The hot genre of 2011 is the duo band. Two musicians; one raw, stripped-down sound. Bangor’s pop-punk duo When Particles Collide, Belfast’s fuzz-rock two-piece the Class Machine and Portland’s indie rockers The Milkman’s Union all bring new dimensions to the duo format.
You now can add a fourth band to the Maine duo-band renaissance. The Thriftways, based in Newport, take the amped-up blues rock of the White Stripes, the acoustic stomp of Cage the Elephant and the hyperactive garage rock of the Hives, put it into a blender and press liquefy. They’re scheduled to perform Friday, June 10, at Ipanema in Bangor, and Friday, June 17, at the Time Out Event Center in Brewer.
The Thriftways were formed in late 2010 by childhood friends Matt Duplisea and Matt Tedesco, who both grew up in Pittsfield. When Duplisea was 18, he began learning the guitar after a friend introduced him to the back catalog of The White Stripes — which changed his life.
“It really kind of blew open the door for me, musically speaking. It was a huge turning point for me,” said Duplisea. “That took me to Led Zeppelin, and then other classic rock, and then to the blues, and then stuff from the ’20s and ’30s, like Son House and Robert Johnson. It all went from there.”
Tedesco, however, was a lifelong musician, playing a variety of instruments. Duplisea always wanted to play with his buddy but never felt like he was good enough to perform with someone of Tedesco’s caliber. Jack White’s music gave him the courage to give it a shot.
“In my mind, he was always so much better than me,” said Duplisea. “When we started to play together, though, it just meshed.”
Duplisea moved to Orono to attend the University of Maine, and his early project with Tedesco was put on the back burner. He lived and worked in Orono until 2010, at which point he moved back to Newport and reconnected with Tedesco. It was as if nothing had changed — and the songs that Duplisea had written over the past few years sounded pretty great when backed by Tedesco’s drumming. They developed a sound indebted to the White Stripes, but with their own kind of lyrical and melodic edge.
“I think what’s great about playing in a duo is that it forces you push yourself, musically. You can’t pretend,” said Duplisea. “We went with the two-piece originally out of necessity, because we didn’t have a bass player, but now we really want to stick with this format and go further with it.”
Duplisea and Tedesco chose the name The Thriftways because of the small grocery store that Duplisea lived near in Orono.
“Thriftway is a pretty basic, family-run store, and I liked the fact that it’s pretty DIY. That’s kind of the idea we have behind our band,” said Duplisea. “It’s stripped down and simple.”
The Thriftways recorded their debut EP, “Winter,” in January 2011 at Main Street Music Studios in Bangor. It took them all of five hours to lay down the six tracks, and the raw energy captured on the recording reflects the pair’s mindset. Unofficial single “The Picture Frame” has been played on WTOS-FM and WHSN-FM.
The way things are progressing in Maine, don’t be surprised to see a new crop of duo bands popping up in the next year or two. Just remember that The Thriftways were part of the original scene.
The Thriftways will perform at 9:30 p.m. Friday, June 10, at Ipanema in Bangor; the show is for ages 21-plus. They also will perform with Most Of Us Can Stand, 13 Lakes and Nervzero at 9 p.m. Friday, June 17, at Time Out Event Center in Brewer, and admission is $5.