The band electric: Synth-heavy musicians are live wires

The band electric: Synth-heavy musicians are live wires
Photo by Kristina Bumphrey

It takes a lot of volts for music this wired.

House of Blondes is a New York-based indie-synth band whose live show consists of three dynamic stations, with Chris Pace rotating between two synthesizers and a digital multi-track, Bryan McNamara trading off electric bass and synth, and John Blonde playing two additional synths along with providing vocals.

In case you weren’t counting, that’s nearly twice as many synths as band members.

The impressive technological arsenal can create a lot of possibilities. In fact, Pace referred to himself as a “keyboard junkie,” while his band mate Blonde contending that he was more of a “synth scientist.”

These tech virtuosos’ performances defy the stereotype of the electronic show as a lone artist pressing play on a laptop full of polished products. Like a 1960s jam band or a jazz ensemble, the group considers its prerecorded material merely a starting point from which to improvise. Each member creates and responds to the off-the-cuffs riffing of the others to form a singular experience.

“It’s a commitment to nothing being sacred. Even if you work on something for two years it doesn’t mean you have to stick with it,” said Pace.“It’s about interpreting these decisions live.”

After being part of more traditionally instrumented projects, the members of House of Blondes feel liberated by the electronic genre. The range of sounds available now creates a sonic potential that energizes the band. The challenge for the artists is to transfer this flow to the audience. When things go right, the result is something wonderful and unexpected.

“Sublime moments that happen often,” said Blonde. “That’s what it’s all about.”

House of Blondes at the Rock Shop [249 Fourth Ave. at President Street, in Park Slope (718) 230–5740, www.therockshopny.com]. Nov. 2, 7:30 pm, $10.