History is a band that, ironically enough, is attempting to escape its past. Although the quintet has only been playing together in their current formation for a little over a year, the vast majority of that time has been spent shedding the specter of the members' former bands and avoiding the comfort zone of adolescent influences.
History came together as the result of the dissolution of two noteworthy local punk bands: Drummer Patrick O'Neal was in the last version of My Hotel Year, while guitarist/vocalist Matt Caron, bassist Kenzie Pause and keyboardist Scott Ososky were in Sound the Alarm. Though these four began playing together initially as a new incarnation of Sound the Alarm ("Just to keep playing," says O'Neal), it was clear from the few shows they played that the thrill of dishing up three-minute pop-punk anthems had diminished considerably.
"The four of us were all doing pop-punk type stuff and none of us were super-happy doing it, so we were kinda ready to do something new," says Caron. "There comes a point when you look around and you realize that all the bands you're playing with are five years younger than you and they all sound exactly the same."
"We played three or four shows as Sound the Alarm," says O'Neal, "until we realized it sucked and we didn't want to do it anymore."
Yet, rather than give up on the idea of playing music together, the four added former New Roman Times keyboardist Melissa Parker. With their two keyboards arrayed against the audience, a new and not at all "pop-punk" sound was achieved.
Mining each of the members' disparate influences everything from good classic rock (Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath) and bad classic rock ("Journey," mumbles Parker to the bemused laughter of the rest of the band) to angular, Dischord-style punk and textured indie rock and refusing to let any one member's inclinations guide the songwriting process, History hit upon an infectious and powerful post-punk sound that manages to be unique, but also broadly accessible.
"I think that a lot of other bands get together because they all have a common genre or band that they're trying to sound like," says Pause. "But we're all so diverse in terms of our influences that when we try to write something, what comes out is something different than any one of those influences."
"We get people that come up to me and say 'You guys really like Jawbox, don't you?'" says Caron. "And I am literally the only person in the band that likes Jawbox. I think people just hear the things in us that they relate to, because there are so many different elements to our music."
This diversity is a result of the band's collaborative approach to songwriting. Instead of depending on one primary songwriter, nearly all of the band's tracks emerge from tiny bits of individual inspiration that get fleshed out by each member's unique additions.
"I think half the songs we wrote came about while one of us was messing around while the rest of us were setting up," says O'Neal.
"We'll build up a song based on a part," continues Parker, "and end up never actually playing the part we started with."
with Nakatomi Plaza, Dogme 95, Bad Bear
8 pm Thursday, March 30