The Separation, by any other name, would likely sound as sweet, but there would certainly be far fewer moniker-related coincidences.
Shortly after singer/guitarist David Hoffner started the band with friend John Whitaker in 2004, the duo was separated by unexpected circumstance.
NO SMALL FEAT
"(John) left on the road for a while, maybe being a roadie, and we were still working while he was on the road," Hoffner said. "Then, he went to Europe and got into trouble in France. It wasn't his fault. He kind of got set up, but he still had Internet access somehow, so we kept working. I guess, in a cheesy way, that's how the name The Separation came about. We were working on the songs separately, but together."
A mere week and a half after Whitaker's return to the States, the Norman-based act played its first show, opening for acclaimed indie outfit Elf Power " a gig that came together after the pair scrambled to assemble a live band and schedule daily rehearsals.
Over the next couple of years, The Separation's lineup evolved, resulting in Whitaker's departure and the eventual settlement on today's Separation: Lindsay Egle on keyboards, Brad Fielder on guitar, Matthew Robertson on bass and Jeremy Shannon behind the drums.
"The lineup changed constantly until about two years ago," Hoffner said. "Everything seemed to be going well with us and how we all worked together, so we proceeded to start recording."
NO SMALL FEAT
Recording the band's debut has been no small feat, emphasized by the two-year gap " or separation, if you will " in starting and finishing the product.
"It's just schedule problems with everybody involved," Hoffner said. "We all have day jobs. I'm an art and production manager for World's Fair, Jeremy is an engineer of some sort, Lindsay is a librarian, Brad is a photographer and Matt, it depends on what day you ask " so that gets in the way. We were working with Allan Vest producing it, and at the time, he was finishing the Starlight Mints' last album and working on several other things. Then they went out on tour, and that set us back a month or two. So we didn't actually spend two years on the album, but that was the time it took to actually get it done."
The result " a self-titled, 10-song release that will debut 9 p.m. Friday with a CD release show at Norman's Opolis " is fast-paced; an almost comically virtuosic product that utilized the full talents of The Separation's individual members, including songwriting skills that even Hoffner was unaware of until the writing and recording began.
"I guess I'm the main songwriter, but it just depends on what I think I have the capability to bring to the song," he said. "I like giving everyone else free rein. I'm always surprised, especially with Brad and Lindsay.
"A while back, I had this song, and I thought it was going to be really cool with this guitar line. At practice, Brad said, 'This would sound good on the trumpet,' and I said, 'Aw, too bad we don't have a trumpet player.' He said, 'Oh, I've got a trumpet.' And then Lindsay said, 'I could do the counterpart and play the clarinet!' and I said, 'Holy shit. You play clarinet?' I'm just constantly amazed at what they bring to it."
It's these individual contributions that likely endear spectators to The Separation's live show, although Hoffner is careful to note that the band's inherent personality isn't designed to deter attention from the music.
"All of that stuff just kind of evolves with the band. I don't know if the color scheme (cyan, magenta, yellow and black, present on the band's MySpace page and in the cover art for the new record) and the unicorns (on older Separation merchandise) really describe our music at all," he said. "The color scheme goes with the name of the band and the job that I do. I work with art, and separations are what you deal with in printing " another play on the band name, but nothing that we take seriously."
But The Separation clearly takes music seriously. After the prolonged production of the first record and even before its release, the group is already looking forward. Barring international legal trouble and involved parties' absences, Friday's CD release show will still contain a few happier surprises.
"The show will be a little half and half. It's a CD release show, so we want to play the songs on the album, but maybe half the set is new songs," Hoffner said. "It'll be the first time we play them. We've got a whole bunch of new stuff we're starting to demo for the next album. Hopefully, that one will go a lot quicker." "Becky Carman