The reason why Ryan Fechter, the bassist for Denver/ Boulder-based indie-rock band Carbon Choir, makes music is a unique one.
“When I’m playing music I’m constantly solving for X,” he says with a laugh. “I’m constantly trying to complete a mathematical equation. That’s definitely how it feels to me when I’m playing music.”
Fechter is a congenial, cerebral sort of guy, so after spending some time talking with him, comments like these are pretty much par for the course. So is the next one.
“I heard a quote one time: ‘Math is music for the mind, and music is math for the soul.’ I really feel that music opens up the lines of communication between my mind and my heart,” he says.
Further evidence of his thoughtful streak is offered when he talks about the important role music plays in his life.
“Music is like a combination of all the things in the world to me,” he says. “It has a physical challenge to it, it has a mental component, it’s spiritual and it has heart and emotion as well. It’s one of the few things I’ve encountered in the world that is an expression of all those things. It doesn’t just use one part of my mind or the other, it doesn’t just use one part of my body or the other, but it ties everything together. So as a player of music, that’s what it means to me. There’s a completion aspect to it.”
But there is a second part to this answer. “As a listener, I suppose it’s the same for a lot of people; it’s an escape,” he continues. “It’s like getting into a really good book. It’s something to obsess over in a healthy sort of way.”
That obsessive nature has helped Ryan and the other members in the band with regard to their musical output. Fresh on the heels of last December’s High Beams (their first full-length effort) comes a new three-song EP, which will be available at the band’s CD release show.
“They’re basically other recordings from the High Beams sessions,” he says. “We took three more of those songs, refinished them and retooled them and put them together on this EP. It is kind of a continuation of those same ideas and this EP will definitely fit in people’s minds alongside High Beams.”
Critics in the area — and throughout all of Colorado — have lavished considerable praise on High Beams, so to Fechter it feels like a step has been taken in the right direction for the band.
“It is really gratifying,” he says. “We finally made it onto the Westword nominations list this year and we played The Denver Post’s Underground Music Showcase. It’s just nice to be recognized and nice to be noticed. We’ve always felt on the outside to one degree or another, so to finally have some of the writers noticing us, it really does feel good.”
So why does he think people are starting to take notice?
“Musically we’re trying for something substantial, something that makes people feel introspective, or creates a mood or creates an emotion, and I think it’s really important for us that the lyrics tie together with that,” he says.
According to Fechter, lead singer/ songwriter Joel Van Horne’s lyrics are a key element in making music that speaks to people.
“For High Beams and this one, I think Joel’s lyrics are definitely observational; there’s lots of social commentary and imagery and those sorts of things, and he tries to make that personal and relate these bigger ideas to our audience,” Fechter says. “He tries to bring that down to a personal level people can relate to, and so they can experience what we experience through the music and lyrics.
“I guess you could relate it to a journalist who’s trying to take this big world event and then trying to bring it home with the local story. I think we’re trying to do that in a lot of ways, but in an artistic sort of sense. We try to take those things which affect so many people and paint these vivid pictures that will resonate with each of them emotionally.”
Despite such lofty pursuits, however, the band does know how to have some fun from time to time.
“Me and Joel both teach these student rock bands at the Academy of Rock at Global Sound Studios in Broomfield, where basically we take little kids and turn them into a rock band,” he says. “It’s a non-stop series of double takes. The band names they come up with … . Last week the band names that one group was considering were Smash Monkey and Roadkill. And they decided on Roadkill! I was outvoted.”
On the Bill
Carbon Choir play the Fox Theatre on Friday, Aug. 20.
Doors at 8:30 p.m. Achille Lauro and Science Partner open. Tickets are $10, plus $2 for under-21. 1135 13th St., Boulder, 303-443-3399.