Working Breed
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Working Breed

Pittsburgh, PA | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Pittsburgh, PA | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Rock Glam Rock




"Working Breed's New Release "Hieroglyphica""

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania art rock quintet Working Breed are about to unleash their debut album “Hieroglyphica”. With their diverse and eclectic sound, the band plans to hit the stage hard and heavy Saturday, August 24th in support of their blood, sweat, and tears.

Let’s make this clear, upon a passing glance “Hieroglyphica” sounds and gleams like a top 40 alternative album, but below the surface lies many complex layers that shift and sway seamlessly. Imagine this: Norah Jones and Dave Matthews in the studio passing a blunt back and forth while vibing to the boisterous radio theatrics of Queen and the modern art rock of A Perfect Circle in their more derivative, melancholy moments. It sounds crazy and a lot to take in, but with each listen one begins to pick out more and more pieces to the puzzle that is Working Breed. With accessible, yet progressive songwriting, the band mash together their influences to create a very cohesive and commanding product. Despite all the various styles and influences that come to play here…..the band say it best in opening track “MO FO RO RO”: That’s motherfucking rock and roll. The guitars bust out catchy and melodic guitar work, ripping through the occasional solo when it’s time to shine, the bass punchy with funk and technical ability, the keyboards and horn section adding their touch to the overall vibe of things, whilst the drums hold everything together to keep the proper ebb and flow fluid. The vocals take the center stage most of album and for good reason. Showing prominent skills with dynamic and control, they navigate the band gracefully throughout the album. Make no mistake, despite the albums poppy and uplifting nature musically, the vocals and lyrics dictate a very emotional dichotomy amongst their delivery and lyrical content. There’s a lot of catharsis, tongue in cheek humor, and room for interpretation for one to sink their teeth into; rounding out the album as a whole perfectly.

The album as a whole is meant to be listened to front to back, displaying a story like set up with interludes in between tracks. The 2 stand out tracks that offer a glimpse into the album’s character are the ethereal lead single “Turtle Race” and the jazz prog epic “My Chimera”. “Turtle Race” is an emotional journey of love and loss that weighs heavy in the atmosphere. Beautiful picked guitar melodies and strings pave the way for one of the best vocal performances and lyrics the album has to offer. Gut wrenching turmoil and heartache gush as the band builds and erupts over the unconventional structure of this 7 minute epic. “My Chimera” offers a different side of the spectrum for the band. Adult contemporary riddled melodies dance with driving swagger, bringing out some of the poppier moments in the album. Mid way through the track the band comes to a halt as it seems like the song is over. With a pause the band comes back in with a tasteful jazz jam session before coming back to the track’s original gusto and timbre. The hook alone will be stuck in your head for days with its harmonious vocal work.

With a promising debut like “Hieroglyphica”, I have a good feeling the band’s hard work is going to pay off. With top notch production and performances all around, it’s only up from here. - First Angel Media

"Working Breed - "Orange Fluff""

Who says summer has to end just because September has rolled around? Working Breed brings us an upbeat, super fun, surf rock tune with their new song “Orange Fluff”! Upbeat vocals instantly catch listener’s attention. The song takes an unexpected turn towards the bridge, with a circus like melody coming into play and theatrical spoken word keeping listeners enthralled. The beat and energy pick up again after this, leaving audience members wanting more from this lively band! - Hot Lunch Music

"Working Breed’s “Turtle Race” is a Darkly Ethereal Internal Dialogue of Personal Liberation From a Toxic Relationship"

“Turtle Race” from Working Breed’s new album Hieroglyphica is like a symbolic dialogue with aspects of oneself. Set to a slow, processional pace the earlier parts of the song are a prelude to when the pace picks up along with the vocal narrative. One of the aspects of personality represented sings of a yearning for not living a life in perpetual stasis and wondering when the time will come when she’s ready to act on buried wishes and if she’ll even recognize the opportunity to act. The accompanying music video reveals further aspects of the song suggesting the story of a kept woman who a wealthy man thinks he can keep under glass while he pursues other women with the promise of the privileges his status can bring her. But the triple characters of the “Mind,” “Astral” and “Real Life” Erika, played of course by Working Breed frontwoman Erika Laing, reject that value system in favor of her own dignity and finally comes to see the “brick of gold,” “country club” and “palisade” as ersatz symbols of devotion. In the end of the video Erika sheds the outer signs of her relationship to be free. It would be difficult to sum up what style of music one might call “Turtle Race” but fans of Sunshine Blind and The Dresden Dolls will appreciate the baroque pop and musical theater aspects of the song as well as its darkly ethereal mood. - Queen City Sounds and Art

"‘I like surprises’: Working Breed’s debut album is full of ’em"

The members of Working Breed enjoy that the band’s name reflects the history and sensibilities of their Pittsburgh home.

But if you expect their music to be workmanlike, think again.

“I like surprises,” the band’s lead vocalist said. “I like to give the audience an experience that they haven’t had before. Maybe.”

She’s Erika June Christina Laing, as listed in the credits for Working Breed’s debut album, “Hieroglyphica.” And given her penchant for the unconventional, the Brookline resident plays a variety of instruments including musical saw and “Mimosa Pudica Plant Sonification & Speech Synthesis.”


“We were all done with everything on the album,” she said about the three-and-a-half year process leading up to its release. “But at the last second, I was like, ‘Guys, I have an idea.’”

She had written a song called “Sensitive Plant” – that’s Mimosa pudica, also known as shameplant, which folds inward when touched – and decided she wanted to record an intro for the album version involving said species.

Now, keep in mind that in her professional life, Laing is a project scientist in Carnegie Mellon University’s Machine Learning Department, plus she’s a clinical associate at the UMPC Brain Mapping Center.

“I got three,” she said about her Mimosa pudica. “I brought them home, and I did my little electromagnetic readings on them, like I do for the brain.”

The resulting sounds made for great musical accompaniment.

“They are the readings of the plant and the world right around it,” she said. “And they’re tiny, tiny, tiny, tiny magnetic fields. But I took the readings and I scaled them up into the audible spectrum. So what you’re listening to sounds like white noise, but what you’re really listening to is the magnetic fields around this plant.

“Then on top of that,” she added, “I made this little silly poem that is synthesized speech, because supposedly what the plant feels is really hard to understand.”

OK, now that you have a small taste of what “Hieroglyphica” is about, you can check out Working Breed when it plays the album in its entirety during a release show scheduled for Aug. 24 at Thunderbird Café & Music Hall in Lawrenceville.

Along with Laing, members of the band are Mt. Lebanon High School graduates Michael Dugan on guitar and Jonah Petrelli on bass, plus keyboard player Chloe Wieczorek and drummer Jeremy Papay. All seven of the full-length songs on “Hieroglyphica” have the music credited to Working Breed as a whole.

“We don’t think of the band as being about any one particular person,” Laing said. “It’s an entity. It’s all of us. And because of that, we don’t want to ignore anybody as a player.”

So many of the tracks on the album stretch out with good, old-fashioned instrumental solos.

“There are a ton of talented players in the band, and it’s cool to showcase everybody’s abilities,” Dugan said.

And from his perspective as a guitarist, “A lot of the stuff in Working Breed stretches me and gets me out of my comfort zone, and really is not easy at times. It can prove to be really difficult. But it’s a labor of love, and you work on it and end up really appreciating it.”

Unfortunately, work on “Hieroglyphica” took place during a period in which three band members lost parents to cancer.

“I had already decided to go back to Florida to spend time with my dad,” Laing recalled, “and we decided that would be the perfect time to start a record, for some reason.

“For me, at least, it was great, because it kept me involved up here with these guys and they were super awesome about always being there for me,” she said. “I would come back every six weeks, and we’d work a little on the record and we’d have a show.”

A main reason for the project’s length was the band members’ desire to present a product of high-quality audio, and they credit co-producer Matt Vaughan, another Mt. Lebanon High School graduate, with a significant role in achieving the goal.

“He had a good ear to help us through this whole experience,” Laing said. “We mixed it so we were so happy, and then we sent that best thing ever that we could make to Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road.”

Yes, that’s right. “Hieroglyphica” was mastered by a sound engineer – he also has worked with the likes of Elton John, Joy Division and Blur – at the London recording studio made famous by the Beatles.

And the combined effort shows, from the crystal-clear keyboards that accentuate the start of “Mo Fo Ro Ro,” the album’s opening track, through the 12 seconds of the final note Laing sings in the closer, “Orange Fluff.”

Along the way is a unified concept, in the band’s words, “formed through jaunty songs of independence, histrionic ballads of heartache and reverent tributes to healing.”

“Turtle Race,” for which the band made an acclaimed video, addresses betrayal – “She can have your entire being” – and features an often-applicable assessment of love that’s unprintable here.

Similar language shows up in a different form on “Mo Fo Ro Ro,” with Petrelli’s lyrics using a certain expletive as a celebration of what always has been at the core of rock ’n’ roll.

Perhaps Working Breed’s outside-the-box approach best is represented with “My Chimera,” which features Laing’s trombone playing through a jazzy track that verges on torch song territory in the middle before the main theme re-emerges to include a scorching solo by Dugan.

Listeners to Pittsburgh FM stations WYEP and WDVE already have heard Working Breed through their playing of “My Chimera,” and now the full “Hieroglyphica” – named for a species of cicada that Laing also sampled for the album – will be available.

The release show features opening act Cello Fury, a progressive rock band featuring three cellists and a drummer, at 8 p.m., followed by the Stranger Dangerous Circus Sideshow.

Working Breed takes the stage at 9:30 with guest musicians on horn and cello, plus a full production theme and set design.

“It’s an eclectic night for celebrating an eclectic album,” Laing said, to which Dugan added:

“From an eclectic band.” - The Almanac

"ICYMI: New Notable Releases from Working Breed, Gator Shakes, and other Pittsburgh artists"

Working Breed celebrated the release of Hieroglyphica, the art-rock group's first full-length album, with a release party at Thunderbird Café & Music Hall on Saturday. Weaving together jazz, surf-rock, and even spoken word, Hieroglyphica features an electric mix of instrumentation and sound samples, like the trombone, trumpet, musical saw, ancient Chinese sheng, cicada samples, and even synthetic whispered speech layered on top of a recording of the magnetic fields of a Mimosa Pudica plant.

"I’ve always been drawn to unusual sources of sound, particularly those that are historical or come from nature,” explained frontwoman Erika June Christina Laing on Bandcamp. - Pittsburgh City Paper

"Local Scene"

Erika Laing fronts the Pittsburgh rock band with a rangy jazz-lounge delivery, while guitarist Michael Dugan, bassist Jonah Petrelli, keyboardist Chloe Wiecz and drummer Jeremy Papay stand ready to take off on wild, quirky tangents on songs that run the spectrum from torch ballads to surf-rock. - Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Daily Yinz - Working Breed - Cicada"

Working Breed are a Pittsburgh rock group whose proggy musical flourishes and niche lyrical conceits lend their music an experimental flavor.

Working Breed’s new release Hieroglyphica is a loose concept album named after a species of cicada, the latest in a historical line of artistic pursuits (including Hesiodic poetry, ancient Chinese artwork, and Argentinian protest music) to draw inspiration from the Cicadoidea insect superfamily. It makes sense, then, that the album would include a song called “Cicada.” The track is a waltz that shifts between soulful, atmospheric verses and an explosive chorus, Erika June Christina Laing’s voice and Michael Dugan’s guitar singing a smoldering blues duet before erupting into glorious power balladry; at the song’s emotional peak, Laing begs an unnamed person to “Please/please/please/Just break my heart.” It hurts so good!

Working Breed classify their music as art rock, and “Cicada”s muggy cicada call samples and spooky singing saw (the alien spaceship instrument from your favorite childhood cartoons) are certainly unusual, but the closest comp for me would have to be eccentric Texas rockers Fair To Midland, who, interestingly, also named an album after an insect. Give “Cicada” and the rest of Hieroglyphica a listen if you like rock music with an avant-garde touch. - Bored in Pittsburgh

"Working Breed to Debut Stunning New Music Video for New Song "Turtle Race""

"Consider this mask ripped off and shredded. From the initial unsettling warble of Laing’s musical saw to her high keening cry at song’s end, you can feel her pain and grief coursing through every note, every word, every shot. With “Turtle Race,” Working Breed demonstrates the boldness and boundary-pushing of younger artists alongside the pain and maturity and self-awareness of more experienced ones. The results, especially when paired with the adept film crew they recruited, are magic." - Sound Scene Express; Melanie Stangl

"Working Like a Dog"

“To me, they’re like Steely Dan turned up to 11 and rocking out in a Prohibition-era speakeasy. Working Breed is a level of tight that you don’t normally get outside of a major act doing a stadium tour. It’s almost like the members of Working Breed were born playing their instruments.” - First Angel Media; Suzanne DeCree

"Making Meaning: Working Breed on "Turtle Race""

"It’s so interesting to learn about the process of creation – from sad guitar lick and tumbling lyrics to trial by live performance to expression through visual narrative. This song and video illustrate the healing power of music." - Of Music and Mind; Allison Kacmar Richards

"Meeting of Important People and Working Breed Kick Off Summer Fridays at the Frick"

“To put it simply, no one else is doing what Working Breed is doing. Describing their genre as “art rock,” the band transitions between instruments, tempos, and styles (often within the same song) with creativity, cohesion, and apparent ease. They embrace classic jazz, powerful rock, and groovy funk, and wrap it all up in pop packaging that, due to each member’s skill at their respective instruments, never feels cliché.” - Sound Scene Express; Melanie Stangl


NEW ALBUM due out early 2023: Gaslighter

Album Releases:
Hieroglyphica (2019)

Single Releases:
My Chimera / Turtle Race (2018)

Method: Observation (2015)
Live from WRCT (2014)



Working Breed is a scintillating quartet that writes original and eclectic Glam Rock with pop edges full of surprises. The band is a true aural amalgamation of minds. Frontwoman Erika June Christina Laing brings quirk through her gymnastic vocals and playful incorporation of trombone, trumpet, and musical saw, all supported by a solid base of emotive rock from guitarist Michael Dugan, clever pop tastes from bassist Jake Churton, and big-top precision from drummer Jeremy Papay. Since their inception in 2014 they’ve played hundreds of shows as they’ve headlined local festivals and opened for national touring acts such as Jefferson StarshipWild Child, Low Cut Connie, Jessica Hernandez and the Deltas, and Start Making Sense (Talking Head Tribute). Their second full-length album, Gaslighter, is set to release in early 2023.

Band Members