Do the math: Other Lives does not equal Kunek.
Songwriter Jesse Tabish, a member of both projects with cellist Jenny Hsu and drummer Colby Owens, is quick to point out that the beloved Stillwater band Kunek and newer group Other Lives aren’t exactly the same thing.
“It was mutual parting with another member. It wasn’t the same band without him,” Tabish said. “Out of respect for him, and what was best for us, was to start anew.”
The clean break allowed for new directions.
“Other Lives is more of a recording project,” he said. “It’s not a band hashing out tunes in a room. It’s a recording process, then we figure things out as a five-piece.”
This meant that “Tamer Animals,” the group’s Tuesday release, is a more personal affair for Tabish.
“I had songwriting goals, where I imagined the evolution of where I wanted the songs to go,” he said. “Because a band can be limiting, I wanted a more idealistic approach to writing, not just what a band can do.”
The self-imposed structure pushed him.
“The main goal was to break away from a previous approach and become more dimensional — to build, as opposed to things being so linear,” Tabish said.
The result is a lush, elegant, deeply felt, indie-pop album that inhabits a unique mood. He didn’t plan for its cohesion, but the outcome is pleasant.
“You always hope for that,” he said. “When you’re inside a project for 14 months, you’re going to acquire some of the same sounds.”
Other welcomed pieces of news were recent supporting spots for widely respected acts The National and The Decemberists. Also, “Tamer Animals” is being unleashed via TBA Records, the same organization that puts out Radiohead’s physical releases stateside. Tabish keeps all these brushes with fame in perspective.
“I feel lucky. It’s always out of our control, so when it comes up, it’s always a nice surprise,” he said.
Listeners are in luck Friday, as Other Lives shares the bill with Colourmusic at ACM@UCO’s Performance Lab. The bands, both from Stillwater, will showcase their new albums.
“Colourmusic is literally our neighbors and our best friends. We’ve been playing parallel to each other for the past eight years,” Tabish said. “We’re in love with them as people and as musicians. We are as close to them as a band can be. They’ve been like a brother band.”
While Colourmusic melts faces and Other Lives soothes ears, the bands have much in common.
“We have different styles, but at the core there’s a similar approach to how it’s all run: living in Oklahoma, recording and producing on our own,” Tabish said. “My dream would be that the two of us could be on the road together. Hopefully, one of us will be successful and take the other one out.”