July 28, 2006 § Leave a comment
by Cat Pilgrim
All Asia Bar, 3 June 2006
IGNORING PROPER ROCK ‘N ROLL PROTOCOL , I arrived at Cambridge’s All Asia Bar woefully early. I chugged a bottle of Jack Daniels to compensate for my faux pas as I scanned the room for members of Pinewood Derby. An enthusiastic looking chap came up to me, extending his hand. “I’m Jack Ludden from Pinewood Derby. Thanks for coming!” I must have looked relieved to see a friendly face, but quickly regained my devil-may-care composure and smashed my empty bottle on the ground.
“Hi Jack, I’m Cat, from Pilgrims of Sound.”
Jack Ludden is the main creative force behind the powerhouse that is Pinewood Derby. He busied himself writing and recording songs in his basement for a period of time before taking proactive measures to unleash them upon the public consciousness. In December of 2005 he enlisted the help of local singer Maryn Jones (“We met on MySpace!” she quips) to flesh out his ideas.
Encouraged by the response, they sought additional members, and Pinewood Derby emerged, an ever-evolving entity with new members added on a seemingly weekly basis. “Siv, our violin player, just joined about a week and a half ago,” says Jack, describing the most recent incarnation of Pinewood Derby. “I guess I’d say we’ve been together for about four to five months.” Guitarist Mikey O’Leary, bassist Josh Staines, and drummer Steve Trageser round out the line-up.
Despite his creative control, Jack Ludden’s cheerfully self-deprecating demeanor prevents Pinewood Derby from slipping into totalitarian territory. He brings recordings of his ideas to practice, where other members “change little parts to make it a band song instead of a Jack song.” he explains.
Pinewood Derby has played a grand total of two live shows; despite their inexperience, they have managed to inspire a hefty following. MySpace has proven itself a well-suited showcase for the band’s complex, painstakingly-arranged recordings. “I went to UMass Amherst for a year to do chemical engineering, but towards the end of it I stopped doing my homework because I wanted to play music…I went to Japan and met a very kind man who was a music producer, so I was like, screw it, I’m not going back to college. I’m just gonna do music because this man was really happy, even though he was poor for a while,” says Jack.
They chose the insanely catch ‘Ivy On Stone’ as their opener. The response from the crowd attested to the strength of their following, as people openly sang along and KNEW ALL THE LYRICS. I signalled the bartender for a bottle of absinthe and a prostitute. The mix was off at first, and singer Maryn Jones’s ethereal voice was nearly drowned out by the mess of other instruments onstage. The energy and enthusiasm each player put into their performance paid off; although the stage seemed cluttered, they were able to make the chaos work. While not a perfect show by any means, Pinewood Derby shows staggering potential.
How far does Pinewood Derby want to go? “In the words of my high school football coach, we wanna go all the way!” says Jack, gesticulating enthusiastically. “I wanna meet people,” says Maryn. She is quick to add that she will not, however, sell her soul to the devil in exchange for the perfect song. “Perfect songs aren’t usually the best ones,” she reasons. “Anyway, I think Rivers Cuomo already did that.”
The band is determined to hone their live performance to make it as enjoyable as their recordings. On the strength of their recordings alone, they managed to attract the attention of Undress Me Records, a small label run “by some guys out of BU.”
If pop hooks could fuel cars, Pinewood Derby would be America’s solution to the energy crisis. The official Pinewood Derby debut album is set for release in September.