Thom Vail saw a Craigslist posting last year that struck his fancy. Vail, a bass player who openly admits he was kicked out of a jam band for liking the Cure, was looking for other musicians to play with, and the message posted that day seemed like it was meant just for him. Someone who would understand, even encourage, his love of the Cure, Echo & the Bunnymen and the gothier side of rock.
“I said something about wanting genuine people, no hipsters or people who wanted to talk about music, rather than actually make original music,” said vocalist Laura Wood, the writer of the post, who played in indie alternative bands in Portland before returning to her hometown of Bangor. “I don’t want to just look cool and pretend to be cool. I want to make music.”
At virtually the same time that Vail responded to her post, so did guitarist Sean Carter, who liked the blunt, honest tone of her words. A few days later, the three got together. Within months, The Sweet Terror was formed, which now features vocalist and guitarist Wood, Vail, Carter and drummer Scott Dufour.
The Sweet Terror, who will play with Slow Blind Tone, Joe Gates, Larry and Leslie Latour and Mudseason on Monday, March 29, at the Next Generation Theatre in Brewer, could easily be called alternative rock. But that’s a gross understatement. Check out Wood’s vocals, landing somewhere in between punk rock and torch singer. Dig Carter’s gritty, complex riffs, and Dufour and Vail’s darkly funky rhythm section. Think strong, sexy female vocals, crunchy guitars and an ever-so-slightly goth-punk outlook. That’s a closer approximation to the kind of music The Sweet Terror makes.
“I don’t really know what to call us. I love post-punk, and my favorite bassist is Simon Gallup from the Cure,” said Vail. “Laura definitely loves PJ Harvey. Sean’s all-time favorite band is the Stooges. Scott likes Neil Peart, but lots of other stuff, too. Does that many any sense?”
It makes lots of sense. Despite differences in taste, age and background, the four musicians make a cohesive sound. Songwriting is a group effort, with all four contributing different elements to their songs, like the driving, snakelike rhythms of “Daisycutters” or the raw punk energy of “Wrong Sister,” both of which are available for your listening pleasure on the band’s MySpace page, myspace.com/thesweetterror.
“I’ll come to practice with a little three-second punk riff, and Thom will have something else, too,” said Carter. “I haven’t played with a group where it wasn’t like, someone writes the songs and everyone else fills in the gaps. It’s very organic.”
The band plans to spend the next month recording an album in Carter’s home studio. They have a few more shows coming up, besides their appearance in Brewer this Monday: a May 8 show at the Station in Portland and a slot at the LGBT Pride Festival in Bangor in June. An appearance at a Tuesday open mike night at Paddy Murphy’s in Bangor also is likely to happen in the next few weeks. Once the album is done, the next step is a tour. Wood is now the proud owner of a van, which would facilitate said tour.
“Step one: Get a rock van to cart our stuff around. Step two: Record our album. We have an album’s worth of material that we’re itching to get out there. Step three: Hopefully do some sort of tour this summer,” said Wood. “It’s great. It’s falling into place.”
The Sweet Terror will play Monday, March 29, at the Next Generation Theatre on Center Street in Brewer, with Slow Blind Tone, Mudseason, Larry and Leslie Latour and Joe Gates. Admission is $5 and proceeds benefit HOME Inc. and their homeless assistance programs.