Solace Bros. take sound to limits

By Lauren Hillery
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, January 20, 2005

For Tucson's The Solace Brothers, finding an original sound was important. Luckily, chance meetings, forgotten instruments and random gifts have provided the members with plenty of originality.

The Solace Brothers consist of Daniel Naiman, Crumar synthesizer, John Polle, baritone guitar and Justin Donaldson, drums.

The combination of instruments results in pop-rock with subtle undertones of their instruments' distinct sounds. The instruments and band members found their way together in a fairly random series of events.

Naiman, who owns Water Closet Sounds recording studio, obtained his Crumar synthesizer after it was left behind at his studio. Built in the 1980s, the Crumar was one of the early dynamic keyboards, according to Naiman.

"It tries to model pianos and harpsichords. It has a broad sound with a lot of highs and lows," Naiman said.

But to compensate for the lack of bass, Naiman runs the synthesizer and guitar through two amps with a lot of effects.

"It ends up sounding like a guitar," Naiman said.

Including Polle and his baritone bass into the band was also coincidental, when Polle moved from Washington to intern at Water Works, a recording studio. Polle and Naiman began recording demos with the baritone guitar Polle's wife bought him for Christmas.

These instruments combined are the backbone for The Solace's Brothers' original sound.

"These are not instruments you've heard played together before. It's not like a Les Paul through a Marshall stack," Naiman said. "They both carry the same kind of weight in the mix."

Although Naiman and Donaldson had been involved in bands for the past 10 years, he was brought on as the drummer for The Solace Brothers because of his ability to compliment their sound.

"Donaldson does a really good job of filling out the bottom sound with the kick drum. That way there's not a lot of competition. It has a nice kick," Naiman said.

In their short amount of time together, since the fall 2002, The Solace Brothers have become well known and well traveled; opening for bands like Calexico and Built to Spill.

"A lot of the bands we have played with are some of my favorite bands. We had an awesome experience in Jackson, Miss.. It was a real receptive crowd and a fun time," Naiman said.

But Naiman's favorite venues include the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

However, Naiman believes that there is definitely something special about Tucson's local music scene.

"Being in Tucson is nice, because the pace is mellow, so we still have time to make a living and make music," Naiman said. "You're tied into other bands. It's a great place to live in general."

This trio has also formed a ukulele band, Whistlin' Dix, that performs songs ranging the history of American music.

Balancing two bands, touring, as well as playing local shows, have kept The Solace Brothers busy, playing around 75 shows per year. However, the Brothers will headline their first big show in town at City Limits Friday.

The show starts at 8 p.m. with The Jons and Ride The Tiger opening. Tickets can be purchased for $3, and the show is 21+.