Last modified on October 4, 1995.
The thing that makes performers like Morrissey and the Cure so insufferable at times is their inability to act and think like everyday people. Gothic, macabre -- whatever you call it -- after a while it starts to sound a little whiny and self-absorbed.
This image doesn't help a band like Worcester's The Curtain Society, especially when the order of the day seems to be distorted guitar, muscular lyrics and agressive presence. Musically, The Curtain Society shares a lot with these English "goth" bands, creating etherial waves of emotionally charged music. Lyrically, however, The Curtain Society is more rooted in reality, building songs around real people and events.
"We all grew up with '70s and '80s pop-rock, that's why a lot of our songs have hooks and catchy lyrics," said Roger Lavallee, guitarist, singer and songwriter for The Curtain Society. "We're not pretentious or trying to sing about the fantastic. We write about stuff we're going through, not vampires and demons."
The trio of Lavallee, bass player Ron Mominee and drummer Jeff Paul has been playing for five years as The Curtain Society. What started as a high school band has evolved into a tight, experimental group. Lavallee is a sound freak, putting his guitar through numerous effect devices, giving The Curtain Society a distinctive character. The band recently put out a full-length album titled "Where Are You?" on Lavallee's Apostrophe Records. The Curtain Society plays Saturday at Grove Street Gallery, 100 Grove St., Worcester. Cannister [sic], a newcomer with an industrial bent, is also on the bill.
The Curtain Society has covered a lot of ground, considering its lineup has a median age of 22. A number of independent releases have caught the eye of fan magazines and produced fan mail from all over the world. A Curtain Society single should be released soon on the independent Bedazzled record label, and the band has toured as far south as Virginia and north to Toronto.
But the band's style is the stuff of cult followings and finding steady work near home is always a challenge, Lavallee said.
"I'm surprised we're still at the level we're at. We've hit a lot of brick walls," Lavallee said. "But all along we felt that if we lasted together through the first year the band would last a long time. This is something we want real bad. We just want to get the music out. We're not trying to be stars or anything."
The Curtain Society's music is most often edgy, sometimes punishing because of its anguish. Feelings of self-doubt and loneliness run through the band's material, though an acerbic wit buoys things before it gets too depressing.
Lavallee described himself as a lonely teen-ager who spent a lot of time cloistered in his bedroom with a guitar.
"I used to experiemnt with sounds. I couldn't afford guitar synthesizers or neat effects, so I just learned how to do things with delays and flangers," he said. It is refreshing to hear a band making such otherworldly noises without the benefit of a synthesizer bank.
"This is my therapy," said Lavallee, who makes light of his ongoing battles with depression. "It lets me get out the things I couldn't as a kid. It's a much better alternative to shooting my co-workers."
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