Absent Minds plays in Bend

Portland band spikes its punk with cello

By Ben Salmon / The Bulletin / @frequencyblog

Published Jan 31, 2014 at 12:06AM

If you go

What: Absent Minds, with Tuck & Roll

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Cost: Free

Where: Third Street Pub, 314 S.E. Third St., Bend

Contact: www.facebook.com/absentmindspdx or 541-306-3017

Absent Minds is a punk band, but you’d have to forgive folks for wondering exactly what this band does when they see a cello case coming out of the tour van.

Indeed, the Portland-based quartet — which will play in Bend Saturday night (see “If you go”) — does classic ’90s-inspired pop-punk, but also incorporates the elegant sound of the Isaac Hayden’s cello. The result is punk with an unexpected texture.

Hayden’s band mates are guitarist Joel Hixon, drummer DJ Woods and bassist Davey Death Ray, though not for long; Hayden’s leaving the band after the Bend show.

GO! Magazine caught up with Davey Death Ray and asked him about that and more. Here’s our interview.

GO!: How’d Absent Minds form?

Davey Death Ray: Joel started the band with Isaac after they met while going to college in Portland in 2007 … the cello has been there since the band’s inception.

GO!: Do other bands, promoters or venues give you guys funny looks, like they don’t expect the cello to work within the songs? Or are most folks pretty open to it?

DDR: Sometimes the sound guy is put off on how exactly to make it work, but we have it figured out and bring everything we need to a show. Most people seem interested in seeing what role the cello has in the band.

GO!: What bands do you think most influence Absent Minds’ songs?

DDR: Joel and I share quite a few favorites such as the Descendents and NOFX, but we all have subtle differences in taste. On the road we’ve been listening to Paint It Black, DC Fallout, Off With Their Heads, and Saves the Day amongst others.

GO!: Is there any sort of theme to your new album “The Misery of Correcting Past Mistakes”?

DDR: We didn’t necessarily set out to have a theme for the record, but this particular batch of Joel’s songs do tie together in a big way … In the lyrics I see themes of a lost generation trying to find its place in the world while each individual is also trying to build and maintain a strong personal identity. It’s all pretty uplifting, though, which I hope people find charming.

GO!: So Isaac is leaving the band?

DDR: After six years, Isaac has decided to pursue other endeavors. We are going to look for a replacement cellist, but in the meantime the three of us are going to work on an EP as well as a couple split 7-inch releases.

GO!: Are you concerned about losing that distinctive quality of the band’s sound?

DDR: We have had a couple practices as a three-piece and it wasn’t nearly as bare sounding as I had expected. It is a bummer to lose such a melodic, game-changing instrument, but we’re looking forward to seeing how this next chapter will help shape the band’s music.

— Reporter: 541-383-0377, bsalmon@bendbulletin.com