Rock band The Meanwhile seeks identity

By Carl Nadig

Carl Nadig

Staff Writer

Homecoming week will have a rocking hump day, as Chicago-based rock band The Meanwhile will perform 7 p.m. Wednesday at the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

The four-member band combines rock, pop and country throughout its songs. The fledgeling group is discovering its roots.

“We’re still very much finding out identity,” said lead guitarist Michael Paeth. “I think we’re getting there. We’re definitely in the lump of clay territory. I think our common thread is common rock n’ roll.”

The greenhorn band is opening for Brooklyn’s indie rock group A Great Big Pile of Leaves. Some of the band’s popular tracks include “Alligator Bop” and “We Don’t Need Our Heads.”

Even though The Meanwhile is a new addition to the alternative music scene, band members Eric Korte, James DeFrain, Paeth and Brian McDonnell have previous experience with writing music.

“If Brian tells me he’s been in a new band and — I’ve worked with him before and his last few bands have been good — then you kind of know what to expect,” said John Ugolini, who booked the band. “There’s this certain kind of expectation.”

The band’s frontman, McDonnell, is an alumnus familiar with DeKalb’s music.

“Three of us [knew] each other from previous projects, and we’ve talked up in a year or so about getting something going,” McDonnell said. “This week is kind of our kick-off because we’ve booked our first show and we’re releasing our EP.”

Unofficially calling its first EP “Vol. 1,” McDonnell said The Meanwhile’s guideline to producing is spending time in a studio.

“As a band, you’re writing and finishing songs constantly,” McDonnell said. “[S]ay it takes you six months to turn an album around from the time you write and record it. At the end of those six months, you’ve got a new set of songs you’re already working on. That whole dynamic is changing so much around albums and singles that we just don’t think it makes any sense to worry [about] packaging an album.

“What we’re going to do is we’re going to add songs as we get them done. It’ll be ‘Vol. 1’ for these five songs and we’ll add five more songs to it…It’ll be an evolving collection of the most recent stuff … we’ll just throw the songs out as they’re ready.”

McDonnell believes this approach in production will emphasize the band’s music writing as a natural process rather than a forced activity. The Meanwhile also hopes fans will see their growth as music lovers and not as a music label with a hidden agenda.

“I think it’s authentic,” McDonnell said. “We’re got real jobs and all that stuff, but still have the passion for writing music alongside real life. I think the songs stand on their own. We don’t have any illusions of being the ‘next big thing’ or making millions with our music, but I feel like the songs stand against a lot.”