Stranded In Stereo: The Stranded Local Q&A: The Sinister Turns

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Stranded Local Q&A: The Sinister Turns

This week's Stranded Local Q&A comes to us via Cambridge, Ma., with the indie pop act The Sinister Turns. With impressive performances opening up for Mates of State and Nightmare of You on the band's campus of Harvard University, it's only a matter of time before the band takes the local scene by storm.

The Sinister Turns got its start when Susan Putnins got to Harvard University and wanted to add the musical exchange of a band to her experience of writing music and singing while in high school. Putnins asked a
few pals if they would play a show on Harvard's campus at the Quincy Cage in the spring of 2005. "It was a blast, and we decided to keep at it," Putnins says. "What began as a ragtag mix of songs and arrangements began to cohere as a pop that was decidedly bubblegum on the surface but had a dark richness to it.

The band's most recent show was at The Democracy Center in Cambridge as part of a mental health advocacy and action week at Harvard. Putnins says, "The energy of the band and the audience just clicked, and I shared a lot of mental health issues that the songs were about with everyone who was there - I think the openess of our set and the whole event turned from vulnerability to empowerment and everyone was just nodding and rocking out, on stage and off."

With several line-up changes over the course of The Sinister Turns' history, the band's future plans include recording more of their songs. Make sure to grab the mp3's "The Last Time," "I Support Women in Science" and
"Zolpidem" below after you read Putnins (keyboard, ukulele on occasion) of The Sinister Turns answers to the five questions Stranded In Stereo always asks…

Hailing from Boston, makes us better than all those non-Boston bands because
We've been able to develop in a city and a music community that's just the right size - not big enough to get lost in, but big enough to be able to see local and national acts of all genres and positions. Although I'd say all of us are at least fairly liberal, those positions have been solidified in our music and lyrics by the people we meet and the things we see in the Boston area, good and bad, particularly in regards to feminism and openness about our vulnerabilities and foibles. Plus I doubt our drummer Sam would want to come to practices if we don't give him clam chowder every once in a while.

Name at least three bands that are still around and touring that you'd love to be on a bill with, and think it fits well
We played as Third Eye Blind for Halloween of 2005, so that band is a definite. Throw Me the Statue is coming to Boston soon and we asked them if we could open for them because they have similar pop introspection, and hopefully if they read this it will persuade them (please?). And I think we have the same sort of energy as Loney, Dear or Office, in a way. Of course, there are tons of bands we HAVE played with that we'd love to play with again: Mates of State, Titus Andronicus, Dog Day, Butter Days, Okay Thursday, Guardians of Forever.

Your favorite Boston venue to perform in is
PA's Lounge (ok, Somerville) has been a blast, but I think nothing could really beat our Quincy Cage (on Harvard campus).

Are there any genres that influence your music conceptually, rather than sonically? (In that you can't hear from simply listening to the music, but from getting into the structure or mathematics of the song-writing, etc.)
Hmm - this is a challenging question. I think that electronic/eclectic acts like Bjork and Xiu Xiu have influenced the songwriting a lot, in terms of the dynamics of a song, trying to get the listener to go somewhere. Song structure, verse/chorus and all, is more set up to lead the listener down, as lame as it sounds, some sort of journey of feelings, rather than a simple harmonic pattern. When I asked our violinist Annemarie about how she would describe the inspiration and function of our songs, she replied, "emotional devastation."

Your favorite local bar to hit up when not doing the whole band deal is
Well, half of our members are under 21, so alcohol consumption as a band has been limited to 30 packs at co-ed sleepovers. But although we don't go upstairs, I'd say the Hong Kong in Cambridge is where we typically converge. That being said, my personal favorite is Grendel's Den.

[Myspace]
http://www.myspace.com/thesinisterturns
Above pictures by Christina Xu


Download: "The Last Time" [mp3]
"I Support Women in Science" [mp3]
"Zolpidem" [mp3]

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