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1/20/2010

Music

The Tenant’s union
Brad Register on the joys of a fresh start
Photo by Nicole Kibert

 

Parafora Presents 3-Year
Anniversary Party
with the Tenant, Monotonix,
Surfer Blood, Basements of Florida,
Yip-Yip, Waxfang
8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 26
Back Booth
407-999-2570
www.backbooth.com
$8-$10

Though the Tenant represents a new point on the musical map, a long and trying road was traveled to get there. Prior to enlisting bassist Dave Kazyk, keyboardist Travis Reed and drummer Chandler Strang to form the Austin-Orlando indie-pop quartet, bandleader Brad Register had already endured the crucible of being in a near-breakout act with Summerbirds in the Cellar. With major league accolades and heavyweight supporters, he got closer to the promised land than most ever will, but legal problems and band discord became Register’s emotional prison.

But from those stormy clouds, one of the Southeast’s most notable songwriters now re-emerges with a svelte new musical vehicle beaming with clarity and lightness. Throughout their new EP (Is Listening) and 7-inch single (“Visitors”) releases on Tampa-based New Granada Records, Register’s distinctive melodic signatures are drawn in crisper, more flowing profiles. But what coasts by on deceptively carefree ’60s pop breezes is actually the sound of profound personal liberation.

“These songs, I love them,” says Register. “There’s more freedom in the band, working alone or with Dave. To me, they’re just pop songs. I think that’s a huge blanket of music but, in that way, it might never get boring.”

The fluid contouring is more than just a stylistic reboot; it’s reflective of a shift in outlook.

“We’ve taken a more realistic approach to the songwriting in that we don’t overthink it,” says Register. “We were always doing that in Summerbirds in order to try to keep ourselves interested in the songs. We got back together to write and we each wanted something different from the song. I think we forgot how to write together.”

At 31, Register already speaks with the sober wisdom of a veteran who’s been down the road.

“For me, and probably for [local veteran and former Wellville member] Dave as well, we’ve been doing it for a long time. With Summerbirds, we put a lot of eggs into the basket. We worked really hard and nothing seemed to happen right and that caused a lot of frustration and a lot of bad tempers because we were all expecting something that never really happened. I think that had a pretty big part in why that band dissolved. Dave and I, we think if we put a little bit less expectation on [the Tenant] and work equally as hard on it then we’ll be happier in the long run with whatever the band manages to accomplish. We’re not going into the studio and sitting down to record with the specific intent of getting signed and going on to some big opening slot and then moving on, you know? It’s not that anymore.”

Currently, the Tenant operates long- distance. While the rest of the band remains in Orlando, Register relocated to Austin, where he manages the bar at Barbarella, a new club opened by the owners of local nightlife institution Independent Bar.

“What’s ended up happening is that we’re writing separately, which might sound like a bad thing but it seems to be turning out to be a really good thing,” says Register of their creative process. “It’s something I’ve never tried before, but it’s turning out to be pretty cool. It’s more hitting ideas back and forth than sitting down and trying to get water from a rock.”

For Register, a new dawn means a new perspective. “I want to make more constructive decisions than just ‘Throw it all in the van and go,’” he says. “In this day and age, I don’t think that’s the only way to make it work. We put together a really rigorous writing and recording schedule and then a pretty impressive touring schedule for this year.”

But amid all the talk of the future, it’s the present that beckons Register back home to Orlando, a city that holds him tightly and claims him proudly. The Tenant is playing Parafora Music’s star-studded three-year anniversary party, and the local ties run deep.

“It’s old friends supporting one another,” he says of the event. “Of course, we were going to do it for [Parafora’s] Chris Anderson. He works so hard. I’d do anything to help that guy. Besides, we know those guys from Surfer Blood pretty well. We’ve also known those guys from Monotonix for a long time. That night is going to be amazing.”

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