Previewing the new album of Milwaukee hard rock band, {ELSE}
by Mike Huberty
December 2019

Milwaukee's {ELSE}

Milwaukee's {ELSE}

Atmospheric soundscapes that ebb and flow into high-intensity dual guitar riffs and punctuated by plenty of staccato double-bass attack drum rhythms,  {ELSE} is Milwaukee’s answer to TOOL. The core of Jon Backus on bass and Michael Sinshack on drums hums and throbs underneath the melodic guitar lines of Kent Heberling and Nathan Paul. Shane Mattox sings and synths over the top to create a proggy hard rock sound with a touch of industrial reminiscent of the Deftones and Chevelle. {ELSE} is about to release their second album, an eight-song collection called *Through What We Knew* with a CD Release Party in Madison at Barley Pop LIVE (formerly The Frequency). Opening will be HELP DESK, MADE OF BLOCKS, and LINE OF OUTCASTS. I talked with the band collectively to get a little history of the group and what inspires them.

MI: How did you guys get all together?
ES: Three of us - Jon, Kent, Nate - ended up in middle school orchestra together, played in a rock band in high school, and have stayed active in music ever since. Shane didn’t start taking music seriously until later in life, practicing most of his singing in his car. Mike has been a life-long musician, studying composition at UWM, playing in musicals, and working at MusicNotes.com. We each joined the band at different times and for slightly different reasons, but we all were looking for a new creative chapter in life.

MI: Who are the bands that you gel on and love listening to together?
ES: A lot of alt rock, metal, and industrial - Nine Inch Nails, Ben Folds Five, Blur, Beck, Bush, and Metallica. We have a ton of overlapping favorites, but those that stick out are Linkin Park, Metallica, Muse, Tool, and Rammstein. You can hear a bit of all of those in our album.

MI: What would you recommend as the song to listen to for people who are listening to {ELSE} for the first time?
ES: Definitely “Everclear”, the first song on our new album. Shane wrote the lyrics towards the end of a 24-hour layover in Phoenix. He tried to stay productive the whole time, but exhaustion caught up with him and, ironically, finally put him a really creative place to write the lyrics. Musically, it’s a great representation of our style - it’s heavy, has effects, has breaks. In three and a half minutes it says who we are.

MI: What’s the story behind your band name and the little brackets?
ES: Both Kent and Nate, founders of the band, have always found names that start with the letter “E” alluring. Both computer programmers, someone suggested ELSE (like the programming concept), and it stuck. We toyed a bit with “if/else” and some variants, but preferred the shortened and less obvious reference. We chose to stylize it with the braces typical of many programming languages.

MI: Are there any particular themes that tie the new album. *Through What We Knew*, together?
ES: It’s about going from loss, to feeling broken, to questioning, to coping, to resolution. It’s about growth. *Through What We Knew* describes the journey we’ve all traveled, and how that journey passes through periods of loss, questioning, and growth thematic to the album

MI: What’s been your favorite show so far? What went down that made it so memorable?
ES: Oh, there are some memories! One that really stands was at the now-closed Down and Over in Milwaukee, sharing the stage with Lying Still, Ultrea, and Encryptor. Due to an equipment mix up, Nate had to drive back home, return late, catch up on beers, and play a set kind of ticked off and tipsy. Nevertheless, we still had a good time hanging out with the other bands and friends, staying out way too late, and even lost a jacket at some point. It was a great reminder of how fun the scene really can be, and how cathartic a great night out is.

MI: What’s gonna happen at the Barley Pop in Madison on December 13th?
ES: VOLUME, energy, hopefully some artistry, and some delicious craft drafts. The band has been so important to us - pushing us out of our comfort zones and forcing us to learn so much. We hope that comes through in our music, and hope to see as many friendly faces at our release party as possible! We’ll be offering a 2-CD + T-shirt package deal and playing with three other fantastic bands, so be there!

(1830) Page Views

{ELSE} Online:

CD: Through What We Knew