The house lights dim. The chatter pauses as the room falls into darkness. Suddenly the stage is assaulted by a wash of brilliant, clashing colors, the air throbs with musical tension and five college-age students leap onto the stage, armed with their instruments. The band, The Rhythm Method, has arrived.
Well, at least at local clubs and colleges.
But that doesn't stop Harvard's newest band from dreaming.
Last night the five went to Waltham to entertain Brandeis students at the college pub. Two weeks ago they played at Jack's on Mass. Ave.; the week before they had their own show at The Channel. And the five musicians say it won't be long before they're a nationally-renowned group.
Only a month old, The Rhythm Method has already developed high expectations. They don't want to be just another college group. In fact, they'd rather not be considered a college band at all. As lead-singer and keyboardist John N. Axelrod '88 is fond of saying, "We're professional."
Playing with Axelrod are guitarist Brian Silverman '85, Larisa R. Wright '87 on the bass, drummer Scott Puopolo '85, and saxophonist Warren Hill, a student at the Berklee School of Music.
The group plays a mixture of rock and what Axelrod jokingly refers to "European-synthopop." Their original music, which is written mostly by Axelrod, Puopolo and Silverman, shows a strong jazz influence, members say. Both original and cover works are "highly danceable," Axelrod says.
The Rhythm Method stands out from other bands at Harvard because it is the only one that frequently performs club gigs, Wright says.
Over the past month, The Rhythm Method has performed for several local clubs including their shows at Jack's and The Channel. Mark Jones, production manager of Jack's--which books about eighty bands each month--says The Rhythm Method stand a good chance of having its hopes fulfilled. "This booking agent thinks the band is very good and we see a lot of bands," Jones says. "Musically I'd say they're comfortably a seven."
"There've been a lot of bands that have played here and gone on to bigger things," Jones adds.
The Rhythm Method is one of 1400 groups in the Boston area. "If you can exist and play under that kind of competition, it says something about your band," Jones says.
Despite the incipient group's obvious desire for success, Axelrod says that his main goal is to communicate to listeners, not make the Top 40. "People think you have to degrade your intellectual standards to appeal to the average man on the street," he says, describing his belief that this attitude is responsible for the creation of "music that just becomes a form of mental masturbation."
Introducing The Rhythm Method
Axelrod, Puopolo, Silverman and Wright have all played together in the past, but they say the intense spirit of The Rhythm Method has transported their latest band into a whole new league. "Our aspiration is to eventually have that dream contract," Axelrod says. He believes that this self indulgent aura of professionalism is key to eventual mass-success.
The band members credit saxophonist Hill with much of the group's developing style. "A good sax is like a vitamin," Axelrod says.
When Wright first heard the Canadian saxophonist perform, she instantly decided they needed him to play for the band. "He happened to be absolutely wonderful, and we said `You gotta be in our band.' By the luck of the gods he was interested."
Unlike her cohorts, Wright was not always interested in musical success. In fact, despite her punk-rock background, the Quincy House senior majors in Government. "I used to want to go into politics," she laughs, adding that now, "I'd rather be on the road." After graduation, Wright wants to pursue a career in social service, rather than music.
Both Axelrod and Wright admit that the band has made it hard for them to do their academic life credit. "We've gone at such a pace in the Rhythm Method it's taken up all our time," Axelrod says.
But he adds that he doesn't regret the committment. Axelrod says he considers the band the best extracurricular activity he could have ever done.
And as the Adams House junior adds, this won't be an extracurricular for ever. "The experience of playing the college and club scene, you graduate from that," he says.