Restorations: Having Things Go Okay "Lit a Fire Under Our Ass"

Born out of the breakup of long-running Philadelphia hardcore band Jena Berlin, Restorations reach for a balance between energy and melody.

Fed up with the with the hassles of touring and record labels and having decided the band had reached the limits of what it could do with hardcore, singer-songwriter-guitarist Jon Loudon dissolved Jena Berlin, hoping to focus on just playing music.

The new band name would fit the mood Loudon wanted. Joining guitarists Dave Klyman and Ben Pierce, his bandmates from Jena Berlin, and drummer Carlin Brown and bassist Dan Zimmerman, Loudon set out in a new direction.

"We were interested in not doing the typical bar band thing, but focusing on writing records and the musical end of things, not the touring end of things," says singer-songwriter-guitarist Jon Loudon. "We wanted something more laid back, more melody. We're trying the stuff we couldn't get away with playing the heavier music."

Restorations follow in the footsteps of Fugazi, Constantines, and Torche, "bands along that line that are a little bit subdued but still have more of a kick," Loudon says.

In the contrast between the subdued elements and the kick is where Restorations surge creatively.

"Once we solidified the lineup the way it is now, we'd created this low-ego environment where everybody's comfortable going out on a limb," he says. "We organized songs as a group and a little ideas come together into something bigger."

The band's 2011 debut Restorations for Tiny Engines caught the attention of SideOneDummy Records, which released LP2 in April. It's the type of post-punk record that's as thoughtful as it is rumbling.

"We were getting together to do a record anyway and that changed everything for us," Loudon says. "Up until that point, we were a little more afraid to do anything more scaled up than we were doing."

Recording with producer John Low, the band had a longer time frame to work on album than usual.

"We tried a few things on this record that I feel are new territory for us," Loudon says. "It's nice to have that outside influence on our music. Getting to work with him start to finish really made the sound a bit different than on our other albums."

LP2 starts with an example of that new territory. Lead single "D" is a blistering mix of big guitars, rumbling bass and pummeling drums. Emphasizing the band's DIY roots - past as well as more recently - is the song's video. Styled to look like an old worn-out VHS tape, warped by too much use, the video is a testament to the connection that bands like Restorations (and their influences) forge with crowds, the musicians not on a stage but on the floor right in front of screaming, headbanging and exuberant kids.

"It's been a very communal experience with this band for a while now. We got to know everybody who was behind us it seems for a while and having those same people still come out to shows is inspiring," Loudon says.

Those early local shows built and audience that grew larger than Loudon ever expected for the new band. After tours opening for the Smith Street Band in Australia last fall and the Menzingers this summer, Restorations kicked off the band's first full U.S. headlining tour in early October, with Weatherbox opening.

"Coming off a couple of those bit longer tours and places we hadn't been to before, having those things go OK lit a fire under our ass for this fall," Loudon says. "We've been getting a really good response."

Restorations is scheduled to perform Tuesday, October 22 at Pub Rock Live in Scottsdale.

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