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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Punk band Relient K to play at Allentown's Crocodile Rock

Relient K singer Matt Thiessen was calling from Tennessee. The band was taking a break from rehearsing for its tour. And the members were sifting through their six-album catalog looking for some surprises for their audiences.

"There's a lot of givens to play, but after that we just pick whatever we feel like playing," he says. "This tour is going to be fun because we're bringing out a couple of nuggets we haven't played for a while."

After playing the Vans Warped Tour during the summer, Relient K has put together its own club tour called the Uncle Fest Tour.

The band will headline the show that also features Ludo, The Providence and House of Heroes. The tour comes to Allentown's Crocodile Rock on Tuesday, and on Wednesday they'll be at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia.

In an era where punk bands come and go, Relient K has stayed both popular and relevant since its 2000 debut album that was full of adolescent-style punk that proved anything goes.

Among the topics: dissing Marilyn Manson, a tribute to Nancy Drew and a punk version of the theme from the TV show "Charles In Charge."

Since then the band has steadily matured and its latest album, "The Bird and the Bee Sides," shows Relient K at its most musically diverse yet.

Although the album contains rarities, demos and songs from EPs, they wanted to add a few new songs to the album. But then the idea expanded. So there are 13 new songs on it.

"It ended up doing as many songs as we can fit," Thiessen says. "I really enjoyed doing some of the offbeat reggae and country songs. We were able to experiment more because we knew it wasn't going to come out as a completely new Relient K album."

As varied as the new album is, the band is regarded as a punk band. Although sometimes tagged a pop-punk band its lyrics are much deeper. No topic seems off-limits to them ranging from sarcastic critiques of pop culture to emotional songs about self-doubt.

But saying something relevant and important is in the spirit of punk rock, Thiessen says.

"If you're going to play music where you stick with just three or four or five chords, you better have something to say so that people pay attention," he says. "You can't do the same old love songs."

Since punk burst into a legitimate genre in the late 1970s, it's survived through genre changes and trends ranging from hardcore to pop punk. But there's been one consistency in it, Thiessen says.

"I think there's an element of DIY kids can relate to," he says. "They know you started in some garage and that you weren't some kind of musical savant."

Over the past few albums, Relient K songs have grown complex both lyrically and musically. Because of the confessional lyrics and tempo shifts, it's sometimes called an emo band -- a genre of punk rock heavy on emotional lyrics. But emo may already be another punk genre that is over.

"I think it may have run its course," he says. "It's so loosely defined anyway. Back in the day it started with bands like the Juliana Theory and Dashboard Confessional who started singing songs with layers of different emotions.

"There's nothing wrong with putting some emotion into music. But Coldplay has a lot of emotion. So do you call them emo?"

However, he says, the band does write songs that are personal and confessional.

"We write from a pretty introspective perspective and we analyze our shortcomings and we wear our hearts on our sleeves," he says. "Or we write about positive experiences. If something is good, it's good to express that as well."

Something the band has fewer questions about from when they started is their spirituality.

They still sometimes play Christian festivals. But questions about their religion don't surface much anymore, he says.

"We don't really have to deal with it," he says. "We really just do whatever we want. I just try to make sure I don't do anything to pull people down or that has a negative impact."

Somehow that's kept them going for 10 years.

"When we started the band, we made a demo for $200 and I sang in an English accent," he says. "But somebody actually saw something in it. And since then our band has definitely been blessed."

Christian Music News Source

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