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Band of the Week: Glass Traps 

click to enlarge botw-glasstraps.scene.digital.screen.jpg

Photo by Alison Klein

MEET THE BAND: Chuck Cieslik (guitar), Steve Crobar (drums), Matt Hallaran (guitar), Sarah Paul (voice), Sebastian Wagner (bass)

IT STARTED WITH A PILE OF DEMOS: The band formed in 2015. Cieslik was in a band with Wagner. Hallaran and Crobar were in a different band with Wagner. When both groups broke up, Glass Traps formed. "I had a pile of demos I had been working with," says Cieslik. "I was trying to get the sound I wanted out of them, and I played them with 15 different people over the years and couldn't get the sound until Sebastian brought Matt and Steve into the group." Hallaran had talked about collaborating with Sarah Paul, an associate professor and chair of sculpture and expanded media at the Cleveland Institute of Art, for a few years. He played her a demo, and she laid something down over the top of it on her iPhone. Cieslik says he knew right away the lineup would work. "She's extremely talented," says Cieslik when asked about Paul's contribution. "She brings a sense of mystery to the band. I tend to put emotion into the guitar lines, and she keeps a balance. She's not necessarily overcommiting emotionally in her vocals. She was in a band in Albany in the early '90s, and that band was amazing."

AN ANALOG VENTURE: The band recorded its self-titled debut in Cleveland with Paul Maccarone of Zombieproof Studios. Ryan Foltz mixed and mastered it. It will be released digitally and as a limited edition of 300 12-inch vinyl LPs. The band emphasizes "sonic grit" on the disc's eight tracks. "We had done a number of records with Paul over the years; he's one of the best guys locally to record with for a heavier sound," says Cieslik, who adds that the group used money from a Panza Foundation grant to help pay for the recording. "It's all on half-inch tape. We did a limited release cassette with a few of those songs and then gave the recordings over to Ryan, who does sound in Cleveland, and he remixed and mastered it for us. It was actually quite a long process. In other bands, I was happy to get things done quickly. This was a band where we didn't want to make any compromises. It was worth the wait."

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: Album opener "Cold Cut" features hiccupping vocals and heavy drums and sounds like a heavier Siouxsie and the Banshees, and distorted guitars distinguish the undulating "Line." "Kowloon Wallet" benefits from an explosion of post-punk guitars. Keith Richards' autobiography inspired the album closer, the moody "Obron." "As a guitar player, I'm interested in how other guitar players view things," says Cieslik. "In [Richards'] autobiography, he was talking about open tunings and drone notes. With the Stones, you can hear how he's playing open notes and changing chords. His finger isn't on the fret; it's just this open, ringing drone. After reading that, I made a conscious decision to explore that methodology, and that riff was written off that." Paul added lyrics during the Cavs playoffs, and the tune includes an oblique reference to LeBron James. Later this year, the local vinyl boutique label Wax Mage Records will release one additional song from the sessions.

WHERE YOU CAN HEAR THEM: glasstraps.bandcamp.com

WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: Glass Traps perform with Ma Halos, Harlequins, Iron Oxide and Mr. California at 9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 23, at Now That's Class.

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