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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Relient K EP includes blend of old and new songs

GRAND RAPIDS -- Typical Relient K.

A would-be EP with some song rarities and unreleased material turned into a 26-song tour-de-farce called "The Birds and the Bee Sides."

"I'm not a huge fan of just putting out a 'B' sides" record, so I thought we should put some new material on there," said Matt Thiessen, the quirky, pop-rock band's lead singer/songwriter, in a phone interview from a Nashville studio.

"We wrote some new songs and recorded them really quick. It gives us a little breathing room 'til our next full, length project."

Among the selections are demos and other studio experiments. Besides the dozen or so new tunes, there's also an acoustic version of a song that's become one of the band's signatures, "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been."

"We kind of had carte blanche on this one," said Thiessen, 28. "There's some old country stuff ("I Just Want You to Know"), a bit of reggae ("The Lining is Silver") and a couple of little fun tunes."

The band also continues its penchant for odd, "punny" song titles, slipping in "A Penny Loafer Saved Is a Penny Loafer Earned."

It's the sixth recording for the band that appeared 10 years ago near Canton, Ohio, naming itself (with a purposeful misspelling) after original member Matt Hoopes' Reliant K car.

From its punkish beginnings into its more recent forays into piano-pop, the band has carved a following in mainstream and Christian music markets with songs such as "Be My Escape" and "The Best Thing."

The band did the full length of last summer's alternative bands Vans Warped tour, during which Thiessen admitted feeling his age.

"We'd hang out with bands like Forever the Sickest Kid, where all the guys are, like, 20 or 21," he said. "Sometimes, I would make reference to some older music, and they'd have no idea what I was talking about."

The busy band has recorded three new Christmas songs to add to a re-issue of its holiday CD, "Let It Snow Baby ... Let It Reindeer."

"What we're trying to do with our Christmas (music) catalog is to 'snowball' it a little bit each year," he said.

Relient K has a new drummer, Ethan Luck, who earlier this year replaced Dave Douglas. Luck also holds down a job as guitarist for hard-rock group Demon Hunter.

The band's one-of-a-kind song titles have gained it at least a little notoriety. "The Only Thing Worse Than Beating a Dead Horse is Betting On One" -- a tune from their CD "MmHmm" -- won honors from a national magazine.

"Somebody actually sent that title in to Reader's Digest, and it made it into the Quotable Quotes section," Thiessen said. "I actually have a copy of that one."

Thiessen will join the rest of his bandmates in the ranks of the married, when he weds in August. His fiancee is from Detroit, but works in Atlanta.

"She's got a heck of a schedule, like I do," Thiessen said. "We're trying to get a jump on the planning because it's gonna be a bit of a circus."

Christian Music News Source

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