Members: Rory, Ryan, John, Jamie, Steve
Hailing from Oakland and San Francisco, California, Communiqu is guitarist-songwriter Rory Henderson, bassist John Peck, guitarist Ryan Massey, drummer Jamie Kissinger, and keyboardist Steve Loewinsohn. The bands newest release is Walk Into the Light, an EP that not only showcases the dark lyrics, intricate layering, and transcendent melodies that have become Communiqus trademark, but also serves as the culmination of a musical campaign that began years ago in the bands punk roots.
In the mid-nineties, long-time friends Henderson, Massey, Peck and Kissinger formed the punk band American Steel. The band became known for its anomalous mix of razor-blade vocals and stirring melodies, and for its intensely personal and political lyrics. American Steel recorded three albums (American Steel, Rogues March, and Jagged Thoughts), toured relentlessly, and gained a loyal underground following. Their final show at 924 Gilman Street was a fond farewell conducted as a funeral, complete with dead roses and processional programs.
The dissolution of American Steel was the decisive and intentional ending of an era, clearing the way for a new project for its former members, who continued writing and playing together. This as-yet unnamed bands new songs retained American Steels contradictory elements of dark subject matter and transcendent melodies, and with the addition of newer sounds particularly the prominent use of keyboards the band began to foreground the folk, soul, and classic rock influences that had been present in its songs all along. Communiqu became official in 2003 with the release of their first EP, A Crescent Honeymoon, on Lookout Records. The band added a fifth member, keyboardist Cory Gowan, and toured with Minus the Bear, Ted Leo, and These Arms Are Snakes before returning to the studio in early 2004. The resulting album was Communiqus full-length debut, Poison Arrows.
Of the creative progression that led to Poison Arrows, Henderson, the bands primary songwriter, says, I became convinced that we had to try to write a really concise record, and furthermore, I wanted to really try to make the recording sound the way the songs sounded in my head from production down to performance, almost to prove to ourselves that we could set high goals and accomplish them. With Poison Arrows, we did just that. It took a lot of work and guitar Jenga, and required our skill level to finally start catching up to our ambitions.
Rolling Stone was effusive: ...jams like Perfect Weapon and Ouija Me shake with body-moving, catchy, almost disco-like grooves. The mighty opener The Best Lies and the thrilling racer Dagger Vision boast head-nodding, sweeping choruses. The band packs armfuls of big, youthful energy into the set... Communiqus music is poignant and charged, rock for the underdog. The video for Perfect Weapon received multiple spins on MTV2s Subterranean, and on the strength of the album, the band was invited on tour with a startlingly diverse array of bands: a US tour with Against Me in 2004, UK tours with Sugarcult, Taking Back Sunday, and My Chemical Romance in 2004 and early 2005, several weeks with The Honorary Title and Lucero in the spring, and a month-long tour with Tegan and Sara in the summer of 2005. In the fall of 2005, after a 10-month run on the road, the band returned home to learn that Lookout Records had cut operations and could no longer support its bands. Finding themselves newly without a label (and back to their original four-member formation after Corys departure), the band did what they had always done best: they began writing a new crop of songs. Old friend Steve Loewinsohn, of former Lookout band The Cost, joined the band on keyboards, and they returned to the studio in 2006. The result was Walk Into the Light, the bands first release since Poison Arrows.
Walk Into the Light is completely self-produced, and the recording has a tangible feeling of freedom and spontaneity. These five tracks represent a more unfettered approach to songwriting than in any other Communiqu release, from the dark, pulsing jangle of The Sad Valentine to the full-bore attack of Got Your Number. This new creative drive, of which Walk Into the Light is something of a preview, will come to full fruition when their second full length album is released in early 2007. Long a favorite amongst other musicians and insiders, Communiqu, a band of brothers through many years of trial and hardship, has fully realized its voice and soul, and is poised to win over the masses.