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The best kept secret in music

Press


"Top Ten Albums of 2006"

Assassins, "You Will Changed Us" (Chemical Kill, assassins.com): Indie-rock veteran Joe Cassidy survived years of major-label delays and lived to tell about it, emerging with this self-released disc. A volatile debut blend of electronics and more traditional rock instrumentation.

(by Greg Kot) - Chicago Tribune


"Killing Time (Assassins rock the Dark Wave Disco)"

Long live electro-rock! Assassins are the latest, greatest and most local manifestation of when synthesizers and electronic beats married into the rock family. Started once upon a time called the eighties in a land called Manchester by a band named New Order, moody dance-rock has come home to roost. Chicago's Assassins were snatched up by Arista in early 2003 after only playing their fifth live show; they also opened for New Order last May.

The programming work of Aaron Miller (also the drummer) and keyboardist David Golitko go a long way in creating a lush, textured feel; their digital undertones smooth out the rock angularity, and conjure up an emotive, jagged sexuality, also due in no small part to Merritt Lear's tortured, sumptuous vocals. Joe Cassidy's melancholic Euro-boy voice joins Lear on the mic as well as on guitar duties. Rounded out with Alex Kemp's sinister bass, Assassins not only pick up where New Order left off, they reflect a very specific strain of the last decade's catchiest crooners. But even with echoes of Garbage, Oasis and Duran Duran, they engage crowds with a voice simultaneously younger, hungrier and more jaded.

For this, they can no doubt partially thank the lifetime of music industry bullshit they've already slogged their way through. Before Arista released their debut album, the imprint got bought out, label head L.A. Reid was ousted, and Assassins had to fight a nine-month legal battle to get the rights back to their music. On a recent telephone conversation, Aaron Miller updated us on the state of the still-unreleased record.

Aaron Miller: After Arista became RCA, there was no chemistry, so we took a big chance and walked. Right now, I can't say anything for sure, but basically, we are finalizing a deal with a small label under one of the majors in the UK. We plan on releasing our debut early next year. One good thing about the whole mess is that we've had so much time to work in the studio that I don't think we'll have any problem with the sophomore slump. Right now, we've got two-and-a-half albums worth of material to choose from.

Where did the name come from?

AM: Joe was making fun of Marvelkind, the band I was in, calling us musical terrorists, which I thought was especially funny coming from a Belfast guy. And then that night, he dreamt we were in a band called Assassins. We had to go with it, because at the time we were all coming from these bands with wuss names--I mean, Marvelkind, Butterfly Child, and Small Factory? What a bunch of hippie/indie rock wusses! (laughs) The name Assassins was such a 180 that it seemed right.

That combination of band backgrounds--pop, indie rock and electronica--sort of came together for you guys and put you right smack dab into the electro-rock category, almost like a recipe.

AM: Yeah, it's our collective age, too. Musicians are sort of always reflecting back what they came up with. We're all in our late twenties/early thirties, so we grew up with that whole wedge in the eighties and even into the nineties between rock purists and electronic people. Well, people who are growing up now have never known a time without electronic dance music; we grew up watching that separation fizzle away. I mean, if you wanted to start a band now that was pure rock, like AC/DC or whatever, it would almost seem like you were a revivalist. For me, it seems inconceivable that we wouldn't incorporate electronic beats because it was such a huge influence bringing us up musically.

Dark Wave Disco seems like a perfect place for you to play. Is that why you chose it?

AM: Mark Gertz, the promoter, does such a good job, he's been postering like a madman! It's hard to find people who work hard when it comes to promoting shows, and this has actually been a totally good experience. I think it'll be a hodgepodge of people that have been to those events before and our crowd, which is great. I mean Dark Wave certainly is a night of dancing and we're not opposed to making people dance, but obviously we're a rock hybrid, so they can dance, and they can rock out. I think the fact that we're playing will usher in a certain percentage of people who would otherwise not be there. It's a good night, I've been to a couple of them, and here's the thing: People like seeing good things no matter what it is.

An inordinate amount has been written about Dave Golitko's dancing--care to comment?

AM: Hey man, music is a place to let your freak flag fly.

(by Melissa Lane) - New City


"When it rains it pours"

The second new release this weekend comes from Assassins, a group marked by contradictions as sonic sweetness gets peppered by atonal counterpoints. The musical surface shines with an electronic coolness that dazzles, but at their core the songs sound bolted down by a grimy organicism. It’s almost as if everything was recorded with state of the art gear that was located in a dripping subterranean cavern housing broken-down pieces of old robots and a slightly psychotic supercomputer or two.

This is all just a fancy way of saying that the songs sound perfectly imperfect. While the music is forward thinking and challenging, the compositions are also all perfectly constructed pop tunes that would sound just as home on an acoustic guitar as they do within their recorded cocoon of beats, buzzes and whirs. The secret weapon that elevates all of this beyond the pale are the dual lead vocals of Joe Cassidy and Merritt Lear as their voices combine the characteristics of honey and razor blades to create something that ultimately cuts deeply and stays buried with the listener long after the final notes of the album have trailed off.

The debut, titled You Will Changed Us, distills their live show with crystalline assuredness and ads an extra dimension to many of the songs that have been circulating in demo form. We have been told, though, that the European release of the disc will be re-mixed with different tracking and artwork, so make sure you get this version while you still can. Judging by this news we wouldn’t be surprised if each of the EU version songs released as singles will be done so in three CD versions with different b-sides, two DVDs with even more different b-sides and a cassingle with an exclusive non-album, non-b-side. And we’ll buy every one.

(by Jim Kopener) - Chicagoist


"Contract Killers"

Assassins front man Joe Cassidy is the first to admit that his band has had an unusual career arc. The local quintet came together in 2001, got signed by Arista Records after a handful of gigs, and were poised to join a wave of 80s-tinged dance-pop bands destined for mainstream success. But a leadership shake-up at the label held up the release of their debut, and the young band spent more than a year engaged in a legal tussle over control of their music. This week they finally released You Will Changed Us on their own label, Chemicals Kill Records. "We've been a pretty hard band to be a fan of," Cassidy says. "And we've had so much support from so many people, particularly in Chicago, that we wanted to release this almost to thank them. And, of course, to stop people from asking us, 'When's your record coming out?'"
A Belfast native, Cassidy started his music career as a teenager in the mid-80s, playing bass in the Manchester group B.F.G. before launching his own orch-pop outfit, Butterfly Child. He came to Chicago on a promotional stop in 1996 and recorded the band's 1998 opus, Soft Explosives, here with locals like Tortoise's John Herndon and Euphone's Nick Macri. Not long after that he decided to settle here permanently. In 2001 Metro owner Joe Shanahan asked him to open a pair of shows for fellow Irishmen the Saw Doctors, which is how Cassidy met Aaron Miller, a Metro stagehand who played in the local group Marvelkind. They hit it off and began writing and recording together; early on Cassidy invited singer-guitarist Merritt Lear, a sometime Butterfly Child collaborator, to join the fold. (Cassidy and Lear soon began dating as well.)
By the end of the year the group had expanded from a studio project to a proper band, with Marvelkind's David Golitko on keyboards and Alex Kemp, formerly of Rhode Island indie-pop act Small Factory, on bass. The Assassins began playing live in the spring of 2002, and after networking at industry events like MOBfest and CMJ they attracted label attention; by the time they played their seventh show, opening for the Walkmen in LA in January 2003, they had an offer from Arista head Antonio "LA" Reid. "He was trying to find something that reminded him of the stuff that he loved in the 80s," says Cassidy. "We weren't even aware that there was this 80s New Order comeback in the offing. Of course the Killers and stuff like that were getting signed around then too, and they saw us as part of that scene."

That spring the band signed a deal with Arista for one album, with an option for more. They had tracked enough material for a record on their own, but the label enlisted veteran producer Stephen Hague (New Order, Erasure) and Radiohead engineer Graeme Stewart to help them finish it. The band spent six weeks that summer at Hague's Woodstock studio, then made a trip to Virginia Beach, where Serban Ghenea (Jay-Z, N*E*R*D) mixed the album. The disc was slated for a mid-2004 release, and the band's prospects looked bright: Reid was personally championing the group and pushing plans to market the Assassins in the UK before breaking them in the States. "He was listening to what we had, picking out possible singles, and talking about getting the Neptunes to remix some of the tracks--it was looking really good," Cassidy says. "And then the whole thing went pear-shaped."
Shortly after Christmas the band began hearing rumors that Reid was being ousted from Arista and that Clive Davis--who was forced to retire from Arista in 2000 to make room for Reid-- was returning to run the label. Reid had an impressive track record that included hits by OutKast, Kelis, and Avril Lavigne, but he'd made a few expensive missteps-- including signing Whitney Houston to a new $100 million contract in 2001--and by mid-January he was officially out the door. Davis immediately slashed staff, moved artists to different BMG imprints, and pruned the label's roster. The reshuffling plan would have sent the Assassins to RCA, but after meeting with A and R man Jeff Blue--who steered the careers of rap-rock acts like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park--the group anticipated a bad fit and decided to bolt.
"We'd walked into a situation that was very corporate in the first place," says Cassidy. "We all come from indie world, and to sign to a label like Arista took a lot of soul-searching in the first place. But we did it primarily because of LA Reid and his staff, because they were well educated about music, understood what we were trying to do, and wanted to take a risk. But that whole team was struck down when Davis came in, and we quickly realized this is not going to work."
But getting out of their deal proved difficult. The band had recorded 15 tracks but hadn't technically delivered a finished album; Arista had spent somewhere in the low-to-mid six figures on recording and wanted some return on its investment. "We just wanted to get the masters back and to have the right to rerecord some of the songs if we wanted," - Chicago Reader


"Interesting Gossip Not as Interesting as the Music"

"I'm really sorry about not calling last night. There is a lot of shit going on right now," Assassins singer Joe Cassidy apologizes softly to my voicemail at nearly one a.m. He isn't kidding either.

Nearly two hours have passed since the scheduled time of the phone interview - twice rescheduled - and Cassidy sounds as if he were sleepwalking as he continued to pack up gear from his acoustic set early that evening with Butterfly Child, the other band he's played with since his days in Belfast. With little downtime between set and interview, I quickly begin to feel sorry for my onslaught of questions.

Two a.m. and somewhere in Chicago-land Joe Cassidy's mobile phone is vibrating against his hip, more than likely bruised from all the phone tag we'd been playing for the last few weeks. For a band with a relatively small number of live shows under their belts, the name still commands great respect from Chicago music fans. Yet jealousy and rivalry between other bands haunt the local legends, even to the point where other local bands have been rumored to be kind of snippy towards the Assassins crew.

CASSIDY'S INNER VIEW
"We should start putting someone at our merchandise booth so they can recite Assassins gossip at $5 a pop."

"MOBfest isn't a competition, so we didn't exactly win anything," Cassidy starts to explain. "Three years ago Roger Jansen, the MOBfest founder and soccer player extraordinaire, invited us to play at Double Door and that led directly to a deal with Arista due to A&R buzz. So, last year when we played again, I heard some bands were complaining because we had the big record deal blah blah blah…but we were out of our contract by then so we were like everyone else on the bill - except our keyboardist could out-dance any of them on stage," Cassidy smirks.

Release from the contract with Arista has had its downfalls for Assassins, although you would never know it from the confidence of Cassidy and his bandmates as they search for a new record deal. "We had a pretty intense year once we signed to Arista. We recorded the album, but our boss got fired from the company and we entered a 9-month legal battle to get the rights to our music back. During this process, there had been all kinds of red tape about our music going online and being available to people. Now that it's finally cleared up, new stuff will be available on our myspace.com site and assassins.com will be posting new music in the future. We have been concentrating on clothing our attorney's family in Prada in the process."

If legal battles for the rights of Assassins music, jamming with Butterfly Child and being in the studio wasn't enough to keep Cassidy on the move, the band found its way over to Europe earlier in April for a few meetings with labels, management, and publishing companies. "Assassins have yet to play a show overseas but it's looks good this summer," Cassidy projects.

As if Cassidy's schedule hadn't been full enough, Assassins have just announced they have been billed as support for New Order on May 3 at the Aragon. My next trip into Office Max, I'm buying Joe Cassidy a day planner to keep all this craziness straight. "We are only playing the Aragon date, which in itself is the icing on the cake," he says. "I think The Chemical Brothers are doing one or two of the others. New Order are one of our all time favorite bands and the fact that we got chosen because they like our music makes it much better."

On those afternoons in the studio, Assassins have been pecking away at a new recording for most of April. LP? EP? Hey what happened to the long lost album they recorded for Arista? Joe, extremely tired yet somehow still amazingly polite, sheds light on the situation.

"To cut a long story short, we made an album for Arista that still hasn't been released. It looks like that record entitled You Will Change Us will be coming out later this year on a different label. In the meantime, while all of our legal madness was going on, we started making a second album and doing remixes for other people like Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child and Tommie 'The Deerhunter' Sunshine. For a moment we were considering putting out the newer tracks first, but that isn't going to happen."

And the question any musician wants to know: Who is producing this new album? "Damien Mendis, who has currently worked with Gorillaz, Jay-Z, and Electric 6, is remixing 'Guilty' for a potential single in the U.K., so a lot is still going on. Most of the Assassins guys are currently producing other groups as well as doing our own work…so if you see any members with a sun tan right now, it's fake because we are all living in the recording studios right now."

As the recording sessions come to a close, watch for the music video for "Always Wanting What You Ain't Got," which was filmed recently at the Congress Theatre and is just about completed, ready to air on a television near you.

Dealing with potential craziness at every turn - Chicago Innerview


"Assassins Live"

This will not be the typical review. I won't go on about songs, I will not go on about reproduction live vs on record, I will not even really discuss the members. I will tell you few basics, because that's all the information I have. ASSASSINS are the current project of Joe Cassidy (Butterfly Child) and four Chicagoans. They consist of two guitarists, (Joe and Merit Lear), one bassist, one drummer and one bloke on several keyboards.

Typical or not, I know magic when I see it.

January 16 in the bitter cold, these five musicians took the stage at a sold out, crowded to the brim show at Schubas with no record deal and nothing more than a basic listing in the Chicago press. The room was a buzz with electricity because the other people in the room knew something that I would find out... what it's like to catch a band at the beginning.

I hear outsiders talk about what a good indie music scene Chicago has and I know they can't possibly live here. There normally is no scene. Aluminum Group shows don't sell out. Kevin Thistia plays to a room of a dozen people. Archer who? Perhaps that's what makes it so miraculous the kind of attention Assassins has been getting from the underground. In the past month I have seen Schubas music room with 5 people in it, 10 people, perhaps a high of 40. Thursday night? God knows. I'm not good at math so don't ask me to count that high. For their first headlining show, the crowd came. It almost makes me wonder how many other shows they've opened for where they've blown the headliner out of the water. I didn't see them with Zwan last week but last time I saw them open for Soundtrack of our Lives I knew the music couldn't get any better once they'd left the stage.

So all this hype am I eventually going to tell you what they sound like? I wish it was that easy. Finely layered atmospheric guitars over space age keyboards and harmonized vocals doesn't do them justice. They aren't stereolab. I get an image in my head of birds... circling in perfect unison all going different directions until they converge in beautiful formation. It's swirly pop, but heavier. It's electronic yet wholly infused with guitars. Its scattered yet working together. It's dreamy yet grounded by bass and drums. It's mesmerizing, breathtaking and altogether pop inspired. Assassins have the force and power of rock at it's best, yet the sophistication of electronica and all the sensibility of (future) pop superstars.

Joe Cassidy's had this sort of praise forced upon him before. After nearly 10 years of recording he's had numerous Melody Maker and NME singles of the week, a record deal with Rough Trade, recorded with Tortoise, shared a stage with John Cale, Neil Hannon, god knows who else. I'm really hoping Assassins is the project that finally puts him over the edge because on that Thursday night... it was perfection.

"I've got a first class ticket to get you out of here" - Mile High Club

- Excellent Online


"Assassins"

ASSASSINS

You Will Changed Us (Chemicals Kill Records)

This is an exceptionally well-produced album from a band that has been
making waves in the Chicagoland area due to deserved comparisons to more well-known electronic-tinged bands like New Order and Primal Scream.
As if to prove the comparisons true, they were hand-selected by Peter Hook to open for New Order on one of their US appearances. A fitting forum to assert themselves,since Assassins made their reputation live, and the confidence and style of their show is captured on You Will Changed Us.
Merritt Lear, the band’s mesmerizing vocalist, is a true talent, and her presence is evident on every part of the album, even when she sings background on the male-vox-lead tracks. Plenty of the record’s highlights could be notable singles, particularly “Loved You Now,” which combines the Assassins’ strongest assets––their emotional vocals and slick musical styling––into a crescendo that leaves the listener
breathless at its conclusion.

(reviewed by NORA CRONIN)

Link www.assassins.com

File Under Hooks that kill

RIYL Goldfrapp, Primal Scream, Placebo

Oct 2006
- CMJ Magazine Album Review


"Inspired Guns"

Inspired guns

After a long major label entanglement, Chicago’s Assassins are finally free to release their new album.

Assassins have put the stresses of You Will Changed Us behind them.
“We just wanted to get the damn thing out,” Assassins frontman Joe Cassidy says of his band’s new album. “We’ve got a thousand copies pressed and we’re ready to go.”

Considering that Assassins have been on the Chicago scene since 2001, it seems odd that You Will Changed Us is the band’s first proper release, out on its own Chemicals Kill imprint. It’s a solid piece of electro dance-rock from start to end: danceable yet dark, with broad strokes of new wave painted through, and surprisingly good production values considering its shoestring, home studio budget. But it’s the struggle behind the disc’s release that makes its five-year journey so remarkable. “Our story is an interesting balance of really good and really bad luck,” explains drummer Aaron Miller. “We’ve all been in a state where we’re waking up one day feeling completely fucked and waking up the next day feeling like kings of the universe. It’s this weird middle ground.”

Assassins first came together when Cassidy, originally from Belfast, Ireland (he settled in Chicago several years ago), joined up with Miller, who had previously been playing with local group Marvelkind. “It was just Joe and me recording for a year,” Miller says. Slowly, the two brought in singer-guitarist Merritt Lear, bassist Alex Kemp and Miller’s Marvelkind bandmate David Golitko on keys and synths. Once the band’s lineup was intact, it started playing high-profile shows straight off, including opening slots for the Soundtrack of Our Lives, the Walkmen and Zwan.

The band was clearly good, and with similarly minded retro electropop acts such as the Faint and the Rapture being heavily scouted out as the year’s hot new trend, it wasn’t surprising that Arista head Antonio “L.A.” Reid snapped it up for his label after its seventh gig. “He said, ‘I just love you guys, and the ’80s is back,’?” Cassidy recalls. “And we said, ‘It is?’?” While the group initially had doubts about leaving the indie world, Arista’s offer—which included cutting the album with producer Stephen Hague (Erasure, New Order) and Radiohead engineer Graeme Stewart—was too sweet to refuse. “They were really cool for a major label,” Lear adds. “I’d heard so many horror stories. But the horror actually began at the end.”

That end came as Assassins were in the midst of recording, and word got out that Reid had been canned from Arista’s top spot. The subsequent shifts in power left the group in a tangle with the label as it tried to get the copyrights to its songs back, a situation that was settled only recently. In the meantime, Assassins holed up in their home studios to get the album back on track. “Some of the songs on the Arista record have been redone by us really drastically,” Kemp says. “It’s been an opportunity to take certain songs to places we couldn’t have taken them with Arista.”

“Looking back, the album would have been three-legged at that time,” Miller reflects. “It’s sort of better that it was never even attempted.” You Will Changed Us includes new material not originally slated for the Arista disc, and the band has written two more albums’ worth of material for future releases since the falling out. In the meantime, the Chicago music scene has been supportive as well. “On the one hand we feel like outsiders that don’t have a home,” Miller says. “We’re not particularly an Empty Bottle band, we’re not an emo band from the ’burbs…and yet, we have a little bit of warmth coming from all of those places.”

But after this weekend’s pair of release shows at Schubas, Assassins are taking their DIY promotions away from home—specifically, to the U.K., where they think they’ll have a better shot of gathering some buzz and signing to a good indie label than they might in the U.S. It seems chancey, but for a band that lucked into a major-label deal—even an ill-fated one—after only a handful of gigs, fate might just come knocking twice. “Every once in a while,” Lear says, “you meet someone who can change everything.”

Assassins play two shows at Schubas Saturday 26. You Will Changed Us is available at www.assassins.com.

By Antonia Simigis - Time Out Chicago


"The politics of major labels can't kill these Assassins"

The politics of major labels can't kill these Assassins

By Greg Kot
Tribune music critic
Published August 25, 2006

Joe Cassidy, a gifted singer and songwriter from Belfast who made Chicago his home a few years ago, couldn't be blamed if recent developments made him feel like a human yo-yo.

His band Assassins was getting attention from major record labels by the time they played their second show in 2002. Over the next four years they signed a deal, then had to fight to back out of it when things went sour. They recorded most of an album, then had to negotiate for the right to re-record most of it. Now, after way too many meetings with lawyers, the Assassins' debut is finally being released.

That album, "You Will Changed Us" (Chemicals Kill), isn't coming out on any of the big labels that courted the quintet when they were the talk of Chicago's club scene. Instead, the band is releasing it themselves, and are happier for it. Bottom line: the music, a furious cocktail of rock and electronic elements spiked with impressive songwriting and coed vocals, is first-rate.

Why pursue the do-it-yourself strategy after all the back-and-forth with the big boys?

"I'm infamous as a label killer," Cassidy says with a laugh. "Every label I've been on seems to die."

But Cassidy actually has a deep background on independent labels dating back to the mid-'80s when he was a teenager playing in England. That he caught the attention of the majors so early with Assassins is still something he finds hard to believe. "We thought it was a joke," he says. "A lot of bands get looked at by majors and nothing happens."

But then they got an offer with some real substance behind it. Assassins didn't just sign with a low-level talent scout, but with the president of Arista Records, Antonio "LA" Reid. Though Reid's expertise was in R&B, he genuinely loved the Assassins' blend of songs and sonics, and he was eager to give the label an identity beyond its affiliation with Whitney Houston and OutKast.

Then Reid got fired, Clive Davis took over, and the band was moved to RCA with a new A&R man dictating their future. Instead of a pet project by the label boss, band members saw themselves as second-tier priority and wanted out.

Their extrication was complicated because they had already recorded songs with an expensive producer, Stephen Hague (New Order, Pet Shop Boys), and it took a couple of years for both sides to iron out details. Eventually, Assassins won back their freedom and their music, and Arista got a cut of any Hague-produced music the band would eventually release.

It would've been understandable if Cassidy and his bandmates walked away. "There are basically two types of people in bands," Cassidy says. "There are the practical ones, who see it as a career thing. They want cars and mortgages. But I come from a breed of people that unless I can create and make music, I feel dead."

Cassidy was excited about the partnership he had forged with his fellow band members: Aaron Miller, Merritt Lear, David Golitko and Alex Kemp. One of the main reasons he stayed in Chicago is because he found a music scene that operated outside of fenced-in styles. He put together a band in that anything-can-happen spirit, a loose democracy with ideas flying via a continual process of remixing, rather than jamming.

"I'm not much of a rock guy," Cassidy says. "I prefer acoustic guitars, vocal harmonies and lots of string things. I write rock songs by accident, which is where Aaron comes in. We have this hybrid of beauty and ugliness. Put that against the electronics and it gets complicated and interesting. It's a group of people trying to outdo each other, and we don't know how any song will turn out when we begin. A beautiful ballad will end becoming this hardcore electronic track. It's one of the most challenging things any of us has ever been involved in."

That creativity has kept the band afloat. While doing remixes for people like TLC's Michelle Williams and Kill Hannah, band members have written enough music to fill two more albums. The collective production acumen is impressive. While they kept some Hague-produced tracks for "You Will Changed Us," they recut several and recorded new songs in their home studios that sound just as accomplished.

"Stephen Hague didn't have much of a chance to make a big impression because we already knew what we wanted," Cassidy says. "The fans have been extremely patient. They wanted music from us, and we finally have something to give them. We're done dilly-dallying."



Assassins

When: 7 and 10:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Schubas, 3159 N. Southport Ave.

Price: $10; 773-525-2508

----------

gregkot@aol.com

Greg Kot co-hosts "Sound Opinions" at 7 p.m. Saturdays on WBEZ-FM 91.5.

Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

- Chicago Tribune


Discography

Ep1 2004
Michelle Williams Assassins Remix 2005
Tommie Sunshine Assassins Remix 2005
Ep2 2005
Ep3 2005
You Will Changed US 2006
Kill Hannah Assassins Remix 2006

streaming and downloads available at...
www.assassins.com
streaming availble at www.myspace.com/assassins

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

In the early part of the millennium, Chicago's music scene was suffering from a crippling ennui. The city was hemorrhaging talent to the West and East Coasts and people were falling asleep in their ashtrays. Even the drugs were bland. But just beneath the surface, some were plotting quietly against the city's torpor.
Aaron Miller and Joe Cassidy were two such men. One blistering Chicago summer night, Miller stumbled upon a Cassidy solo performance and realized that these pushy, angular noises that had been banging around his ADD-rattled head might make a compelling, albeit unlikely, bedfellow to Cassidy’s music. His songs had unusual melodic and lyrical depth -- epic and heartbreaking while never losing a keen pop sensibility. Cassidy had moved to Chicago from his native Belfast to record an album and found himself ensconced in the indie music scene as both a respected artist and music producer. Upon meeting one another, Miller and Cassidy began an irreverent collaboration, mercilessly slicing and dicing each other’s ideas, producing their own demos and realizing that the two of them created something that was greater than the sum of its parts. These early tracks generated positive attention and it soon became clear that they’d need to expand their ranks.

Merritt Lear was a fuck-voiced singer who had the ability to make every single person in an audience utterly certain she was personally singing to them and, what's more, wanted to plant candy-sweet kisses down their neck. Having worked musically with Cassidy in the past, she had front row seats to the emerging project. She approached Cassidy and Miller with a four-string Fender Jazzmaster and a song, who threw it into the mix and it all worked. After joining the band, she quickly took over the role of live video editor using original and found footage to chop and loop into visual chaos to fire at the band as part of the live production.

Dave Golitko had been playing in bands with Aaron since high school. If keyboard playing was a girl, his would be the type you wouldn’t take home to Mother. Golitko could take a lackluster section of a song and he’d spit back an inferno. He also brought a formidable amount of technical expertise and was to pave the way for the band to create their trademark three-dimensional live sequencing.
 
 
Then came Alex Kemp, new to Chicago after tour-heavy years of work deep in New York's music scene. Alex had arrived an accomplished composer, producer and live bass player, but his experience with the dark art of engineering and mixing truly completed the picture. Not only had Assassins become a band — they were also now a fully self-sufficient production team. It was time to play.
 
 
With only word of mouth and a handful of demos being passed around on their side, the freshly minted band  were quickly granted opening club slots for Soundtrack of Our Lives, Adult., Jet, French Kicks, The Walkmen, Shiny Toy Guns, Hard-fi and Zwan.  The band was also handpicked by Peter Hook to be the sole opener at one of only four New Order performances in America.
 
After largely developing the record from their own home studios, the band spent six weeks in New York enlisting the help of veteran producer Stephen Hague and Radiohead engineer Graeme Stewart. They were then off to Virginia Beach to mix with Serban Ghenea (Neptunes).
 
Other notable projects along the way have included remixes for Kill Hannah, Tommie Sunshine and Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child and collaborations with effetely lovable British producer Damien Mendis (Gorillaz, Electric Six). The new single is currently being remixed by legendary UK mixer Dave Bascombe (Goldfrapp, Depeche Mode).

Assassins debut album, "You Will Changed Us" has just been released in the States on the bands imprint Chemicals Kill Records and the album will receive a full European release in January 2007.