The Daily Tar Heel

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Tuesday September 21st

Airstrip makes a hard landing

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When Matt Park’s former group Veelee disbanded, Park retreated and did what he knew best in order to handle the situation: kept making music. But after writing and recording a few solo songs, Park knew he wanted to take things out of the bedroom and on to the stage again.

Airstrip, Park’s new group, has since expanded to a full band. He didn’t have to look far for recruits: band members are Park’s friends and veteran local musicians Nick Petersen, Tre Acklen and John Crouch, whose current bands include Monsonia, Horseback, Gross Ghost and Caltrop. Their experience combined with Park’s already-laid groundwork made Airstrip’s official launch relatively easy.

AIRSTRIP AT NIGHTLIGHT

Time: 9 p.m. tonight, $5
Location: Nightlight Club,
405 1/2 W. Rosemary St.
Info: www.nightlightclub.com

“When they came to our first practice, they pretty much knew what to play already,” Park said. That was pretty impressive to me. Everyone here is such a good player, its easy to pick up what is happening in a song and just try to work on the energy of a song.”

With Acklen on second guitar, Petersen on bass and Crouch pounding things out on drums, Airstrip creates heavy distorted pop that relies fully on its four musicians.

Park, the band’s main songwriter, initially had a strict vision for how he wanted songs to sound. Park best describes these new songs as heavier, with some of them “coming from an angry place in my body.”

“The recording definitely has the feeling of playing live,” Park said. “There are some overdubs, but it definitely has a raw feel to it, intentionally.”

It’s also important that the band leaves some room for experimentation, instead of simply focusing on getting things right, Petersen said.

“I mean the idea of it would be to have pop songs that are really intense sounding but are kind of skewed enough to keep them interesting for us,” Park said. “And for me, the notion of heavy doesn’t have to do with distortion or pounding drums, its just more about the intensity.”

While exploring the group’s sound has proven experimental for Airstrip, the recording process has also been adventurous at Petersen’s house-turned-studio in Carrboro. The house is full of iconic wood paneling, green shag carpet and an excessive amount of dated upholstery. In short, it’s a groovy trip back to the era of the Brady Bunch.

But Petersen has revamped the interior and created a musician’s haven, complete with a practice and recording space, as well as an impressive production booth equipped with reel-to-reel mastering decks. The band hopes to release an EP soon featuring their recordings from Petersen’s studio.

“The recording we just did was really important because it was the first time that we all recorded as a full band,” Park said. “It was pretty cool to get to record with the band in the place that we practice.”

Airstrip has already managed a few headlining shows and makes its Chapel Hill debut at the Nightlight tonight. The group has at least one monthly show until the beginning of the summer, including Winston-Salem’s Phuzz Phest in April.

But despite its busy schedule, Airstrip is appreciative of the energy and support of the ever-growing Triangle music community.

“We’re really fortunate to play good shows with good bands. I’ve never had a band of mine’s first show go as well as the one back in November,” Crouch said.

Airstrip hopes to inspire listeners as it continues exploring the realm of heavy sounds and live recordings. Ultimately for Park, exploration without any kind of filter is key to keeping Airstrip an evolving project.

He said, “I don’t ever want to inhibit our ideas and make sure that everything we do comes through with some emotional draw, hopefully something people can latch onto or feel in their gut somehow.”

Contact the Diversions Editor at diversions@dailytarheel.com.

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