Band of the Week: New Pope

Band of the Week: New Pope

MEET THE BAND: Robertson Thacher (synthesizers), Michael Gallope (organ, pocket piano), Clara Latham (vocals), Jordyn Bonds (drums)

BORN IN A BASEMENT: In January 2015, Robertson Thacher (Oneida, People of the North) and Clara Latham (Starring, the Fancy) wound up living a few miles apart in Roslindale, Massachusetts. They began meeting weekly in a basement studio and formed New Pope after multi-instrumentalist Michael Gallope and drummer Jordyn Bonds joined the band. "Roslindale is a quiet, creative neighborhood in Boston," says Thacher, who adds that he continues to commute to New York to work with Oneida. "The sound and approach of New Pope includes minimalist compositional concepts, often using pattern and process to create formal structures within which there tend to be strong melodic/motivic narratives." As a result, Thacher says that a New Pope set is "an unmapped flow" that means every live performance varies in sound and approach. Thacher also cites influences such as Suicide, PJ Harvey, Laurie Spiegel, William Onyeabor and Steve Reich.

THE CLEVELAND CONNECTION: Oneida has played Cleveland for years and Thacher, who attended Oberlin College in the early '90s and wrote his honors thesis on the Cleveland underground music scene of the '70s, estimates the band has logged about 100 hours at venues like the Grog Shop, Euclid Tavern, Speak In Tongues and the Beachland. He formed Oneida back in 1997 and the band's history includes a series of marathon 10-hour performances at various All Tomorrow's Parties festivals and performances at the Guggenheim Museum, PS1, MassMoCA, and other art institutions. "Oneida is the originator of Brooklyn's loft/warehouse scene in the late '90s," says Thacher. A new Oneida studio album will be released in early 2018.

WHY YOU SHOULD HEAR THEM: "Dope," the first track on New Pope's forthcoming cassette and digital album release, Meet the New Pope, features percolating synthesizers. It starts with a series of bleeps and blips before distorted guitars and soaring Sinead O'Connor-like vocals kick in, making the song into a cinematic tune that builds to a climax.


WHERE YOU CAN SEE THEM: New Pope performs with Machine Listener at 9 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12, at Guide to Kulchur.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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