When some bands first assemble, they pepper their live sets with covers of songs they like in order to flesh out their presentation. Another Tragedy had no interest in that course of action.
"Honestly, from playing back in the day and seeing what the other members were capable of, we were intent on playing nothing but originals," says AT bassist/ vocalist Matt "Mutt" Menard. "We did a couple covers here and there, but it was more for crowd impact."
Rather than start their journey as a glorified cover band, Another Tragedy wood-shedded on original material for five months before hitting an area stage. It was a wise choice. The sophisticated Prog/Metal quartet became a local sensation, largely on the basis of their amazing original repertoire.
"It was our intention from the very beginning to put together an arsenal of songs before we stepped out," says guitarist Lee Dixon. "It was one of the things we had discussed."
The seeds of Another Tragedy were sewn when all four members were playing together in other bands.
Dixon and drummer Caleb Campbell were members of the band Fetish, while Menard and vocalist/ guitarist Johnathan Chapman were with Neveah. The two bands shared more than the occasional bill and formed a mutual admiration of each other's work.
"We did shows together throughout the course of a year, and we really enjoyed what the other band was doing," Dixon says. "We meshed really well, we had a good vibe together and it was always a great show. In the back of our minds, we thought it might be cool to do a project together with this exact lineup."
In 2003, the two bands ran their natural courses and the four musicians found themselves band-less and available. It all fell into place when Menard and Campbell crossed paths at a gas station. Within days, Another Tragedy was rehearsing, writing original music and developing their sound.
"We fed off each other when we played, and it's not anything that we thought about, per se," Campbell says. "We're just all on the same page musically. It's just one of those things that you feel. Within the first practice we had parts of three songs written. We knew it was going to be good and it was."
After building up a solid local following, Another Tragedy began expanding into regional shows and short mini-tours of the surrounding Midwest. As a consequence, AT has established solid and loyal audiences regionally. All of this buzz attracted the interest of this year's edition of the Zippo Hot Tour, which held its Cincinnati competition in September at the Mad Frog. Another Tragedy placed high with the judges (I know, I was one), but the local phase was ultimately won by In-Rage. Although they didn't win, AT felt they'd gotten a rare opportunity to showcase for fans that might not have otherwise seen them.
"We obviously would have liked to have won, but we were happy to hear that In-Rage had won," Dixon says. "Every encounter we've had with those guys, they've been a class act, and it was our pleasure to try and help them move on to the next point once we found out we weren't advancing."
One of the interesting sub-plots of the Zippo competition was that Chapman's parents were in one of the other bands in the hunt for the local championship. His vocalist mother and guitarist father are members of a local Led Zep-meets-Heart outfit called Crooked Rook, who were also in the run-up for Zippo's top spot.
The circumstance illuminates Chapman's musical genealogy. His childhood is filled with memories of watching his parents play in area nightclubs and having the trappings of musical expression available to him at an early age.
"It was awesome," Chapman says. "I remember being 7 or 8 years old, sitting in Southgate House or wherever, on the side of the stage watching them play with all the other big, badass bands at the time."
Although Chapman's father never gave him formal guitar lessons, he learned through constant exposure.
"I don't think he ever really sat down and went, 'This is this and that's that,' it was more just me watching him," says Chapman. "There were always so many musicians around the house I always had somebody to watch and feed off of."
Another Tragedy moves into the next phase of their career with the imminent release of their debut CD, The Beauty of Suffering. Their recent signing with Zebra 3 Records in England will give the album a wide distribution and open a European front for them in both album sales and touring opportunities. AT will jet to Europe in February for a tour before returning home to promote the album.
AT's debut album is a marvel of Metal power and attitude, while exhibiting the subtlety and elegance of the best Prog Rock. Any band can overwhelm the listener with sheer volume, but it takes a much more balanced approach to reach an audience both viscerally and intellectually. Another Tragedy accomplishes this feat with astonishing ease on pummeling tracks like "Broken" and "Ten," while exploring a more introspective and contemplative perspective on "The Healing" and "In Too Deep," all songs that were fueled by emotional upheaval early in the band's history, including a couple of divorces. Myriad influences go into each member's experience (Tool, Rush, Led Zeppelin, Kings X), but it all comes out as Another Tragedy.
"I feed more off the way that people's music makes me feel rather than what it sounds like," Menard says. "There's such a diverse range of music that the four of us listen to, it's just ridiculous, everything from Bluegrass picking to Slayer. And we try to mix it all in there."
"We like cerebral music that makes you think," Dixon says. "It's definitely not boring to play and we wanted our music to appeal to a wide variety of audiences and hopefully have the songs be something people are singing in the shower the next day."
In the end, the chemistry that makes up Another Tragedy is the binding force that keeps them focused on their path and the creative force that energizes their working relationship.
"When we go into the room to write, we sit down, we pick up our instruments and it's an amazing thing," Chapman says. "It might take us an hour to finish a song or it might take us three months. It's just so amazing to come in and play with these guys They're all of my favorite musicians ever."
ANOTHER TRAGEDY (anothertragedy.net) performs at Annie's on Friday with The Host and Crooked Rook.