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Teepee's Multi-faceted Rock Reaches Cafe Nine

Teepee

w/ Ghost of Chance and Florida=Death. $6 adv., $8 doors. 8 p.m., April 9. Cafe Nine, 250 State St., New Haven, cafenine.com

 

In the war of attrition between a young Erix S. Laurent and his parents over trivial disputes, the boy's most potent weapons were musical instruments. A key battle took place sometime circa 1995 when Laurent (a.k.a. 26-year-old Miami resident Eric Lopez-Zareno) really wanted a copy of The Lion King after the movie had just arrived on cassette. "I went to Sears and saw the VHS and I was like, 'Holy shit, I need this, so I could watch it a hundred times and cry during the scene where the mom dies or something,'" he says. Laurent insisted his mother buy it for him, but she was not having it. After regular pestering failed, the child picked up a keyboard lying around their residence and wrote a really sad, bitter song about how miserable he was without the Lion King tape. A week-ish later, the assault paid off, and his mom bought the cassette.

Laurent scored another big win in his teens when he wanted an electric guitar. His father dared him to play David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold The World" on an acoustic without stopping before he would buy him an electric, figuring that it would take his son a month to learn the tune. It took an obsessed Erix, however, only a few hours/days of practicing (timeline details vary) to have the tune down. A Fender Stratocaster was soon his.

As the architect of shoegaze/noise/indie rock solo-project-turned-full-band Teepee, Laurent is still using that persistence to pay dividends. The making of late 2012's Distant Love or: Time Never Meant Anything, and Never Will, his second record, testifies to that. Laurent assembled Teepee's 2009 debut Morals in about a month but decided to go a very different route with Distant Love. He started working on this album — a thing shaded by Brian Eno, My Bloody Valentine, Portishead and Slowdive — in mid-2010 and finally finished in December 2011.

Laurent dedicated major chunks of time to waiting for the right guest personnel to open their schedules, recording the album in a bevy of places because certain rooms didn't sound right and mixing Distant Love until it was up to the high standards he and producer Albert Ovadia demanded. Spending five hours on one song's drone sound was no big deal.

In time, friends began wondering where Laurent had gone and why his project was taking so long, but the Teepee front man thought nothing of the commitment. "The album is an art form, and it's going to live longer than my physical body. It's going to be out there forever, so we figured, 'From the start, let's make it perfect — or at least to our ears.'" The resulting bittersweet, melody-rich full-length really does sound like the product of obsession in a very complimentary way.

To a degree, Laurent owes his entire career choice to that old rivalry. At some point between the Lion King and Stratocaster incidents, Laurent was killing time in AOL chat rooms when his mom encouraged him to do something more productive like play a sport or play an instrument. Erix saw a guitar (presumably, the acoustic) sitting around and picked it up. Eventually, music took over his life. "My mom and I speak about it now, and she's like, 'I wanted you to play guitar 'cause you were just sitting around, but I didn't want you to make a career out of it.' I was like, 'Well, whatever. Now, I'm obsessed, so I can't stop,'" Laurent says, sounding quite aware of the ridiculousness of these stories. "I guess I won on that end, too."

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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