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American Analog Set say farewell for now

Photo Courtesy of Arts and Crafts Records
American Analog Set, lovingly referred to as AmAnSet by people who are into the whole brevity thing, is playing at Plush tonight at 9:30. They’re just a handful of guys who want to play some music.
By Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, November 3, 2005
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American Analog Set frontman Andrew Kenny may be the best musician in science, but that doesn’t mean it earns him any respect in the laboratory. Kenny notes an encounter he had with a lab technician who heard he was in a band.

“He said, ‘Well, were you guys a serious band?’” Kenny said. “And I was like, ‘Well, I like to think we came at it with a certain amount of love and affection, and yeah we were a very serious band.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, well were you ever on ‘American Idol’ or ‘Star Search’?’ I was like, ‘No. … We’re not that type of band.’ And he was like, ‘Oh, well then you weren’t very serious about it then.’”

Apparently, in the science world (and, often in the public consciousness) there is no in-between, and this puts quietly successful indie bands like Austin’s AmAnSet in an awkward predicament.

“He was serious,” Kenny said. “He just thought that the step between a garage (band) and being U2 was getting on ‘Star Search’ or ‘American Idol.’ There wasn’t any recognition that maybe having an album just being in the black and going on tour and entertaining a couple hundred people a night would be successful at all.”

The worse part is that stuff like this seems to always happen to AmAnSet. Another far more devastating example came when Wall of Sound (their U.K. record label) put the kibosh on the band opening for then quietly successful indie band Death Cab for Cutie (while holding onto the band’s records).

When Death Cab began surfacing on popular music rags, AmAnSet sent a note to its former overlords, which is now posted at “Hey, y’all ... hope you’re well. This is the band you didn’t want us touring with because you hadn’t heard of them. I don’t know if you’ve heard of Spin magazine or not. It’s a popular ‘zine here in the States. I really wish you had trusted us on this one because that tour would’ve done wonders for a band like us. But honestly, artists on the cover of Spin ask us to tour with them all the time, so don’t feel like you wasted an opportunity for us or anything. It’s all good, y’all.”

If you found that slightly funny and acidic, you should really check out Kenny’s journals on the band’s Web site. They range from listing the top signs that you should not crash at someone’s house post-show to the brutal truth about being in indie music (including European debacles like venue staff who fry your band’s equipment and techno-clash dance parties that begin right after you finish your set and before you’ve unloaded the equipment from the stage).

However, all is not gray clouds for AmAnSet, and Andrew Kenny certainly shows no signs of wear, as he is jovial, smart and polite in the interview (possibly because, as he said, “When I’ve got peanuts and water, life is good. I’m a simple man, I guess.”). It doesn’t hurt that the band’s “Farewell Tour” (the band members will all pursue separate interests after this tour) has been a success.

“It’s been awesome,” Kenny said. “It’s been our best tour ever. The shows have been really good, and I think we’re playing really well and it’s just been a really cool experience so far.”

So, will this tour be the last time AmAnSet will perform all together? According to its Web site: “We may play again here and there, but this is the last time we will get into a van in August and out of the van in December. This is the last full-on tour in support of an album.” Kenny isn’t fazed at all by the band’s upcoming break.

“It’s kind of like the end of a series,” Kenny said.

The band couldn’t be ending the series on a higher note. In August, it played a 10th anniversary gig in Austin, Texas, and its new album, Set Free, on the buzz-worthy Canadian label Arts & Crafts Records, is among their finest work. Kenny ultimately hopes to finish the Ph.D. in biochemistry he abandoned for AmAnSet and is currently displaced from Austin in New York with his girlfriend.

As for the band, the break ahead does not appear too permanent.

“We’re talking about thinking about another Analog recording session down the road,” Kenny said. “But right now, we’re thinking about this tour. … For some people this is the first time they’ll see us, for others it may be the last of many times they’ve seen us, so we want to play some older songs we haven’t played a while and having a showing for new songs and make it cool show.”

To help some nice guys not finish last, check out American Analog Set tonight at 9:30 at Plush, 340 E. Sixth St. Tickets for the 21-and-older show are $7, and The Meeting Places and Via Satellite open.

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