Silly, yet serious, art

BY TOMMY MORGAN JR. | MARCH 11, 2010 7:30 AM

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mp3 sample: Lonelyhearts

"Harlequin Bands"

For the Lonelyhearts, good things come in twos.

The members of the two-person band, keyboardist/vocalist Andre Perry and guitarist/vocalist John Lindenbaum, live in two different states, and they formed the Lonelyhearts as a side project when they each were in other bands.

All the twos, however, will become one when the Lonelyhearts brings its minimalist sound to the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St., at 9 p.m. Saturday. The Woes and Shame Train will also play. Admission is $6.

The Lonelyhearts started in 2002, when Perry and Lindenbaum lived in San Francisco. Perry began the band as a solo project when recording a song for a friend’s magazine compilation. When the bands he and Lindenbaum were in began to dissolve, the Lonelyhearts became a duo.

Lindenbaum only plays in the Lonelyhearts right now, and Perry is also keyboardist/vocalist for the local group Datagun.

Perry said the inspiration for the band’s minimalistic approach to songs came when he saw solo sets by Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle and Radiohead singer Thom Yorke, where they played their band’s songs without much backing.

“It was really interesting to see the band in that form,” Perry said about Lytle’s performance. “It’s cool to see him perform those songs in that stripped-down manner.”

While the Lonelyhearts adds extra layers to its songs when recording, Lindenbaum said that during performances, it’s usually just Perry and him. The guitarist said he views the group’s work as an “alternative to our big, loud, elaborate rock bands.”

Having only two members and keeping its songs simple has also helped the Lonelyhearts be able to continue its existence while Lindenbaum and Perry are apart.

Perry, who is also a booking agent at the Mill, lives in Iowa City, and Lindenbaum resides in Fort Collins, Colo. Perry said the two get together in cycles, meeting at different times of the year to write, record, or tour. The show at the Mill is a one-off get-together while the two meet to work on new songs.

“It’s great, we are able to focus and get something done,” Perry said, noting that the Lonelyhearts’ last EP took only a few days to record. “If you try to do too many things, you’ll just lose your focus and not get anything done.”

Lindenbaum said that the intense focus, and that they spend so much time apart, keeps things simple and fresh.

“A 15-minute prog-rock epic is sort of out of the question if you only have a day to write it,” he said. “We don’t really spend a lot of time haggling about song parts. We don’t have a lot of battles over songwriting.”

There is, however, a “What If?” element to writing and recording in such a short time, Lindenbaum admitted.

“I’m always thinking, ‘What could happen if we had 10 days instead of five?’ ” he said.

This is perhaps accounted for, Perry said, their collaborating via e-mail.

Lindenbaum said that while he and Perry accomplish a lot of work during their time together, he views it as a sort of getaway.

“It really is the best way to have a vacation,” the guitarist said. “Playing in a band is about as much fun as you can have on a vacation.”

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