I’m going to do two things at once, expose you to a band, and disappoint you. But you’ll be better off for it. I promise.
If you’ve never heard of The Receiving End of Sirens, don’t worry I don’t blame you. Not a whole lot of people have. But strange this time, that it isn’t because their music is so obtuse, or in a genre so obscure that only the musical elite who dare to bin dive in the local record store would come across them. It’s just because the band doesn’t exist anymore. Which is made even more confounding by the fact that they only ever put out two albums in the duration of their musical career, which loosely spanned over five years. During those five years, the band didn’t exactly explode in mainstream popularity, and they only ever really achieved the same level of musical courtesy that is extended to most no name artists to fill out festival bills. But why?
The group released their first album “Between the Heart and the Synapse” in 2005. A completely straight-ahead rock album, with some emo leanings, and an affinity for electronic effects yielded the band a decent following. And their sound was familiar, and distinct enough to separate themselves from the crowd, and opened opportunities to be put onto larger bills like Warped Tour, and as support for 30 Seconds To Mars. So when their then singer Casey Crescenzo decided to leave to pursue his project The Dear Hunter, things looked grim. Most bands have an immensely difficult time recalibrating themselves to cope with the departure of any member of their group, let alone the lead vocalist. So rather than face the prospect of finding a replacement, the band decided to add a keyboardist and another guitar to the mix in the form of Brian Southall, and simply changed their vocal lineup to make their bassist Brendan Brown the lead, and adjusted the vocal lineup around him.
It worked. Brilliantly. Their second album “The Earth Sing Mi Fa Mi” is an almost perfect album in every respect, and far surpasses their first. From the beautiful layered vocal work that showcased that Brendan Brown was clearly capable of replacing Casey, to the truly compassionate and in-arguably honest lyrics. The album immediately differentiated itself from “Heart and the Synapse” with the opening track “Swallow People Whole”, it showed a band that had greatly expanded and matured their sound, and stepped away from Casey’s panicked vocal style, and seemed more intent on setting a mood and pace for the rest of the album to follow. And it’s true that you got to see those flickers of their old selves for moments on more straight ahead tracks like “Oubliette”. But even those moments seemed far more controlled, and deliberate, and didn’t fall into the same genre traps that the previous album was guilty of getting caught in. No in fact, it’s quite obvious on songs like “Smoke and Mirrors” that there is a conscious effort to restrain the vocalists from ever feeling the need to scream a single line, a trend that continues seamlessly into the next track “A Realization of the Ear” and the rest of the album. It’s one of those rare instances where I can safely say that there isn’t a song that doesn’t belong, and more than that… the album is arranged in such a way that if you listened to it out of order, you would definitely be depriving yourself of an experience.
So with all that being said, it would seem elementary that the band would sweep the nation and take everyone by storm right? Absolutely, and it sure did seem that way immediately after the release of “The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi” in August of 2007. The band bolstered up its touring schedule, and began to play larger and larger shows in more and more places. And with a reputation for a live show that flawlessly replicated their sound note for note, they quickly gained fans in exponential numbers. So it was something of a shock when in May of 2008 TREOS announced that they would no longer continue on as a band.
When upset fans pressed for an explanation, Brendan Brown offered one in the form of this message that was posted to the bands MySpace.
“I, Brendan, must admit that I am the main reason why TREOS is ending. My choice to no longer continue on with The Receiving End of Sirens has nothing to do with a lack of love for my band, and/or band members. It has nothing to do with a lack of passion for our music, or any music for that matter. My decision is due mostly in part to a huge rearranging of priorities in my life, and the unquestionable responsibility that comes along with becoming a father. January 15 my wife and I welcomed Parker Brown, our first child, into the world. Since then everything has changed. The happiness and joy I gained from being part of this band can’t ever be taken away from me, but to be honest, I have lived a long time thinking that specific joy was as good as it got. Since Parker’s birth I have realized my joy is a great thing, in and of itself, but the happiness I receive from his happiness is exponentially greater than anything I could muster on my own. The thought of leaving him to tour for months at a time is something I just can’t stomach. I can’t stand to miss another thing. I realize how important I am to my band, and how important our band is to some people, but I am far more elemental in the growth and happiness of my child, than I am anything else in this world.” – Brendan Brown
The reaction to the news was just like anything in the bands career. Unexpected. Not only were they amazingly supportive of his decision, some of them even offered parenting tips, and to babysit. I suppose it shouldn’t have been hard to figure out that the same guy that wrote the lyrics for songs like “Pale Blue Dot” who’s main hook is the repeat “There’s no place like home.” would value his family life more than his music, but it’s definitely not something you hear about too often in an industry that’s notoriously motivated by money, and the pursuit of fame. And that’s really too bad. It’s far too often we hear of groups falling apart because someone is plagued with a horrendous drug problem, or because a member of the band decides their greed far outweighs the responsibility of basic civility. Quite honestly, those are the kind of stories I could stand to hear less of. But one of my favorite bands broke up because their lead singer wants to be a terrific father to his son? Yeah, that’s good stuff.
As of 2008
The Receiving End of Sirens lineup was
Brendan Brown – Vocals, Bass guitar
Alex Bars – Rhythm Guitar, Vocals
Nate Patterson – Lead Guitar
Andrew Cook – Drums
Brian Southall – Guitar, Keyboard
Ben Potrykus – Lead Vocals
Casey Crescenzo – Vocals, Guitar, Keys