Polyphonic Spree's New Stages

Vocal pop ensemble finishes recording second album

April 11, 2003 12:00 AM ET

"It's sunny here," Polyphonic Spree mainman Tim DeLaughter says from his home in Dallas, "which is exactly the way I like it." DeLaughter was talking about the un-wintery weather, but the statement could easily apply to the glowing music created by his twenty-four-person choral pop ensemble, which has wrapped its second album, with plans to mix it next month, with a release later this year.

The new album is, in a way, the Polyphonic Spree's first real musical statement. The group recorded The Beginning Stages of . . . the Polyphonic Spree as a demo, releasing it independently on a whim last year with few expectations. The record has cleared 15,000 copies, SoundScan chump change, but a strong figure for a recording that generated its buzz without any financial support. "While we were making it, we had no idea it was gonna become what it has become," says DeLaughter, who formed the robe-clad group as a positive outlet after his former band, Tripping Daisy, split after the drug-related death of guitarist Wes Berggren. "We did it in three days, pretty much non-stop. It was a brutal schedule, and we had no idea that's what we were making."

This time out the Spree visited the studio with a more thoroughly developed recording plan and more money at their disposal. "Sonically it's the best thing I've ever been a part of," DeLaughter says. "It's pretty much hair-raising and it's a really wonderful representation of the Polyphonic Spree two and a half years later. It sounds more like an opera to me. There's a story and theme that's cohesive through the whole record, a lot of hope and aspirations of reaching more and making it through. It's a very spirited record."

Having only previously played in Texas, New York and Los Angeles, DeLaughter and Co. are also donning the robes for their first full U.S. tour this spring, followed by the European festival circuit in the fall. DeLaughter is entertaining label offers for the band, but as yet has not committed to one. Another possible hang-up for the new record would be the possible re-release of The Beginning Stages with a more rigorous promotional push.

DeLaughter isn't irked by issues of time though ("To be quite honest, I've been through this before and I'm taking my time"), and he is enjoy basking in the musical glow created by the band, the embodiment of a sound he'd heard years before. "It was kind of a self-indulgent move, because it was strictly for me," he says. "But the vision has constantly been evolving by this many people meeting musically. It's just getting better all the time. Is that a lyric?"

Polyphonic Spree tour dates:

4/11: Chicago, The Metro
4/12: Minneapolis, Quest
4/14: Boulder, CO, Fox Theater
4/17: Vancouver, Richard's
4/18-19: Seattle, Graceland
4/21: Portland, OR, Aladdin Theater
4/23: Eugene, OR, Wow Hall
4/24: San Francisco, Great American Music Hall
4/25: San Francisco, Amoeba Records
4/25: San Francisco, Slim's
4/27: Indio, CA, Coachella Festival
5/14: Manchester, TN, Bonnaroo Festival

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