The old adage declares that “music is life.” For the gentlemen of D.C. band Soft Complex, that holds especially true.
When the foursome aren’t spending time together rehearsing or playing out, you can generally find them working hard at their day jobs — all in some aspect of the music industry. Vocalist Shane German and drummer Rich Dejong work for music royalties companies, bassist Mike Harbin works in CD duplication and guitarist Chris Connelly works in publicity.
“Everyone tries to keep their music lives and their professional lives separate,” Connelly says. He notes however that they have all learned more than a few lessons about the business that they’ve been able to apply to their band — even if those lessons have sometimes made the industry seem all the more daunting.
“In some respects you see the number of bands out there and the money involved. The scale of the music business is mind boggling,” Connelly says. “Along with that though we’ve learned lessons of what to do and what not to do and earned some connections along the way.”
The climb to success in the music industry might appear more daunting if the band was dead set at hitting it big with a record deal. According to Connelly, however, that goal would be more or less a happy side effect of the main reason they continue to play together.
“We do this for fun first and foremost,” he says. “We treat it seriously and professionally, but I wouldn’t say that our goal is to ‘make it.’ At this point, our goal is to creat something we like and are proud of. We use this as a creative outlet.”
The creative side is certainly high for those in the band, as they all hail from different musical backgrounds. Harbin played in punk bands typical of the late ’80s – ’90s D.C. scene, spending time with J. Robbins of Jawbox, Burning Airlines and Channels fame. Dejong has played with “spacy-rock” band Phaser and funk-rock group Baby Fat. Connelly grew up playing the sax and listening to John Coltrane and Charlie Parker before getting into the grunge phase with the majority of his generation. The last group that German fronted was a rockabilly band.
Combined under the Soft Complex monicker though, the collective effort falls under more of a dance-emo header. Of course, even their EP, Barcelona, sports a number of different looks. The album features three songs, “Beat the Chill,” “Sad Note” and the title track, “Barcelona,” as well as a remix of “Sad Note” and two remixes each of “Barcelona” and “Beat the Chill” that fit into the dance halls and rap realm.
“It’s hard. We write slowly, figuring out how to best meld things together,” Connelly says. “But it’s also fun. It’s why I play music in a band. You’ll see something that you might never have known was there if you had just [written and played] it individually.
“At times this band is frustrating since it takes a lot of time to do what we’ve done much faster before [with other bands], but I’ve grown a lot. I have a much broader conception of how to work in a band and come up with a music that’s your own.”
The group is currently set to kick out its original jams on a full-length album in the coming months. They’re in the process now of picking the studio and prepping their material for what Connelly thinks should be a 10-14 song effort.
“I think being a studio band is really fun,” Connelly says. “You get to actually hear what you’re doing. You’re not so busy playing that you can’t critique what you’re doing.
Connelly and his mates will get a chance to share some of those new tracks with concertgoers at Saturday’s (Sept. 8) late show sponsored by DCist at 9:30 Club with Georgie James, The Dance Party and DJ Will Eastman. Tickets are $10 and doors open at 11 p.m.
• For more information on Soft Complex, visit www.softcomplexmusic.com.