I love the album, but since I’m the lead singer’s father, it’s natural to think I might be biased. So there’s not much point in me reviewing the album at the site. I was there at almost all the recording sessions, though, so I can give some insider info. I normally try to keep to technical issues on this blog, but this was a big deal for me, so I’m going to add an occasional post describing my experiences as a family member of the band.
One disclaimer: I only know what I witness or what Xander tells me. Lots goes on among the guys that I only find out about later or not at all. Xander also has no idea I’m doing this. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when somebody tells him. 🙂
Let’s start simple:
1. Who is The Tension?
The band members are Xander Kousen, Dan Kanter, Matt Smigel, and Ben Kopchick. Xander is the lead singer and plays rhythm guitar, Dan is lead guitar, Matt plays bass, and Ben is the drummer. Dan and Xander write most of the music, but each song really is a communal effort, because Ben writes the drum parts and Matt writes the bass lines. Ben, especially, contributes in unexpected ways sometimes — he wrote the lyrics for Tweek and he played the piano line for the Outro at the end of the album.
2. How did they get together?
The boys have been playing for about 2 1/2 years now. Xander tried to form a band back when he was a sophomore and jammed with several different guys, but nothing really took until he re-connected with Dan. Xander was a sophomore at RHAM High School (Regional Hebron, Andover, and Marlborough, based in Hebron, CT) and Dan was at Glastonbury High School, the next town over. The met on Facebook and realized that they’d actually met in kindergarten (!) many years ago.
Xander was already friends with Ben and Matt at RHAM, and when he brought Dan into the mix the band was born.
The band practices at my house, so I’ve been able to hear their progression as musicians. As I recall, their first meeting was productive right away. They worked on a cover song (“Heavy” by Collective Soul), but it came together pretty quickly.
This was in September of 2007. Xander heard about a place for teens called Epoch Arts in East Hampton, where they occasionally had bands play. Through a connection, he booked the band to play there in early November, even though they hadn’t written any songs yet. The boys went into a flurry of activity, with Dan writing most of the music, and came up with five or six songs, enough for a 30 minute set.
Ginger and I went to that debut show. I was amazed. At that age and under those circumstances, you’re happy if your kid manages not to fall off the stage, much less make actual music. They played really well and a couple of their original songs were great. That’s when I knew for sure that the band had a future.
3. Are there any early recordings of the band?
Someone brought a video camera to that debut concert, and a couple of the songs were actually on YouTube for a while under the band’s original name. Unfortunately, I can’t find them any more. There is a brief recording on the band’s original Facebook page, too, but it doesn’t show much.
They also had a MySpace page under the original band name, but that’s now gone away, too.
4. Okay, I’ll bite. What was the original name of the band?
If you don’t know, you’ll have to wait until my post. Consider it a teaser. 🙂