Influencing Originality: The Helio Sequence at Brickroom
Southern Oregon has long been a flyover market for rising market bands. But after gassing up here enough times, they occasionally scratch their head and say, “why not?”
Portland indie-rock royalty, The Helio Sequence (comprised of singer Brandon Summers and ex-Modest Mouse drummer Benjamin Weikel) have used Ashland as a stopping point during their tours for many years. But on Friday, October 7 the Helio Sequence will finally in Medford at Brickroom.
Summers and Weikel have been playing together for more than a decade, creating original music with a wide share of influences.
“Everything that we do, that we’re influenced by and what we listen to, is what goes into our music,” says Summers. “Originally…we started in Beaverton. We were both teenagers at that point. We were really inspired by the stuff coming out of England at that time.”
That English music was primarily electronic, a sound reflected in the band’s brilliant, but densely-synthed 2001 album, Young Effectuals.
But it also pulled heavily from folk.
“It wasn’t until I lost my voice,” explains Summers, “that I really started listening to Bob Dylan a lot and folk music in general.”
The decade plus since Young Effectuals has seen the band merge those disciplines, building electronic elements on top of folk song structures.
“The thing that ties things all together, that tie Benjamin and I together, are the Helio Sequence songs,” says Summers.
The band’s self-titled 2015 album fully embraces that hybrid sound.
While the band is only made up of two people, Summers and Weikel have figured out how to use effects pedals, computers, and recording tricks deliver a kind of music that sounds bigger than just two musicians.
The goal has always been to “reach for something bigger,” Summers says. “The idea has always been to take that idea and transcend it.”
Summers says that he would like to open up the writing process beyond the duo format, but being only two has its advantages. One of them is that it makes it much easier to tour.
“When you’re working together you know when there’s disagreements,” he says.
He speaks of the same tensions every band faces, but with only one other person those tensions are felt and addressed much quicker.
For the Helio Sequence’s first time in Ashland, Summers just hopes there is curiosity. Especially since he says there’s something special about shows in smaller towns and at smaller venues.
“Those are always shows that are really fun because the passion is there,” he says.
The Helio Sequence, with Genders
9 p.m. Fri., October 7
Brickroom, 35 N Main St, Ashland
$13 advance, $15 at the door