Monday 21 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Imperial unit

Imperial unit

The friends that play together, stay together — and vice versa, according to the close-knit members of Norman’s Crown Imperial.

Joshua Boydston April 13th, 2011

Crown Imperial with Locust Avenue
9 p.m. Friday
Opolis, 113 N. Crawford, Norman 820-0951

Norman’s Crown Imperial is a no-name, lo-fi, indie-pop band. Or at least it was for its first show.

The group was born as a side project of garage rockers The Mean Spirits, and it had a gig at The HiLo before it had a moniker.

“The Mean Spirits were playing a show, and we had three songs, so we just got up and used their equipment and played them,” singer/guitarist Zach Massey said.

Added drummer Martin Kornhaas, “I think people just thought we were The Mean Spirits.”

After their second show, Massey was scrolling through a register of flower species when he landed on Crown Imperial. It stuck.

“We waited till we absolutely had to,” singer/guitarist Cali Tonnu said.

Just six months later, Crown Imperial already is making a name for itself, playing pure, straightforward and hard-to-describe rock songs.

“I wouldn’t say there’s an aesthetic in mind, other than simplicity — getting to the core of a song instead of the silly, superfluous bullshit,” Massey said. “We wanted to get to the catchy part, focus on it, and build on that.”

They’ve crafted a pleasant, jangly pop noise inspired by The Velvet Underground and Pixies, but it seems to be born out of the bonds of personal relationships more than anything. Kornhaas has been friends with bassist Wesley Dean since high school. Massey and Kornhaas have been Mean Spirits together for more than half a decade, and Massey and Tonnu are an item.

“Hopefully, the friendship aspect comes out in the music,” Kornhaas said. “It’s a big part of it.”

Said Tonnu, “I love these guys. We laugh a lot. Our band practices end up being eight hours long.”

“It’s hard to overstate the personal bonds,” Massey said. “It’s like a family: If we weren’t playing, we’d be sitting around listening to vinyl records and drinking beer.”

The intimacy helped them get over a few hardships, like what could have been a deflating experience playing at the 35 Conferette in Denton, Texas.

“We enjoy the car rides to shows as much as anything,” Kornhaas said. “We thought we’d be playing for tons of people, got to the festival, and played for like 15, 20. In other bands, we would have been really disappointed and slumped back home, but it just a blast riding down there and hanging out with each other.”

Playing home turf Friday at Opolis, Crown Imperial hopes you feel the love through its simple, shoegaze pop, although it seems unlikely love will ever match the love they feel for each other.

“I don’t know what separates us,” Massey said, “but I know this: We’re friends, we’re family, and we want to keep it straight to the heart of the issue, which is the essence of the song.”

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