Just about one year ago my roommate stumbled upon a band called Infradig. I’m not exactly sure how.
He says it was on Archive.org, in the live music files. I still wonder what made him decide to check out a group with one show listed on the site and no prior knowledge of who they were. Looking back all I can say I’m thankful he did.
Hailing from the middle of Tennessee, the home to so much musical tradition, was this fusion of styles made up of Josh Green on drums, Carl Cadwell on keyboards, Dave Kaufmann on bass, and Bill Robinson on guitar. Influenced by Squarepusher, Herbie Hancock, and RJD2 they “employ standard instruments in non-standard ways.”
After a few thorough listens Infradig soared into our coveted catalog of beloved musical acts. Why? Because unlike most of the “underground” gangs around they had their own sound, which was hard to compare to anything. Like a cross between Medeski Martin & Wood and Sound Tribe that developed into, what can only be described as, the stuff Jesus would put in if he were throwing a party.
It was electronic madness & splendor similar to Aphex Twin or DJ Shadow but with one fundamental difference. These guys could play it live, a live IDM band as precise as the big boys of techno, how magnificent.
It was strange though. No one else seemed to be acquainted with the quartet. Almost as if we had found Angelina Jolie’s picture on Myspace and she had no friends, just waiting for someone to ask her out. Now of course in that situation I’d probably hog her for myself and keep it a secret. Music however, especially good tunes, are intended to be shared. So share them we did. And you can tell when you unearthed something great when every single person that hears it immediately becomes hooked. Infradig was crack for our ears. Even Bill O’Reilly could get down to them. My roommates and I must have gone through an entire package of blank CDs just burning that one live show.
On that recording it seemed as if there were less than 10 people in the audience. And that number is probably a bit generous. Why haven’t these guys blown up? Why do they have no following? Apparently my roommate was one of a small minority that had checked them out online. And at their lives show, in small bars, the crowd was either too drunk or too stupid to comprehend electro-funk-hop.
The scariest thing was that that one copy we had was Bill, the guitarist, first appearance with the group. It could only get better.
Seeing these underground musicians became top priority of the summer, our Aerosmith so to speak. And I thought it was going to be The Mars Volta. A bonus considering Volta tickets had to have been $30-$40 more expensive.
Infradig wasn’t playing anywhere nearby unfortunately. On to Bonnaroo, and The Mars Volta, it was then.
The festival ruled, as expected, and as we left on that muddy Sunday evening Infradig, not surprisingly, slipped into the car CD player. Now anyone who has been to the “Roo” is likely familiar with how wicked the traffic can get coming in our out. So for almost an hour we sputtered at a snails pace to the exit, with the windows down to combat the smell, and electro-funk-hop courtesy of the boys from Chattanooga blasting out.
Those sounds captured the attention of the mass of souls walking past on both sides and the hippies still manning their post on Shakedown Street.
“Who is that band?” They would yell. “Is that Medeski? Soulive?
No. It was Infradig, and all we even knew about them was that their hometown was beautiful and scenic, because it was uttered by one of the members on that recording.
Recently, the band performed in Asheville. For me the trip to “Ashe Vegas” was a late birthday present. The best I could have asked for. For one of my roommates, the one who initially found the group on the net, it was like Christmas and National Secretary Appreciation Day rolled into one.
We journeyed the two & half hour trek to a venue that was foreign to us. The Orange Peel was usually our concert destination in the area but this time it was the Grey Eagle, a much harder place to find for an outsider I might add.
The “Peel” is right in the middle of everything in the city and there’s no telling what kind of person will walk by or what’ll you get into that night.
The Grey Eagle was far more secluded an offered a unique place to chill, and pre-game, before the show. So pre-game, while it rained, we did.
Infradig was opening for the Seepeoples, a psych-pop outfit from nearby. To start the evening there was a short video shown by Earth First, that has been working for 15 years to protect the environment of the southern Appalachian Mountains. A noble cause indeed. Apparently the gig was a benefit for Earth First put on by Terrapin Beer, Harvest Records, Igor Management and Ragtime Vintage Clothing. I’m almost ashamed that I didn’t realize this prior to arriving, but the video and their handouts were very informative. And they deserve props for their endeavors. Therefore mad props go in their direction, keep fighting the good fight.
Then, then it was time for what was, in my mind, the main event. Infradig had been working on new material and pulled it out along with even better and funkier versions of their older stuff.
From this point on my recollection gets shady. I became immersed in the music, and spirits, which is not hard to do during one of their shows. Now every now and then I’ll remember a distinct portion of the show, I had forgotten, like recalling a wild rendezvous with Heather Locklear.
Most of thief first album Kinetic Transfer was played, highlighted by a cool version of “Asymtotic.” And “Gravel Tooth” and “Fallout” off their latest work were thrown in. Bill and Carl meshed well on “Gravel Tooth” to form one heart pumping jam. The new songs are more mysterious, and definitely more intricate, showing that they have come a long way in just the past year. A cover of DJ Shadow’s “Organ Donor,” a usual for the band, was fantastic and emphasized Carl’s vastly underrated keyboard knack.
But that wasn’t going to be the only cover of the night as Infradig had schemed something otherworldly, a combo of Radiohead’s “Paranoid Android” & “Talk Show Host.” Up until then I never wanted to see another band attempt a Radiohead song. It just wouldn’t work. The Dead? Yes. Dylan? Yes. Even Zeppelin? Yes. But not Radiohead, their too epic, and without vocals, come on. It worked though, proving Infradig’s “Epicness” along the way. You have to be damn good to do that. And guess what? They are.
Infradig will catch on soon enough, one has to believe. They already have the talent. It’s now a matter of the fans finding them. And Bonnaroo may well make that happen. The band recently celebrated its new record Clinical Indifference/The Psychology of Breathing at Rhythm and Brews in his hometown of Chattanooga. The official release date of the disc is October 31.
Once they finished at the Grey Eagle Infradig was kind enough to speak with me about the evening, Bonnaroo, doppelgangers, the new album and what lies ahead
MC: Good performance, more people got into it. It seems like the group is starting to gain respect and notice.
Carl: We usually don’t have crowds like that. They are usually just watching. People are either dancing and really into it or it’s like a regular bar scene.
Bill: Usually the people that are sitting and watching are way in the back.
MC: The other day I stumbled across this band, also named Infradig, which is from New York. Have you heard of them?
Carl: Are they the punk band?
MC: Yeah, more hardcore. Are they your arch-enemies?
Carl: They are our doppelgangers. Have you ever seen How to Kill Your Neighbor’s Dog
Carl: You should see that. That is a great flick, the only romantic comedy that I will ever recommend anybody seeing.
MC: I think the people at Bonnaroo are going to love you. I remember last year, as we were leaving, driving through shakedown street we were blasting Infradig with the windows down. And people were grooving out, we were stuck in traffic of course, so they had to hear it. Folks would even shout out “who is that band, that Medeski?”
Carl: I am always afraid though whether jam crowds are going to like us or not. I didn’t come up with the band name.
MC: I think more will than you think because it’s ever changing. The jambands sort of do the same thing but peak out. They will build and build then finally peak out and take it back down. Ya’ll just take it to different levels, it’s layered.
MC: I liked your playing tonight Carl. It sounded like Bernie Worrell at some points.
Carl: Yeah I’ve seen him. It’s been like nine years. I’ve also seen Herbie Hancock. That same year I got into Bjork, Radiohead, and all that.
MC: Besides those who are some other major influences for Infradig?
Carl: I’ve been listening to a lot of Squarepusher and been getting into The Go-Team. Have you heard of them?
Carl: Discover them, they’re unique.
MC: Josh can you talk a bit about your development on drums. Where did you learn to play?
Josh: When I was in seventh grade I realized my dad’s drum set was down the road in a storage unit collecting dust. So I asked my mom to go pick it up. And she picked it up in a station wagon and brought it home. And I started ripping into “Born in the USA” by the Bruce. And there you have it. So I just progressed from there.
Bill: Springsteen started it all.
Josh: Yeah, “The Boss,” I owe it all to “The Boss.”
MC: What was the first band you played with?
Josh: First band I played with was called Raintree. That was in high school. We played Primus covers and Rush covers.
MC: Where did the Infradig members first meet?
Josh: I was actuallyCarl was in the youth group at my church. I was leading the youth group and was Carl’s mentor. I asked to be in the band and he said no.
Carl: He wasn’t mature enough. (laughter)
MC: Now tell me about this world famous incline in Chattanooga?
Carl: Oh yes.
MC: I’ve heard so much about this incline.
Josh: It’s the world’s most amazing mile. Now, I’ve never ridden it. I’ve only walked up it.
Carl: I think it is much better to ride it, but I wouldn’t suggest it.
Josh: I would suggest it. It’s risky but it just might work.
MC: Is Chattanooga really that beautiful and scenic?
Josh: If you’re into cover bands and metal bands it’s a town for you.
MC: Are you thinking of maybe relocating down the road?
Josh: That gets tossed around from time to time. We have so many roots though in Chattanooga. It would be nice to keep that as a home base and tour from there.
Carl: That’s the general idea at this point anyway.
MC: What lies in the immediate future?
Josh: After tonight we are probably just going to be getting ready for SmileFest. We have a new light system we are trying to get working. We are going to try and get that set together. Then the Bonnaroo set. That new CD will be coming out whenever we know what to do with it, but the EP, like we say will be given out at Bonnaroo called Clinical Indifference. We played some of the darker stuff off the new album tonight. This CD will feel like someone is probing your intestines.
Carl: In a good way.
Josh: With a feather.
Mike Cooper is a student at Appalachian State University and a writer for the Watauga Democrat and BallerStatus.Net