Age Rings

Age Rings


"If 'Yankee Hotel Foxtrot'-era Wilco covered tunes by Pavement and Spoon, it might sound something like this band and these songs." -Jonathan Perry, Boston Globe, 4/7/06


ALLSTON -- What do you do when your old rock band breaks up, but everyone still likes everyone else and there seems to be more to say? Why, you start another group, of course. And if you're really lucky (and really right about having more to say), it might even be better than the first one.

This is precisely the story of the Boston-based Age Rings, a newish and constantly morphing pop collective whose core includes three longtime friends -- singer-guitarist Ted Billings, guitarist Will Spitz, and bassist Andrew McInnes -- who started their first band together, Slater, when they were still in high school in the South Shore suburb of Hanover. (Age Rings' fourth core member, Peter Baker, was brought into the fold last summer after meeting Billings at a party.)

Slater had a fruitful run as a noisy, grungy rock outfit that released three albums and even won the WBCN Battle of the High School Bands. But the band fell apart when its drummer, Joe Cutrufo, moved to North Carolina last year. Suddenly, the thing that had been a constant in the lives of its members since they were teens was gone.

''Our last band went kaput after six or seven years, and that was really sad," says Billings, 23, over beers with his bandmates at Great Scott. ''We needed a bridge to get to the next thing." That bridge is Age Rings' not-yet-officially-released debut, ''Look . . . The Dusk Is Growing," an audaciously good album whose 10 songs were written, recorded, and performed mostly by Billings and a couple of friends that included Lot Six drummer and Frank Smith frontman Aaron Sinclair and organist Josh Smith. At various times both have performed with Age Rings, who next play the Middle East Upstairs on Thursday.

''The record was a thing that had to happen and that I needed to do," Billings says. ''It's good that [Slater] ended, because it had run its course. It was time to start something new."

For the remaining band members, that was easier said than done. ''We had been playing together forever, so none of us knew what to do," says Spitz, 23. ''We were kind of aimless, because none of us had started a band since we were 16. But Ted always has an album in him, and he's constantly writing songs. That's what he lives and breathes, so he just whipped out a record."

Even though Billings has yet to get ''Dusk" properly pressed -- Age Rings currently give away homemade copies of the disc at their shows -- covert smart bombs such as ''Everything Will Fall Apart" and ''Bar Think" are already causing a commotion among old friends and new converts. If ''Yankee Hotel Foxtrot"-era Wilco covered tunes by Pavement and Spoon, it might sound something like this band and these songs. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the fast-circulating buzz is that Age Rings have only performed in public a total of five times.

Age Rings may technically be just getting started, but onstage the band members carry themselves with the cocksure charisma of veteran rockers at the top of their game. Which, in a way, they are -- except what was a tight four-piece may now welcome twice as many musicians onstage, maybe even a trombone. Says Billings: ''It's a good experiment to do as a band, and I think us knowing all of these songs front, backwards, and sideways has made us stronger playing together."
-Jonathan Perry, Boston Globe, 4/7/06


"look...the dusk is growing" (self released, 2006)