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An attic and a snowstorm

BY ERIC SUNDERMANN | OCTOBER 05, 2009 7:20 AM

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mp3 samples: Nurses

"Caterpillar Playground"

"Technicolor"

Home — a place to put your books. Or take a shower. Or hang your jacket. Or go to sleep. For four months, Aaron Chapman and John Bowers lived without common commodities in a van on the streets of Chicago.

Now, with the help of friends, they have emerged to form experimental pop group Nurses. The band will take the stage at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., at 9 p.m. today. Admission is $6.

“Both John and I still feel like we’re recovering from that because it was such an extreme circumstance,” Chapman said. “I think, in a sense, it was a really dark period in our lives — more so than we knew at that particular moment. And then growth came from getting back in touch with ourselves, and blossoming out of that, and getting in touch with the lighter side of things in life.”

Nurses carry a sound difficult to place, finding footing between psychedelic rock and electronica. While the members were visiting Idaho, they created their début album, Apple’s Acre, on Apple software Garageband in an attic during a snowstorm.

“I’m really happy we were able to do that,” Chapman said. “When we started recording, it wasn’t with the intention of anyone hearing what we were coming up with. It was more, ‘We’re stuck here, we have all these ideas.’ ”

Because neither of the two were familiar with the program, Chapman said figuring it out while recording allowed the band to explore interesting and nontraditional music.

“That discovery process and just being very spontaneous, moving very quickly and figuring it out as we went a long definitely played an important role,” he said.

The Mill’s booking agent, Andre Perry, compares Nurses’ sound with the likes of psychedelic poppers Animal Collective, but he emphasizes that the group brings a distinct sound as well.

“They’re definitely dealing with the same sounds and aesthetics,” Perry said. “Even though they are working in the same world, they are writing songs that sound like Nurses, with different uses of percussion and rhythms.”

The inability to define Nurses’ sound also flows to Chapman’s lyrics which are full of ambiguity. He hopes people take their own interpretation.

“I think that is part of what we are doing, not necessarily consciously but partly, was this idea that there isn’t any sort of specific meaning or way things are that we’re trying to communicate that’s right,” he said. “But more so, [create] an individual experience you can actively engage with and use as a catalyst for discovery.”

He is thankful for the current state of the band and the ability to analyze the past to create art.

“That was an important part of the record — letting go of any sort of expectations and just let the natural themes come together,” he said. “And that’s all part of the story, how the situation worked out around what happened.”


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