Butterfly Assassins
Gig Seeker Pro

Butterfly Assassins


Band Rock Alternative


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Butterfly Assassins: The new wings ain’t bad"

Lisa Balde
Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Bryan Kveton has an astronomy test in like an hour, but that’s the least of what’s weighing on his mind. For starters, his band, the Butterfly Assassins, is spread across three towns in two states and is trying to finish its first full-length album. This is the album, by the way, that the Assassins told their new-ish label – New York-based Old Flame Records – they’d have by the end of summer and Kveton now hopes will be released by the beginning of next year. Not that the label’s been hassling the band about it, or about anything for that matter. In fact, Kveton calls Old Flame’s owners “a blast to hang out with.” (“I thought they’d be 40- or 50-year-old record people,” he says, “but they’re young guys; they’re in their mid-20s.”)

But still … summer recording has turned into fall mixing sessions and winter final touches. It’s a lot of pressure for a band who happens to be the first act signed to Old Flame, a label built to accommodate the Butterfly Assassins in particular. Oh, and the band is still personally reeling from a name change in February from What Four, the moniker the four founders and friends agreed on way back in eighth grade. On top of it all, Kveton’s talking to me from a hundred miles away from his Grayslake hometown at the University of Illinois in Champaign, and he has an astronomy test in like an hour.

“It seems like all of us in the band are treating this album as life or death,” Kveton laughs, but is still completely serious. He admits that their first label-backed release is a nerve-wracking ordeal. After all, the Assassins have been at it since before high school and have honed their sound from a battle-of-the-bands, pop-punk mish mash a la Blink-182 to an impressively piano-driven pop symphony that exudes the energy of Muse but sounds so creatively akin to acts like Cursive and Murder By Death that it’s a mystery why this band isn’t already on MTV’s Subterranean. All things considered, this album is a huge step. It’s a result of undeterred risk-taking that no doubt could validate the Assassins’ out-of-the-box persona. Thankfully, the creative results -- or what MySpace listeners have heard of it so far -- are a sophisticated drama of bold, bouncing pop music that follows storylines that are at once uplifting and guiltily enchanting.

I wish I were exaggerating. Singer/piano virtuoso Brian Trahan – who was classically trained, according to Kveton – slings vocals as fluidly as The Shins’ James Russell Mercer. His imaginary heroine, a young Russian gal named Sylvia, is a sort of mascot for the band’s blossoming style. She made her debut in the Assassins’ self-titled EP as a cooped up – and we suspect, lovelorn – soul staring at an old man who eventually dies. Sylvia returns in the form of “Sylvia II” on the band’s forthcoming album as she emerges back into rigid society, post-cocoon. Her theme is a sort of kicked-up rendition of Mary Tyler Moore’s hat-throwing “you’re going to make it after all” mantra (before the song ends with any echoing thunderstorm), but it’s done with such cello-booming grace that Old Flame’s execs would be silly not to pinpoint the song as a SXSW-bound single.

“We figured out that a lot of the (classical) chord progressions can be brought into the music we want to write,” Kveton says.

It hasn’t always been that cut-and-dry, though. Like I said, they started their journey playing Blink-182 covers. But the high-school/college transition did wonders for these childhood friends, who’ve known each other since toddler-hood. It essentially elevated them from backyard barbecues to winning the Illinois State Teen Battle of the Bands and opening for Hanson at the House of Blues (“It was ridiculous!,” Kveton says of the pre-show Hanson experience). Last October, the band received news that the owners of Old Flame would be flying in from New York to “check them out” at Gunther Murphy’s in Chicago. “We had no idea who these guys were,” Kveton says.

By then, the Butterfly Assassins had settled into college, content with the fact that splitting up among U of I (Kveton and drummer Dylan Fischer), Northwestern (bassist Dan Yadron) and the University of Michigan (Trahan and newly added cellist Kate Wakefield) hadn’t split up the band. Upon high school graduation, they’d tirelessly tried to land a record deal – anything to prevent college from translating into “four-year hiatus” for the music. Turns out, higher education didn’t deter them at all. Though writing takes a little longer these days and recording has gone on a bit longer than they’d like, they haven’t stopped playing shows and don’t intend to anytime soon. Especially not after Old Flame officially releases the album, only a year after What Four changed their name to the Butterfly Assassins.

A note about the name change: Don’t ask fans to help decide your new name. It doesn’t work.

“We were really, really, really stressed out by it,” Kveton says. “Of course, everybody’s a critic.”

So they did what any reasonably irrational group of friends would do after they’d just been signed to a label the previous fall and whose progressive instrumental sound no longer complied with an eighth grade wet dream. They locked the fans out of the process: “We’re going to change the name and people are just going to deal with it.”

And so flies the Butterfly Assassins, a swirling, buzzing, swooping symphony of pop grace that we predict will more than likely glide into 2008’s local-music vernacular with appropriate ease and devotion. And let’s not forget that they’re still only college sophomores.

That reminds Kveton: Time’s up. His astronomy test is nigh. - Beep Magazine (Daily Herald, Chicago)

"Top 8 Chicago Bands to Watch in 2008"

Butterfly Assassins

Band Most Likely to … make friends with Pitchfork Media

You're a fan if you like: Cursive, Muse, Queen

See them: 10 p.m. today at Canopy Club in Champaign with The Rikters; tickets: $7 at the door

Not even college can stop this orchestral crew of chamber-punk gangbusters, who spread across three universities in two states after they banded under the name What Four during high school. Weekends, spring break and summer vacations have sufficed to grab the attention of a few interested labels, putting Butterfly Assassins on the map to possibly take their new, Old Flame Records-produced EP and dramatic instrumental interludes to L.A. sometime soon. Frankly, Butterfly Assassins sounds like such a violent name for this vaudeville-piercing five-piece, a group of overachievers who almost certainly found solace in the high school band room. But we assure new listeners that if ever such a delicate thing as a keyboard were to be shredded with the enthusiasm of a Husker Du chain-saw massacre, singer Brian Trahan is the guy to do it.

- The Daily Herald

""Rock Fusion" Movement"

Rock musicians have always played with other genres and different instrumentations, but it seems that, of late, fans and critics have been heaping extra attention on such groups. Three bands about to perform in Chicago are good examples of this possible trend and are worth checking out:

A young Chicago-based band apparently comprised of a group of former high school band geek friends, Butterfly Assassins infuses classical elements into its otherwise standard but catchy and lively rock songs. They've won several battle-of-the-band competitions in Illinois and reportedly have the ear of Ed Stasium, a Grammy award-winning producer and engineer who's worked with The Ramones. They perform Saturday at 9:30 @ Subterranean ($8).

- Gapers Block

"Blog Review"

Combining ambitious songwriting with symphonic tendencies is usually a recipe for pretentious twaddle, but Butterfly Assassins are breaking the mold. The five band members are split between three schools but still found time to record a full length album titled “Sylvia,” out now on Old Flame Records. You can buy direct through their MySpace page.

This is like Divine Comedy colliding headfirst with Murder By Death - noir symphony!

MP3: Butterfly Assassins - Sylvia II

If your significant other is always on you about broadening your horizons and taking in some classical concerts, well they’ve also got some live shows coming up. If there are stringed instruments not made by Les Paul or Leo Fender, it counts - those are the RockSellout rules! Dress up and have a better night out with these guys than you would with those snooty ushers:

- Rocksellout.com

"RedEye Feature"

Butterfly Assassins traded the orchestra pit for the mosh pit.

The band's songs feature Bach-ian crescendos built by guitar and cello, punctuated by staccato blasts of piano and drums. It begs to accompany a dramatic movie scene. The sound evokes other bands with orchestral arrangements, such as the Arcade Fire.

"We saw them and said, 'There are other people doing this and it is possible, and we can make it work,' " Butterfly Assassins' guitarist Bryan Kveton said.

Kveton, drummer Dylan Fischer, pianist and lead vocalist Brian Trahan, and bassist Danny Yadron grew up in Grayslake, taking orchestra or band classes in school and playing together for fun. They coalesced as a band in 2002, and cellist Kate Wakefield joined about a year ago.

The quintet released its first LP, "Sylvia," in April. While the classical influence remained intact, it was less obvious than on the band's 2006 self-released EP, which featured songs such as "Prelude No. 1 in D Minor." Yadron said the band's epic style was not a conscious choice and more an extension of the members' backgrounds.

"Even as late as 2006, we were writing extremely typical four-chord pop songs," Yadron said. "We were still trying to figure it out."

All the members are in college, so breaks are the easiest time to play live and write songs. This summer could be a big one; the band recently won a few competitions, filmed its first music video and scheduled several shows.

"We'd like to be as big as we can be," Kveton said. "I think we're noticing more attention slowly, and hopefully that's going to a good place."

- RedEye (Chicago Tribune)

"Metromix Chicago Weekend Concert Picks"

As for a show to catch on Saturday, we don't need to tell you more about Butterfly Assassins. (We already masssively hyped them on their way to impressing Metromix readers and eventually playing our Rock 'n' Vote show at Double Door.) Just know that the epic indie rockers headline this weekend at Reggie's, and if you couldn't make it to Rock 'n' Vote, you won't want to miss another chance to hear the beautifully pounding, classically influenced theatrics that the young quintet delivers on record and on stage. Click here for show info - Metromix 5/15/2008

"Metro Show Plug 12/31/07"

Death By Butterfly
12.31.2007 in Concert by Kara

I have to admit, usually when someone mentions the words "concept album," i start sprinting the other way. But Butterfly Assassins might be one to something.

The Chicago quintet, which features the indie rock dream line-up of rock instrumentation plus piano and cello, has an upcoming concept album, Sylvia, due this winter on Old Flame Records. According to their press, the album revolves around a turn-of-the-century Russian gal named Sylvia who spends over a decade staring across a table at an old man (as turn-of-the-century Russians are wont to do). But melancholy won't do for our Sylvia, and she busts out for adventure in the 19th-century world. But you know, it kind of, well, rocks in a moody, melodic, and grandiose, Arcade Fire-meets-Queen kind of way.

Check out their upcoming show at the Metro with The Lifeline and Absent Star on Friday, January 11. The admission is free if you snag the flyer from the band's MySpace page before 8:00 p.m. - Transmission/Gapers Block

"Live Show Review- Schubas, Chicago 8/9/2007"

Chicago’s own Butterfly Assassins were up next, wowing the audience with their high energy. Every band member was in motion. A mop of hair covered celloist Kate Wakefield’s face, guitarist Bryan Kveton sang through a megaphone, and lead singer/keyboardist pounded away at the keys, moving from keyboard to keyboard and sometimes kneeling to play – it was like watching an indie Liberace.

- nodesertforyou.com

"St. Louis Tour Stop Preview 8/15/08"

With reference points ranging from Ugly Organ-era Cursive and Interpol to the cinematic scores of Danny Elfman, Chicago's Butterfly Assassins pen dramatic pop tunes that, despite the complexity of their arrangements, remain perfectly in control even when teetering on the edge of madness. Silvia, the band’s Old Flame Records debut, relies heavily on lush instrumentation via cello and verbed-out piano without robbing Brian Trahan's powerful pipes and well-executed vibrato of their due respect. Although the addition of strings and keys is nothing new in this post-Arcade Fire "more is more" indie climate, these instruments tend to add a sinister quality to the group rather than upping its pretty quotient. As the band's name would imply, it would rather murder the butterfly than revel in its beauty.
- River Front Times

"Time Out Chicago Blurb"

The Assassins may float like a butterfly, but they sting like a bee. Alternating among punk-cabaret, classical and full-on anthemic rock, the band was described best by Thax Douglas: “like someone built a beautiful ballroom inside your home.” - Time Out Chicago


Sylvia (Old Flame Records 2008)
Self Titled EP (2006)



Classical pianos and blistering guitars meld together to create an insatiably full sound...familiar, and yet so inventively different that it has the insane ability to convert a new listener upon first listen.

Butterfly Assassins (Brian Trahan, Bryan Kveton, Danny Yadron, Dylan Fischer) have been molding their unique sound since early 2002. These boyhood friends honed their skills in the jazz band room and in the orchestra pit, however they first developed their sound and chemistry while playing in the sandbox. Cellist Kate Wakefield met the band in their first year in college and was was later added as a fifth member of the band.

Says the band of their upcoming album "There’s a concept, a feel, a style, and a strange fascination with a Russian woman named Sylvia. It has an amount of artistic ambition that we’re dying to get on tape. The sound is definitely much more complex and more intense, leaving room to expand."

Butterfly Assassins self released an EP in 2006 and are currently signed with New York indie label Old Flame Records. Assassins are currently pushing their new full-length album, Sylvia, which made its debut on Old Flame Records April 1st of 2008.