You’d think that a band that started at the New England School of Communications might be a bit on the tech geek side of things, with a massive love for excellent instruments and gear, studio polish and technically superior sound. And you’d be right. But that’s certainly only scratching the surface.
The Bangor band Mines of Paris, who did, in fact, start at NESCOM, have all those elements — but first and foremost, they’re four guys who like playing rock ‘n’ roll.
“We’re four kids going to school for the same audio engineering degrees,” said singer Ron Belanger. “Of course we’ll butt heads. But most of the time, I think it just makes us more aware of what we’re doing.”
Mines of Paris started two years ago, when guitarist Josh Kimball and drummer Joey Freeman would jam out in their dorm rooms, and eventually invited bass player Lowell Davis along. All four band mates have an easy-going, self-effacing sense of humor, so the added benefit of friendship outside of playing together only helps band dynamic. By the end of the school year in 2009, they had recruited singer Ron Belanger, and named the band Mines of Paris, after the network of interconnected catacombs and cellars under the city of Paris.
“We liked that idea, that there’s something underneath that’s interconnected and mysterious and stuff,” said Belanger. “Plus, it just sounds cool.”
With its bluesy guitar licks, alternative rock choruses, and high caliber vocals, courtesy of Belanger, Mines of Paris bears the influence of bands ranging from the Black Keys and the White Stripes to more progressive bands such as Muse and Radiohead. Belanger is a uniquely powerful vocalist, bringing to mind the voices of folks like Thom Yorke of Radiohead or Caleb Followill of Kings of Leon. Kimball also has a nice, sustained guitar tone, and the unit as a whole exudes a lot of potential.
“I can never say exactly what we sound like or what we want to sound like,” said Kimball. “We started out a lot more bluesy but have progressed beyond that.”
Mines of Paris recorded an EP over the winter, the “Sea Shell EP,” featuring seven songs ranging from the anthem “In and All Around You” to the stomping, bluesy jam “Oh, Virginia.” The band is re-recording those songs as well as four or five more for a full-length album titled “Go Play Outside,” tentatively scheduled for a November release. Naturally, the four NESCOM students are making sure each element looks and sounds right — from the actual recorded sound of it, to the cover art and overall look.
“We can’t help it,” Belanger said. “That’s what we do at school. I think it gives us a leg up on doing what we do the right way. We went into being in a band with a lot of knowledge already.”
Mines of Paris has set themselves a much busier fall, show-wise, than previous semesters. They played the recent When Particles Collide presents show in downtown Bangor, and they’ll play the night of Saturday, Sept. 24, at the Bear Brew Pub in Orono. For information on the band, check them out on Facebook at facebook.com/minesofparis.