Members: Erin Fowler, Stich Bitterman, Moe Jarrent
How do you create and hold together a strong original band? Bethlehem, PA's Conduit is a fairly typical story. The members of Conduit had been kicking around stages and studios in a variety of Eastern Pennsylvania bands for the last few years. A chance meeting brought them together as they were recording different projects in the same studio. "Conduit" is often defined as a channel used to transport items or information from one area to another. The band began channeling a variety of influences when they came together in 2005. A touch of indie attitude, a splash of funk rock and a blender full of quirky songs was the result.
"The band is definitely the sum of its parts," says Stich Bitterman, one of the band's songwriters. "Working separately, we each had different styles and influences. When we worked together, we built songs that constantly changed in the writing process as each of us added something new." This crash of influences is evident on their first full length CD Superior Olive (Velvet Wrinkle Wreckerds). Songs are built around rolling percussive beats, whether that comes from drums, guitars or vocals. What ties all the songs on the CD together are the multi-layered vocals of singer Erin Fowler, a Houston, Texas, native. Moe Jerant, the third member of Conduit, held everything together and was the band's resident "beat master".
The CD recording was finished and ready to go in the closing days of 2007. Then, as is the story with many bands, fate stepped in and made some changes. "The original lineup of the band was very much a studio project." says Bitterman. "When we started to put together a live band, things changed." Jerant left the lineup to pursue other opportunities. The remaining band members put together a six-piece lineup to cover the songs on the CD. They started to get some local press and a growing following but that lineup didn't hold up. "The label we were with decided to hold off releasing the CD until we had a fairly solid live band, which sounds easier than it is." says Bitterman. "They weren't sure they wanted to release the CD with the band lineup in limbo. All of a sudden you look up and a few years have gone by. We've gone through a couple of variations again this year." The down time did give the band time to woodshed new songs. The new songs have a different feel because they were developed live during practices and shows. In the mean time the evolution of the live band continued. The current band plays as a classic four piece. "The songs have grown and changed. We're much more aggressive as a live band. A lot of the songs have changed time signatures and tempo". They finally parted ways with their original label and joined local label Velvet Wrinkle Wreckerds who hope to release the CD in 2011.
Lyrically, the band mixes tales of life observed from a variety of angles, touching the strange pathways of everyday living. The most upbeat songs musically often hide the darkest lyrics. Asked if he could categorize the bandâs sound, Bitterman shrugged and said, "I'm sure someone will listen to it and be able to attach a label. For us, we'd rather play the songs than review them." Superior Olive is a great starting point. If you're looking for a little variety in your listening, Conduit is one band you should check out.