Milwaukee’s Pele brings its unique instrumental pop-rock sound to the Rathskeller this Saturday. Pele’s most recent album, The Nudes, is reminiscent of such Chicago underground acts as Tortoise, Isotope 217, and 5 Style. Matt Tenneson, also of Madison’s own Paris, Texas, brings a heavy jazz-laden layer of bass to the mix that is complimented by Chris Rosenau’s (also in Promise Ring side project Vermont) scattered and chaotic guitar riffs. Somehow that all gets tied together by Jon Mueller’s frenetic drumming, something that is truly a sight to behold. The Badger Herald recently talked with Chris on his drive home from work the other day about the connection between Pele and bass players from the Promise Ring and why tomorrow’s show should not be missed.
Badger Herald: How do you describe Pele’s sound?
Chris Rosenau: We all feel that our music is obviously instrumental and rock ‘n’ roll — we emphasize the rock ‘n’ roll. And we’re also a pop band. So we’re instrumental pop-rock. Everyone always throws in all sorts of other things; a lot of people tend to say we’re a jazz trio, but I don’t necessarily hear that as much. Also, we get compared to lots of Chicago bands, which may or may not be relevant.
BH: What influences do you draw from?
CR: It’s hard to say. We all listen to a lot of the same stuff, but we also listen to our own stuff. John’s drumming is definitely influenced by a lot of improvisational jazz stuff, and I’d say my guitar playing is also influenced a lot by improvisational instrumental bands. And we also take a lot from tons of instrumental bands out there, but then again, there’s a lot of things that those bands are doing that we don’t want to do.
BH: What’s with Pele and bass players from the Promise Ring?
CR: I know, we get one of them every week and toss another out the next week. Actually it’s totally coincidental. Scott Beschta played keyboards with us after he was in the Promise Ring, and then Scott Schoenbeck was our first bass player before he was in the Promise Ring. And actually Ryan Webber from Camden, who they just took with them to record in London, is a guy that we’ve played with and recorded with before. We keep waiting for them to take away Tenneson now. The thing is, we’re all really good friends, and it just sort of happened that way.
BH: With all of the other projects that you guys are involved with, is Pele your first priority as a band?
CR: Right now it’s definitely a priority, since we’re touring and writing an album. I hate to prioritize, though. They’re all at an equal priority and necessity. When we feel like doing straightforward rock stuff, we do Pele. It enables us to not let things get too redundant. It’s definitely not a side project, though. It’s probably the project that we expend the most promotional energy in.
BH: Why should people come to see you?
CR: I’m not going to toot my own horn here, but I really think that even people that don’t like instrumental bands will find something about us that they will like. There’s something for everyone. Also, you could probably just come and watch Jon drum and that would be entertaining enough. Also, Matt Tenneson is just an amazing bass player, and I will be relatively drunk. So yeah, come see Jon’s drumming, Matt’s bass playing, and me entertainingly drunk. Everyone should come out to see Ivory Coast too, who we’re playing with. They’re about a week into their tour, so they’ll be nice and tight.