High Places’ Rob Barber and Mary Pearson find that two heads are better than one.
HIGH PLACES at the Horseshoe (370 Queen West), Monday (February 9), 8:30 pm. $12. rotate.com.
Every other week a new two-person band seems to hit town. These duos are many musicians' response to the Internet-era necessity of making their wages off live shows instead of albums. L.A.-based duo High Places, though, didn't clue in to the financial advantages of a pared-down lineup until after they hit the road.
"We were both doing solo projects, and we both liked each other's work, so why not collaborate?" recalls Mary Pearson on a short break between tours. "It was more about beefing up our solo projects than about scaling down a full band. We've come to realize that a two-person band is kind of perfect, in that you can be really mobile but not have to worry about going insane on the road alone."
The pair's sound isn't the easiest to pin down. Some critics have dropped "folktronica," but all that really tells you is that they use acoustic instruments and electronic sounds. Others have noticed a vague tropical vibe, but Rob Barber insists that's the unintended result of writing major-key melodies and using lots of percussion. Pearson's description of "pop music made with unconventional instruments" is most on the mark, even if it doesn't give you a lot to work with.
"A lot of the things we use as instruments are just random objects that were lying around," explains Pearson. "We had this metal desk that for the longest time was our bass drum. We'd kick it and then pitch the sound down."
Despite the electronic methods, don't expect to find them staring at laptops at the live show.
"I saw a live video of us recently and we're running around turning knobs and hitting buttons like we're trying to launch the space shuttle. It literally looks like we're moving in fast-forward," laughs Barber.
Rob Barber and Mary Pearson explain the beginnings of the band.