Maps and Atlases

Maps and Atlases

BandRockAvant-garde

We offer songs that wrestle themselves from flailing, algebraic fits of spazzy guitar notes and drum ruptures to lulling, voice-driven melodies that speak stories using lyrical images strung together like soup cans chasing a Cadillac.

Biography

Maps and Atlases are a Chicago band in the same sense as they are all members of the human race, and not just four assorted barnyard animals milling idly in a field (although the band’s guitarist, Erin Elders, has an odd obsession with horses). Maps and Atlases are, in fact, a composite of regional circumstance: They washed up on Chicago’s lakeshores, into its scampering arts community, from everywhere. Shiraz Dada (bass) is the only member actually from Chicago, whereas Chris Hainey (drums) arrived from Texas, Dave Davison (guitar/vocals) from Philadelphia, and Erin Elders (guitar) actually grew up in Maui. Thus, another movement comes wriggling out with a term like New Regionalism. Although Maps spawned itself in the Petri dish that is Chicago, its members aren’t convinced that their sound is a result thereof. “We are trying to create a blend of the technical and organic,” says Elders. The result of this objective? Songs that wrestle themselves from flailing, algebraic fits of spazzy guitar notes and drum ruptures to lulling, voice-driven melodies that speak stories using lyrical images strung together like soup cans chasing a Cadillac. Mostly influenced by experimental and technically adept musicians—Hella, Don Caballero, and Psych-Folkies Devendra Banhart and Joanna Newsom—Maps have likewise taken a multitude of creative tips from the visual and literary art mediums too. “Erin and I are both interested in the Objectivist poets, especially William Carlos Williams and George Oppen,” says Davison in reference to the band’s list-like, image-driven songwriting style. Much of the band’s lyrics are written collaboratively between Davison and Elders, using Dali-designed, Surrealist techniques like the Exquisite Corpse—a method by which the two build a concept writing in tandem, taking turns line by line. Typically there is a schizophrenic outcome to this kind of process, but Maps manage to embrace that quality by reinforcing it with unyielding melodies backboned by Dada’s ambitious bass dialogues with Hainey’s unrelenting percussive excursions.

The band formed in the fall of 2004 after meeting at art school in Chicago’s once-industrial South Loop. Elders and Hainey, childhood friends, were studying film and playing music together when bassist Shiraz Dada found them. He was studying audio recording and had been looking for other musicians to collaborate with—musicians whom were also interested in experimenting with sound. It wasn’t until Dave Davison came along that the band finally took its name: an ambiguous title that suggests a kind of guided pursuit, but also a journey or an expedition, which is where New Regionalism takes another shape. Because Maps are a band that is foremost interested in the craft of their music and how they deliver it to an audience, they have been, in effect, a Midwestern phenomenon. They have played shows—in the good company of other mid-American bands like Russian Circles, The Narrator, Karma with a K, The New Black—all over Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Indiana. (Maps and Atlases have been known to set up in a barn in southern Illinois and play, without question, for even a handful of kids.) In a sense, it is this type of regional containment that has shaped Maps’ character, but not necessarily their intent or their poetics.

The band’s first recording—Tree, Swallows, Houses—is testament to their uncompromising creative energy. Dada’s degree in Sound Recording enabled them to take on the project under their own terms: “Engineering our own record gave us the freedom and the time to get everything right, to do everything the way we wanted it done,” says Dada. Finally, with their record complete, Maps and Atlases have full-scale tours in their forecast. And it is with balloons tied to their wrists that they plan their departure from Chicago, from the burdens/comforts of region, and into the remaining pockets of the country—those they’ve yet to rifle through.

Discography

Tree, Swallows, Houses - EP (Self Released)

Set List

(30 Minute Set)

The Ongoing Horrible
The Most Trustworthy Tin Cans
Big Bopper Anthems
Stories about ourselves
The Sounds they make
Songs for Ghosts to haunt to
Every Place is a House