Imagine for a minute that you're on a breakthrough tour with indie stalwarts Modest Mouse for months on end and you sing so hard for so long that you completely shred your vocal cords.
You have no choice but to keep going as your partner is part of the headlining band. Then you have your own tour to worry about and the pressure to bring your "A" game is about as heavy as could be to break through that next level.
This was the case for Brandon Summers, lead singer and guitarist for Portland indie duo The Helio Sequence who'll be appearing Feb. 26 aa the Red Room in Kennewick.
Summers saw a doctor after the grueling months-long tour who promptly inspected the situation saying "What have you been doing!?"
The prognosis was grim. No singing for two months.
This time off allowed Summers to pick up some outside influences to the duo's sound.
"We used to get together (he and bandmate Benjamin Weikel) and listen to sonic records like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive," he said. "I guess it's called shoegazing but I think that's a pretty silly designation. Now I've been listening to a lot of old folk."
But the reason his vocals became so bad wasn't solely because of the way he sung, but through his lifestyle choices. "No more whiskey before shows only after," Summers said. He used to be a Maker's guy then switched to Dewar's -- now Bushmill's is his whiskey of choice.
But much more went into the genesis of The Helio Sequence's new album. All that time not singing allowed him to complete the reading of 60 books in as many days. One of those was Bob Dylan's autobiography and if you listen to the duo's latest album Keep Your Eyes Ahead the Dylan influence is obvious. Summers not only had to change his lifestyle, he had to change the way he sang. This path is most evident on the group's latest album on track nine, Broken Afternoon, which vocally is a dead ringer for Dylan.
But the fact that these changes have wrapped themselves around the new record, haven't changed The Helio Sequence's outreach to its outlying electronic influences. The album still puts off the air that they sound far bigger than a duo -- especially live. The band's propensity for layering their tunes does make them sound fuller than say another famous duo, the White Stripes. Their show also mostly stays true to the album.
"We use computer loops, but there are sections here and there between bars that we can expand upon. But I should just come out and say it -- it's a really loud show."
Summers also says Helio is gearing up for a national tour, but was reluctant to give any details as of yet. He was more interested in saying the group was excited to kick off this tour by playing towns that they don't usually hit and generate a sizable amount of fan e-mails begging them to come play.
"These shows always end up being really intense, just because everyone is so excited we're actually there."