“When we get asked to do something, the band is able to mobilize,” Davis said. “Like, we were asked to play this show — we can play the show. We’re gonna sound good; we’re going to be rehearsed, we’ve been rehearsing. And we’ll be great. I mean, we love to play together, and when we’re onstage it definitely shows — we have a great time.”
As the Rebellion was one of the first bands to be featured in WEXT’s “Local 518” programming, it makes sense for the band to play the fifth anniversary blowout. “We put out an album of new stuff in 2007, and Chris Wienk [WEXT’s evening DJ and music director] got in touch with me sort of out of the blue,” Davis said. “He’s so supportive of local music, so when I moved back [to Albany] ... he was really generous and supportive.”
Davis has big plans for the Rebellion’s future, even as he’s begun branching out with more solo work and other bands to fill in the gaps in time (unlike the rest of the Rebellion, Davis is not married with children). All of the drums and keyboards for the new EP, tentatively titled “God and Famous” after a quote from John Milton on a monument in New York City, are finished, along with most of the bass and guitar.
Initially, former Television guitarist Richard Lloyd — a big influence on the Rebellion, and Keaney, especially — was helping to produce the record, but the partnership didn’t work out as the band members had hoped. The EP is being finished without Lloyd — in fact, the band had to undo most of the changes he suggested to the songs.
“He had some very weird arrangement suggestions that just didn’t work,” Davis said. “He has an album that came out a couple years ago called ‘The Radiant Monkey,’ and it’s awesome, it’s so good. ... And he’s got a song on there, the last song on there is called ‘One For the Road,’ and we had a song that we were working on with him called ‘Thanks For the Rope.’ ... And I think that just because the song titles were so similar — our song title reminded him of his song, and so he started doing all these weird things.”
After the new EP is released, Davis plans to begin work once again on a 40-song musical he first began writing with Arturo Vega in 2000 entitled “Rise and Shine,” this time with the Rebellion. The initial sessions, done between 2000 and 2006, featured a cast of 15, including Keaney, C.J. Ramone of The Ramones, Dicky Barrett of Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Debbie Harry of Blondie and others — although not all of these performances are usable.
“The Rebellion songs were sort of fresher when we started doing the musical, and a lot of them just got not put in it, but adapted into it,” Davis said.
“There are things from songs that are on this disc [‘The Rebellion is Here’], in fact, that ended up being parts of other things in the musical. ... Since a lot of the material in it is Rebellion material or adaptations of Rebellion material, it seemed like a good idea for us to — especially since none of it had ever been done as a studio recording before, we only did it as a live album — it seemed like a good idea for us to do a recording of the musical, a studio recording, and make it a Rebellion record.”