The Curtain Society is: Roger Lavallee, Ron Mominee and Duncan Arsenault.
You could read through a bunch of hyphenated bullshit describing what neatly-bundled anti-scene sub-genre The Curtain Society wants to fit into. You could drown in a sea of dropped names of influences and wishful contemporaries. You could try to align them with their “up and coming” hometown scene.
We’re not trying to make life difficult for you, but none of this will make a difference because the only thing that matters is that you listen to the CD. Please press play and read on.
Every Corner of the Room is the long-awaited new CD from The Curtain Society. Taking their time to record, recharge and reinvent, they’ve expanded on their signature mesh of swirling guitars, gnashing rhythms and sometimes sad, but always sweet melodies and harmonies. Compared to earlier releases (Life is Long, Still [Bedazzled, 1996] and Inertia [Bedazzled. 1995]), the music is exponentially more confident, powerful and punchy.
The Curtain Society worked for several years, using different methods, different gear and different headspaces, often retracking, rearranging and reworking songs sometimes to realize they preferred the original demo version. Despite this, it’s safe to say that this is their most consistent and coherent release to date.
“After Life is Long, Still, we did a little re-assessing and felt that we needed to push ourselves to write the best songs that we could imagine,” says singer/guitarist Roger Lavallee. “This probably started with “Beautiful Song” which was written in the car on the way to a gig in Boston.”
“Roger basically told us the chord changes in the dressing room before we went on stage,” recalls bassist, Ron Mominee.
That song, and later, “Two Wonderful Stars,” and “Marigold Girl” became not only the nucleus of this new CD, but the standard to which they felt every new song had to live up to.
“Not that we didn’t feel that way about any of our earlier material,” says drummer, Duncan Arsenault. “We would never have released something that we didn’t feel strongly about, but after so many years, I think we really hit at the core of something great, and I might even say unique when we started working on those songs in particular.”
The period between the last full-length CD and the release of Every Corner of the Room might seem like an eternity to some bands. To The Curtain Society, it was time well spent.
“It’s not like we stopped working, or took an extended hiatus,” says Arsenault, who is much more than just “the drummer” for a rock band. He is a very talented multi-instrumentalist who is constantly exploring new music and adding spirit and color to The Curtain Society’s sound. “We may have slowed down the tour schedule a little, but we were still always playing, not to mention working in the studio.”
The band recorded in their semi-homebase of Tremolo Lounge, a recording studio where Roger Lavallee produces many other artists when The Curtain Society isn’t recording… “and it seems like we’re always recording,” says Mominee. “We’ve got tracks and tracks of snippets and ideas going back so far I don’t even recognize that it’s me playing on it!” he laughs. Arsenault continues, “that’s where a lot of the seeds of the songs get planted. On the new CD, I’d say a good majority of the songs on the new CD had their beginnings in one of our random musical brainstorms that didn’t seem like they were going anywhere at the time.” In fact, “Motorcycle Baby” existed for a year as an instrumental track under a working title until one day, a vocal track appeared on it.
Having a studio at ones fingertips can lead to endless tweaking resulting in challenging edits and rearrangements, leaving the band to actually learn how to play a song after it’s been recorded. On the other hand, songs like “Diver” and the title track, “Every Corner of the Room” are basically live takes, with very little added beyond that.
“One thing we’ve gotten better at over the years,” says Lavallee, “is being confident enough in the song itself, as well as our ability to convincingly play and sing it.” He adds, “we don’t need to add unnecessary stuff just to add things. If it doesn’t serve the song, we don’t need it.” This is probably a result of the many impromptu acoustic shows performed over the last few years in their hometown of Worcester, Mass. “There’s no feedback or distortion to hide behind when you’re just sitting there playing an acoustic guitar,” laughs Mominee.
At the other extreme, the band has grown as a powerful and raw rock band. They’ve even played as a backing band with legendary New York writer/poet/musician Jim Carroll. “That’s a totally different animal than playing in The Curtain Society,” says Lavallee. “I was really inspired by Jim’s book, The Basketball Diaries when I was first starting the band, back in high school, and I’d say Jim was a big influence on my lyrics.” The Curtain Society even covered Carroll’s “It’s Too Late” at their first show. “It’s a physical workout to play with Jim, for sure,” laughs Arsenault. “Most of his tempos are about twice as fast as Curtain Society songs.” The synergy within the band is the one thing that is constant. “It doesn’t really matter what we’re playing, at this point. We’re so locked into playing off of each other that we know we can always rely on that.”
With the release of Every Corner of the Room, the band plans to get back out and play the many cities that have been good to them in the past. “We made a lot of great friends when we toured with the other Bedazzled bands a few years back,” says Mominee, speaking of the “Caravan” tours The Curtain Society did with label-mates Mistle Thrush, An April March, Siddal and Viola Peacock. “We’ve been getting emails from people asking us to come back to this town or that town, so that makes us feel good. We’re definitely eager to get these new songs out there. It’s been a long time coming.”