The details are a little sketchy, but what's clear is that Brandon Migliorisi and Ben Franks were only 13 when they flipped open the dictionary to pick a name for their new band. Now, what are the odds of landing "cringe" (phonetically pronounced krinj) on their first try? My guess is that it was something more like "depot" (not that I tried it myself or anything ...), but in the infinite solemnity of paper-rock-scissors, we'll give 'em the benefit of the doubt. All set, they picked up the guitar and bass, respectively and 11 years later they're still at it. Krinj has come a long way from their first "real" gigs, playing early evening shows to very young crowds at York St. Café.
"It's a totally different band now," says Franks. "Picking up (guitarist Adam) Sanders and Mark (Schulte, drums) was kind of the best thing we could have done, because those guys have so much experience in other bands, and they bring a lot of personality to the group. We're like a bunch of comedians."
An exploratory journey is fully evident when comparing Krinj's first EP their newest release, Tonight, We Escape. In addition to finding key members to complete the quartet, they got with the right people in the studio.
The production quality of Tonight is simply astounding. Instead of focusing on lyrical snags, it's easy to get lost in the epic storytelling that unfolds when Sanders' guitar crescendos are happily married to the ebb and flow of Migliorisi's unpredictable vocal scale. It's clear from the intro and first track, "Leave Me Alone," that the crew has put in considerable studio hours ensuring that every note is tuned to perfection and every drumbeat ministered punctually. These guys take every opportunity to add a signature piano flourish or some synthesized schizophrenia — there is plenty of detail plugging would-be cracks.
"No song (on the new album) sounds like another because the songs have been evolving since 2001 with new members and insight along the way," says Migliorisi. The group owes much of this new insight, at least in terms of recording and producing, to people like Rick Andress, who recorded the new disc, and Mike Montgomery of Thistle, who mastered it. Touting Andress's accolades past and present (they also worked with him at Group Effort Studios on their first EP), the band members agree that they couldn't have made such a fine release without that almost nitpicky attention to detail. "You don't hear a lot of local stuff that's been picked apart as much as this record," adds Sanders. "We've been pretty meticulous about everything."
The "grown up" band mentality might not be immediately evident at a live show. Krinj's music, after all, is chock-full of plaintive harmonies, borderline Screamo and those chaotic Rock riffs popular with the young audiences of bands like The Used and All-American Rejects. And Krinj certainly looks the part of ne'er-do-well rockers just begging to be up to no good. Happy to attract younger fans, Migliorisi says, "At least at all-ages shows, you can tell who's there to see your music — that's not always evident in 'bar' crowds."
All partying aside, the members have an undeniable calmness about them. In other words, they put a lot of thought into exactly how they'd like to rock the face right off you. The group recently secured a merchandise-for-publicity deal with the quirky, Kentucky-bottled soda company Ale-8-1. Now they talk a lot about touring and management-seeking, which they will approach with a do-your-homework-first mentality that has yet to fail them. Perhaps it's the same determination summed up by Krinj's "Dream": "Today I feel stronger/Than I ever have before/Never giving up (Never giving up)/We need this." Collectively, they're certain they're headed in a good direction.
"When we played at Bogart's (opening for Breaking Benjamin), it was kind of a 'WEBN' crowd — which I don't think we are, but by the end of the show, people were coming up to us with compliments," Franks says.
Without the slightest air of deliberate pretense, he adds, "I think you could put this band in front of any crowd and we'll win them over."
KRINJ (krinj.com) hosts a CD release party Saturday at The Mad Hatter.