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Chicago-based band performs at the Mill

BY SAMANTHA GENTRY | FEBRUARY 02, 2012 7:20 AM

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On an average day in the Bailiff household, the band members wake up to blaring Beatles' songs around noon and empty Domino's pizza containers in the kitchen.

There is no heat in the band's rehearsal room. So when it comes time to play, the musicians usually huddle around a space heater wearing fingerless gloves, hats, and scarves.

Band drummer Ren Mathew said living with the group members influences their performance on stage.

"One piece of advice that I've found helpful was to connect with the band outside the music, such as cook breakfast together," Mathew said. "I remember thinking that was so amazing, because you're doing something intimate with each other and that if you don't know the person you're making music with, then you aren't taking advantage of that."

Bailiff will showcase its onstage chemistry at 9 p.m. Saturday at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $8.

The band started in 2006, when lead singer and guitarist Josh Siegel met Mathew on Craigslist.

"I knew I needed somebody who was OK with taking ideas and jamming on them to experiment," Siegel said. "We clicked right off the bat and have been rehearsing ever since."

Many bass players have jammed for Bailiff, and the band recently gained its latest member, Owen O'Malley.

While he said it's been a challenge joining the duo, it's also been a fun experience.

"These are the two of the best musicians I've ever played with," O'Malley said. "They make me play to my best ability, and I've learned a lot."

The three-piece group has never played in Iowa City before, but a friend told them that the Mill is the "best place to play in the city" and that it has an "old mystique" to it.

"We're really just hoping to show our music to an audience that hasn't heard it before and start to build up a following in Iowa," Siegel said.

During its tour across the Midwest, Bailiff will play songs from its d├ębut album, Red Balloon, which was released in June 2011.

The band wanted to create an album with the idea that when people pop it in and press play, it feels like one big song.

The themes of the songs range from childhood to heartache to nostalgia as the band experiments playing various styles that can go many directions.

"We wanted to make a dark-pop album," Siegel said. "My goal was to take exotic influences from other countries and turn them into American pop songs."

Siegel and Mathew said they have been exposed to a lot of different music, so using Indian, African, and blues rhythms in their songs is something that captivated them.

Siegel recalls hearing a hip-hop influence in some of the songs because of the strong drumbeats.

"It's a crazy process, and we just kind of sit down to do work, and you never know what song is going to come out," Siegel said. "We just kind of stick to the process, put in the time, and figure out what it is."

After hitting the Midwest, the band will travel to the West Coast before ending its tour in New York.

"The thing I miss while on tour is that you almost get no time by yourself," Siegel said. "But other than that, I love it and I'll always love it. I feel like myself when we're on the road."


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