The Selfish Gene

Releasing new EP, 'What it sees, Where it sleeps'
by Mike Huberty
September 2010

The Selfish Gene at The Majestic Theatre, July 2010

The Selfish Gene at The Majestic Theatre, July 2010

Taking their name from famous evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkin’s 1976 book, Madison’s THE SELFISH GENE has been one of the city’s most ambitious bands since their inception in 2004. Now a three-piece rock/indie-pop unit consisting of Matt Allen on guitar and vocals, Eric Andraska on bass, and Rob Young on drums, their 2007 release, “The Grand Masquerade” garnered them national press attention as well as opening slots for bands as acclaimed and diverse as The Von Bondies and Bon Iver to Blue Oyster Cult and The Kings of Leon. In June, they released a new EP that moves their style into an acoustic direction called What It Sees, Where It Sleeps.

Allen explains why the change for the new recording. “In August 2009 we were prepping to go to the studio to record a new full length rock album” he says. “We were just about ready to book the studio time when our drummer blew out his back - 2 slipped discs. He couldn’t walk, let alone play the drums. The band had a couple immediate contractual obligations - one being a huge gig in Chicago. Rather than bail at the last minute, Eric and I went down there with an acoustic guitar and a tambourine. We did a two-man band set featuring some random songs that didn’t fit the niche of the new rock album. It was our Simon & Garfunkel moment. We played to a packed house at the Hideout and people really seemed to enjoy it. Click. We decided to go on with the recording process and just do 4 or 5 acoustic songs with lo-fi production and an overall DIY sound.”

And the EP’s title means something to the songs as well as to the recording as a whole ”’What it sees, Where it sleeps’ is a lyric from the fifth song, ‘I know, I know, I know, I know…’”, Allen explains. “The EP has two sides, the first being the three ‘singles’ and the back three being the ‘b-sides’. We were originally going to release three singles - one per month, each with a b-side - on our website for download only. Instead, we decided to release the whole thing at once… ‘What it sees, Where it sleeps’ is the stuff of dreams. What you see, when you sleep. Each of the songs plays like a random memory or fragment of a dream, not quite specific in meaning, but rather a collection of thoughts and images from one’s day, week, or lifetime.”

He recommends the first song on the EP as the one to listen to as an introduction to the band’s sound as well. “Listen to track 1 on the new EP:  ‘Follow Me Gone’. This is the only song that was always going to be on the EP, and therefore is the best representation of the band’s intent in making it.” Allen explains where the song came from as well. “It was written during the months when we were band-less. (They took a short hiatus in 2008 after on of the founding members decided to leave the band.) It’s a song about moving on and who cares whether anyone follows you because you’re gone. It’s a great re-introduction to the NEW Selfish Gene experience because it was the reset button. That was the first song out of the gate and we haven’t looked back. Follow us.” And for those interested in their electric side, he adds,  “Otherwise, you could listen to ‘Autopilot’ from our last album, ‘The Grand Masquerade’. That song is the perfect representation of the quick-n-catchy melody-driven sound that we’re moving forward with.” Both tracks are available on the band’s website, www.selfishgenemusic.com

The band is returning to the studio in October to work on their next full album for release in 2011, but in the meantime, you can see them next at The Crystal Corner on Saturday September 18th in Madison. They’ll be hosting a belated release party for the new EP. As Allen describes their live show, “With the new EP in tow, we’ve been starting off sets with a quick 3-song acoustic intro, then we quickly fly off the hook with the sweatier, faster songs that will be on the new album. You will hear lots of dual-vocal action with sexy harmonies that will get stuck in your head like sweet, sweet peanut butter.” And he ends with a classic rock and roll call to action, “Call in to Triple-M, WORT and WSUM and request your favorite song from the EP. They’ll play it! Support local music and radio!”

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CD: What It Sees, Where It Sleeps Record Label: Gene Pool Polutions

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