The Methods
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The Methods

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Music

The best kept secret in music

Press


By SARA CRESS
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle

When words fail us in our inelegant attempts to describe the connections between our lives and Something Bigger, what better than music to express our thoughts? Ambient music in particular, with its soft curves and enveloping sound, reflects that weird world of unanswered questions, a search for connectivity, and the darker reaches of the soul.

The Methods' ambient rock is peppered with the language of spirituality, Christianity in particular. There's a red flashing light in the liner notes: "You" and "His" are capitalized, which gives a line like "I call on You in the night" a specific meaning.

"Music is music," Methods guitarist Anthony Tran says. "If we were Buddhists, we wouldn't call ourselves a 'Buddhist band.' "

Bassist Marty Durlam adds: "We feel the lyrics are important — we have them on our Web site — but we're not preachers, and we're not trying to force anybody to do anything they don't want to do. What's in our heart comes out in our music."

The truth is, during a performance you wouldn't know that "You" is capitalized. And it's not a revival or a Bible study, it's a rock show in a bar.

Drummer Michael Le says "We grew up with Bjork, [Cocteau Twins], Fugazi, Melt Banana. That's what [musically ties] us together [-- and without denying our Faith]."

The Methods have been together for a year, but the members' history with one another goes back a few years earlier. Tran was living in Chicago and came to Houston to perform at a Christian music festival. Le, who was also performing, met Tran, and they developed a friendship. Their fathers are both pastors, they are both originally from Vietnam, and they liked the same music.

"He asked me, 'If I moved down here, would you form a band?' " Le recalls, still sounding shocked that Tran made such a bold move.

Tran and Le, looking for other players, put an ad on findjesusfreaks.com, an online Christian music community, and [found Marcus Mucha who Le and Tran instantly bonded with at first meeting]. Durlam came along about a year ago through a mutual friend.

"The first time we met, it was surreal," Durlam says. "We were all friends from the first minute."

The Methods' sound seems inspired by Cocteau Twins and Radiohead's prettier offerings. Mucha's lilting vocals (similar to Thom Yorke's) quietly break the surface of the vibrating guitars and repetitive motifs. The songs on the band's debut album, 2004's Realized Amidst Sorrow, aren't laden with messages because that's not what ambient rock lyrics are meant to do; rather, the lyrics set a mood, which is pretty dark. Save Me offers this gem: "I'm drowning in despair;" Unveiled has the speaker in "clumps of pain"; and even in the throes of Contentment, "we're climbing and grasping."

"There is darkness in everybody," Le says. "We are saying that there is sadness in life, but the message is that we're not going to stay there."

Realized Amidst Sorrow is to be the first of three related albums that will change "from black to gray to white," Durlam says. The idea was sparked by Tran's background in classical music (he plays and teaches guitar, bass, drums and violin); he views this album as just the first movement of the Methods' symphony.

"The next album will be lighter, and that's how we want to grow as a band," Le explains. "We want people to grow happier (as the songs progress)."

The album's final track, It Is Well With My Soul, points the way to the light. It is a 19th-century hymn that can't help but be the collection's most overtly religious song.

"We played [it] at a bar, and people were excited and screaming and stuff," Le says. "We thought it would be bad, but people aren't actually as 'anti' as you might expect them to be." - Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle (edited)


Interview by David A. Cobb
As featured on "Houston Calling" (donewaiting.com)
Sept. 27, 2004



"The Methods were simply incredible. This foursome's sound is reminiscent of Radiohead at times, but really only in the manner of their spacey guitars. After catching The Methods live a few times this year, I can honestly say that they're a great live act and a band that seems to not have any air of pretension about them. They put on an excellent show and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. A great find."

HC:
How did The Methods get started?

TM:
We felt like there was a vast amount of brilliant music the radio was not playing that we were drawn to. We were guys yearning to make creative and emotional music. It was a miracle how we discoverd one another -- one's from Chicago, one was discovered off the internet, and the other was introduced to us via another band.

HC:
What do you consider to be your musical influences?

TM:
Our influences combined hits a wide spectrum of genres ranging from Classical (Stravinsky, Chopin), Ambient (Cocteau Twins, Ester Drang), British-Pop (Coldplay, Doves, Radiohead, Delirious), Electronic-Orchestra (Bjork), Rock (Blindside, Smashing Pumpkins, Pedro The Lion, Fugazi), and a few hundred more.

HC:
You guys just started playing gigs around town less than a year ago. You've played everything from churches to coffee houses to clubs and even at U of H. How has your music been received in Houston so far?

TM:
From what we've experienced, there seems to be a consensus that our music tends to find a warmer reception with creative-type concert-goers; painters, poets, and other musicians and bands.

HC:
How would you best describe the sound of The Methods?

TM:
The Methods' sound is designed to reflect a "dark but melodic" mood--designed upon sound texture while creating an ambience hopefully not losing musical intensity.

HC:
Continuing that last question--what do you think about the music scene in Houston?

TM:
For starters, the music scene in Houston is so spread out, although the clubs in and around the underground districts seem to be a staple for bands like us. Houston in general seems to favor folk-rock and alternative bands. Anything ambient and experimental seems to find its home in the underground. However, it's getting more attention with the advent of indie bands coming together creating events like Dreamfest.

HC:
What's your take on the state of the music industry as a whole?

TM:
As for our take on the music industry, there seems to be a feeling that every band signed on to a major is almost guaranteed to have their CD produced in cookie cutter fashion. We think this is great because people are getting bored with the superficial, canned sound and looking in more obscure directions. Being an unsigned band, we feel like we are blessed because we have complete freedom to stay true to our musical selves and produce songs without conforming to a "sound standard" by some label controlled by some corporation ---- you know, the anonymous idea of having "artisitc freedom" as individuals and as a band.

HC:
Your songs seem to have a really positive message. How does your spirituality play into The Methods' music?

TM:
Our faith as Christians play an intricate part within our music. Faith has given us stability during all the shifting our emotions put us through. Injecting this reality into our songs is especially important since it is a reflection of our human nature. Like Hurricane Carter once said "...bitterness consumes the vessel that contains it" so the need to to replace "hopelessness" with "Hope" is a vital topic for us. We wouldn't want anyone to "feel" things couldn't get better.

HC:
Are you for or against the MP3 "revolution"? How are you using the internet as a tool to market yourself?

TM:
It's obvious we have to agree that downloading copyrighted material is theft of intellectual property--but at the same time, the "MP3-revolutionaries" ironically are providing an indirect platform for "underground marketing" of unknown/unsigned artists. For example, almost all results from an MP3 search end up inadvertently listing unknown artist(s); bringing attention to their existence. We think the internet is an extremely important platform for us to let people outside of Houston hear The Methods' materials by downloading songs off the site and obtaining information about the band.

HC:
What's in store for The Methods in 2004?

TM:
After finishing up our debut CD and playing a vast number of local gigs, we're so ready for new songs and continuing our desire to refine our sound --- especially after meeting so many great and creative bands who have been more than inspiring and really supportive of the independent music scene. - Houston Calling, www.donewaiting.com


Discography

Realized Amidst Sorrow, 2004

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

Interview by David A. Cobb
As featured on "Houston Calling" (donewaiting.com)
Sept. 27, 2004
"The Methods were simply incredible. This foursome's sound is reminiscent of Radiohead at times, but really only in the manner of their spacey guitars. After catching The Methods live a few times this year, I can honestly say that they're a great live act and a band that seems to not have any air of pretension about them. They put on an excellent show and the crowd seemed to enjoy it. A great find."
HC:
How did The Methods get started?
TM:
We felt like there was a vast amount of brilliant music the radio was not playing that we were drawn to. We were guys yearning to make creative and emotional music. It was a miracle how we discoverd one another -- one's from Chicago, one was discovered off the internet, and the other was introduced to us via another band.
HC:
What do you consider to be your musical influences?
TM:
Our influences combined hits a wide spectrum of genres ranging from Classical (Stravinsky, Chopin), Ambient (Cocteau Twins, Ester Drang), British-Pop (Coldplay, Doves, Radiohead, Delirious), Electronic-Orchestra (Bjork), Rock (Blindside, Smashing Pumpkins, Pedro The Lion, Fugazi), and a few hundred more.
HC:
You guys just started playing gigs around town less than a year ago. You've played everything from churches to coffee houses to clubs and even at U of H. How has your music been received in Houston so far?
TM:
From what we've experienced, there seems to be a consensus that our music tends to find a warmer reception with creative-type concert-goers; painters, poets, and other musicians and bands.
HC:
How would you best describe the sound of The Methods?
TM:
The Methods' sound is designed to reflect a "dark but melodic" mood--designed upon sound texture while creating an ambience hopefully not losing musical intensity.
HC:
Continuing that last question--what do you think about the music scene in Houston?
TM:
For starters, the music scene in Houston is so spread out, although the clubs in and around the underground districts seem to be a staple for bands like us. Houston in general seems to favor folk-rock and alternative bands. Anything ambient and experimental seems to find its home in the underground. However, it's getting more attention with the advent of indie bands coming together creating events like Dreamfest.
HC:
What's your take on the state of the music industry as a whole?
TM:
As for our take on the music industry, there seems to be a feeling that every band signed on to a major is almost guaranteed to have their CD produced in cookie cutter fashion. We think this is great because people are getting bored with the superficial, canned sound and looking in more obscure directions. Being an unsigned band, we feel like we are blessed because we have complete freedom to stay true to our musical selves and produce songs without conforming to a "sound standard" by some label controlled by some corporation ---- you know, the anonymous idea of having "artisitc freedom" as individuals and as a band.
HC:
Your songs seem to have a really positive message. How does your spirituality play into The Methods' music?
TM:
Our faith as Christians play an intricate part within our music. Faith has given us stability during all the shifting our emotions put us through. Injecting this reality into our songs is especially important since it is a reflection of our human nature. Like Hurricane Carter once said "...bitterness consumes the vessel that contains it" so the need to to replace "hopelessness" with "Hope" is a vital topic for us. We wouldn't want anyone to "feel" things couldn't get better.
HC:
Are you for or against the MP3 "revolution"? How are you using the internet as a tool to market yourself?
TM:
It's obvious we have to agree that downloading copyrighted material is theft of intellectual property--but at the same time, the "MP3-revolutionaries" ironically are providing an indirect platform for "underground marketing" of unknown/unsigned artists. For example, almost all results from an MP3 search end up inadvertently listing unknown artist(s); bringing attention to their existence. We think the internet is an extremely important platform for us to let people outside of Houston hear The Methods' materials by downloading songs off the site and obtaining information about the band.
HC:
What's in store for The Methods in 2004?
TM:
After finishing up our debut CD and playing a vast number of local gigs, we're so ready for new songs and continuing our desire to refine our sound --- especially after meeting so many great and creative bands who have been more than inspiring and really supportive of the independent music scene.