Underlined Passages’ core duo of Michael Nestor and Frank Corl (ex. Seldon Plan) are continuing a journey. They repre- sent a facet of Baltimore music that has had long, deep roots in the city’s rock scene: good, brainy indie rock (e.g., the Oranges Band) that never quite blew up like the electric neon or far avant garde of other city artists. Technically, their songs can seem deceptively sparse and simple. Underlined Passages aren’t splashy, highlighter fare of the neon tights set. These are songs like opening a window, with a sensation not unlike taking in a long, deep lungful of fresh air. The chords wash over you and you’re swimming in their warmth. Underlined Passages are in a confident place, finally comfort- able in their skin in both music and life. And you feel it from the first chord to the last fading note. We sat down with Underlined Passages to talk about their newest release, and to get to know the band a bit better – read on for more!
Entertwine: What led you to pursue a career in music?
Mike: That moment you realize you have no other choice but to do this, when the music finds you.
Chris : I wanted to be Michael Jackson when I was a kid. I just love music. I am in love with drums and bass and guitars, recording and playing shows.
Rich: Ha – I don’t think I could call it a career in music, but I do spend a lot of my time now involved with music and bands. It’s really the enjoyment of playing music with others. Individual practice is fun, and needed, but its playing with others that drives me. Creating new music together.
What experiences or life events have shaped your music?
Mike: The existential crisis we all have at or around the age of 14. In fact, I don’t think that crisis has yet to be averted, at least in my life!
Chris : Music has always been something that was mine. I would find myself during difficult times by writing and recording music.
Rich: I played upright bass as a kid playing classical orchestra in school, and then electric bass in a HS jazz band and with friends in college classic rock bands then kind of stopped playing for like 15 years while I did the work/career thing. Now I listen to mainly current/alt/indie music. So I guess a lifetime of different styles is what comes together when I play.
Who or what influences you to write or perform?
Mike: There is this song called “The Man” by Patto. Go listen to that and all will be revealed to you-you will understand the how and why underlying my music.
Chris : My internal need to express myself. I connect with people via music. It is how I most comfortably communicate.
Rich: From a bass perspective, I kind of like Death Cab, Incubus, Pearl Jam – a nice mellower groove going on. Some movement – but not tons of bass slapping and all that. I really am comfortable with the bass being a “support instrument” helping to tie the instruments together musically and not needing to shine or step out or solo. When I heard Mike’s songs for UNDERLINED PASSAGES I really liked the simplicity and cohesiveness of the whole sound.
What are some of the most exciting live performances you’ve been a part of?
Mike: Being in the audience at Lollapalooza ’94 and hearing “Mayonnaise” by The Smashing Pumpkins front row center. Then having Billy Corgan throw his pick into the audience and having it hit me in the shoulder and realizing we both used Tortex .88mm. Finally, having to get pulled over front fence as I was getting crushed by the audience and hearing them shout “fairy” (well it was another word) at me for not wanting to be trampled to death.
Chris : Traveling to Boston from Baltimore with Mike and our band-mates from Lowell, a band we were in from 99 to 2002. We played a little place called The Lizard Lounge, in support of a compilation album that we recorded a track for. It was so fun to be a part of that album and that show.
Rich: One of my bands played a show down in Fells Point in Baltimore at a smaller bar (the Waterfront Hotel). It wasn’t a huge club, but it was super packed – line out the door – and people started dancing when we played our sound check song. We knew it was going to be a fun night then. The crowd was really having a great time and there was lots of good energy all around that night. Super fun.
What is in store for you for the rest of 2015?
Mike: Trying to figure out how to release and support a CD and asking the audience to treat it like a whole record in the age of MP3’s and Spotify. You know, the easy stuff.
Chris : Aside from drumming with Underlined Passages, I will be writing and recording music for an unnamed (as of now) solo project where I write, play, sing, and engineer everything.
Rich: I’m really looking forward to getting out and playing shows together with these two guys! I think the live shows are going to be a blast to play. I’m also really looking forward to being a part of the second album and getting that underway probably early this fall.