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Fusion Bomb

These musicians are hard to pin down, but that’s how they like it.

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Perhaps the hardest thing about being a member of Dumb Waiter is trying to describe the band's sound.

"I sound like a douche bag when I try to," says guitarist Nick Crider. "It's like jazzy metal rock."

Saxophonist Tristan Brennis doesn't have a much better time of it.
"It's a marketing disaster," Brennis says. "I've found it's best to just approach it with a non sequitur. I've told people we're like a spilled cup of coffee."

Anyone familiar with Dumb Waiter's music knows the difficulty in explaining it. A typical song might have a dreamy melody abruptly chopped in half by a math-metal assault, or a jazzy sax part might morph into a ska-influenced rhythm.

It's all in a day's work for Dumb Waiter.

Formed in late 2012, the band embraces a wide range of genres. Drummer Nathaniel Roseberry's résumé is a prime example of the eclectic mix; before joining Dumb Waiter he played banjo and trumpet for world-folk group Lobo Marino, bass for math-metal band Jefferson Plane Crash and bass for grind-core band Street Pizza. He currently plays in grind-core band Burn Ward, and professes also to love jazz, reggae, blues and ska.

"For me, playing music in general is fun," Roseberry says. "And with Dumb Waiter there's no limits."
Usually, the band members create songs through improvisation until something clicks.

"It's just a sum of all parts," bassist Keith Paul says. "There's not one person writing by any means. Someone will bring a riff to the table and all these other dudes will rip it apart."

Musically, members are as carefree as they are adventurous.

"Sometimes it's tongue-in-cheek, it's silly, and sometimes it's brutal and very serious," Roseberry says. "It's kind of like wrapping emotions, musical genres, just aesthetics in general. We never set out to make music like this."

In January 2013, the band recorded its first album "Is This Chocolate?" with Dave Watkins at Gallery5. The seven-song album captures the band in all its progressive rock influenced glory. The recording process forced the band to nail down pieces that previously would change during each playing.

"When we went into the studio with Dave, I feel like that is when we learned our own songs," Roseberry says. "That's when we learned to play and be Dumb Waiter."

Earlier this year, members recorded a second album, tentatively titled "Cancel Christmas" because of an inside joke about not performing Christmas songs. Like the previous effort, Dumb Waiter recorded it with Dave Watkins at Gallery5.

"The quieter parts are quieter and the louder parts are louder than on 'Chocolate' for sure," Paul says. "It's more dynamic as a whole album."

The band hopes to have the album out on LP early next year. With this album, the band says they've stretched itself even further, embracing more elements of bluegrass, blues and jazz.

"We're constantly moving towards that juxtaposition between cacophony and harmony, and I like to think on this album we've got more of a contrast between the two," Brennis says.

Before the end of the interview, Roseberry takes another stab at describing their sound.

"It's kind of like fusion jazz metal," he says, "but then there's reggae and ska and now we're adding punk and hardcore."

However their music is defined, no one can say that Dumb Waiter sounds like anyone else. S

Dumb Waiter plays with Gull and Antiphons on Aug. 7 at Gallery5, 200 W. Marshall St. Doors open at 6:30. Free.

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