Photo by Josh Robishaud and Jocelyn McGregor

Though Sacramento’s Buildings Breeding Started as a Joke, the Band is Serious About Moving Forward

A perusal of Buildings Breeding’s Myspace page will show that the band has a sense of humor. The tagline under the band name describes the group’s genre as a fantastical mix of “healing & easylistening/religious/black metal.” Of course, even a brief listen to Buildings Breeding’s music reveals anything but. In place of these incongruous genres are dreamy male/female vocals bolstered by jangly pop melodies and swift percussive sensibilities. Perhaps “easylistening” isn’t too far off the mark, because the band’s songs are just so catchy.

Buildings Breeding’s ability to poke fun at itself may stem from the fact that the band started as a bit of a joke—albeit a romantic one. Frontman and founder Chris Larsen started the band as a way to confess his feelings for his girlfriend and now band mate, co-vocalist Melanie Glover. Larsen concocted Buildings Breeding as a fake band with its own Myspace page in order to reach out to Glover while she was abroad. This quirky back-story is a bit of a bane and a boon for Larsen.

“It’s kind of a silly story that we’re trying to get away from,” Larsen says with an uneasy laugh. “That story is haunting us our whole career.”

Whether the band was make-believe or not, its music struck a chord with Glover, and others as well. While still living in Davis, Larsen sent his songs out to Mushpot Records, which signed Buildings Breeding, even though it technically didn’t exist.

“I was pretending to be all these people. I submitted to them just as a joke, and they wanted to put out the record, so I was like, I better put together a band then,” Larsen explains.

“I don’t even know if I ever told them, because I didn’t want to ruin the chances of getting my record released.”

Now just a few years after Larsen conceived the band (he says he got the idea in 2006, but the group didn’t really come together until 2007), Buildings Breeding has bloomed from an inside joke to a bona fide five-piece with a bright future ahead of it. This month, the band will release its first nationally distributed album, In the Key of Calloused Fingers on venerable Bay Area indie Devil in the Woods. The album will be available on vinyl, limited to 300 copies (a digital version of the album was released April 28 and can be purchased via iTunes and other online music stores). The album is a compilation of older material from prior Buildings Breeding releases chosen by friends and fans and also some newer songs. Fittingly, Larsen says the title “¦Calloused Fingers also has a humorous connotation for the band.

“[The album] is kind of like a collection of what we’ve been doing for the past couple years,” he says. “We’ve been playing them so much, our hands are calloused.”

Using Myspace, and other sites, Buildings Breeding put the “¦Calloused Fingers‘s tracklisting up to a vote. And in some cases, the band was surprised with what their fans chose.

“It brought some songs that—at least for me—weren’t first picks,” says Chris Vogel, Buildings Breeding’s bass player. “There were some songs that did really well off the self-titled [album], but some of the fans picked some of the deeper songs on that record, so it was nice to include them on “¦Calloused Fingers.”

According to Larsen, letting fans choose their favorite songs keyed the members of Buildings Breeding into which of the songs were working better than others.

“When you have people e-mailing you what songs they like, you kind of know what your live shows should sound like,” Larsen says. “There are some tracks that, in my heart, I thought people might like, but it definitely gets you on the right direction as to where to take the band. It’s obvious when you listen to this record, people like certain ways we go better than others.”
However, both Vogel and Larsen say that fan reaction alone won’t drive the music behind their next recording.

“I think what the fans were telling us by picking the songs was definitely important, but at the same time, we want to grow as a band,” Vogel says. “You can sit and make songs that everyone’s going to like all the time, but you’re just going to fail.”

Though the songs on “¦Calloused Fingers may be new to many people nationwide, Buildings Breeding are more than familiar with them. The band is looking forward to recording new material. Larsen hopes the band will re-enter the studio sometime after May.

Whether fan reaction plays any part in the road ahead for Buildings Breeding will remain to be seen. A larger affect on the direction of the band’s music will probably come from the band’s desire to write their next album together, as opposed to Larsen as primary songwriter.
“With five different people’s input, you don’t know where that’s going to take you,” Larsen says. “I think creating a record together will be the happiest thing we can do.”

Recently, Buildings Breeding was injected with new blood. Kevin Dockter stepped in on lead guitar and Justin Titsworth joined as the new drummer. Both members have had a big impact on the band. Vogel and Larsen both praise Dockter for his “tasteful” playing.

“Kevin instantly just opened up a new door for us with his guitar parts,” Larsen says. Kevin really embellished the songs.”

Meanwhile, Titsworth has taken the band to “the next level,” according to Larsen. Titsworth’s arrival allowed Glover to step out from behind the kit and be more upfront with her vocals, with out causing Buildings Breeding to lose anything rhythmically.

“Some of her songs are our best songs and fan favorites, our top sellers of whatever we sold in downloads,” Larsen says. “It really made me disgruntled to not be able to do that properly. It definitely changes everything to have everything we want going on while she’s singing.”
“I think we’re at a point with five members that we can branch out and bring some new stuff to the table that we haven’t been able to before,” Vogel adds.

With a solid roster in place, it would seem that the good humored members of Builidings Breeding have plenty reason to be resolute going forward—whichever direction their music takes them.