Full steam ahead 

Photo: Tess Baez

Seventeen years is a long time for anyone. For a rock band, it’s an eternity.

Yet things haven’t gotten stale over the course of Traindodge’s nearly two decades together, thanks in part to a willingness to evolve that finds the Oklahoma City act chugging along as strong and excited today as it was in 1996.

“Musically, we started off in a post-hardcore, Fugazi, herky-jerky-changes-and-tempo-shifts mode. We practiced six days a week, so we were able to do that with minimal effort,” said guitarist and singer Jason Smith. “It wasn’t a drag to play, but we started to respect some of the simpler things and chilled out with some math rock and prog stuff. Our experience has been that it translates better live, and as listeners, that’s closer to where we hedge now.”

It’s a metamorphosis listeners can hear over the course of Traindodge’s five previous studio albums and nearing completion with the latest, Supernatural Disasters.

“We’ve been on this prog trajectory, but this record is really stripped-down and simple,” Smith said. “It’s still sci-fi and proggy in spirit, but musically, it’s a 180.”

Influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath and Deep Purple and propelled by a title that merges H.P. Lovecraft with CNN, Supernatural Disasters represents not just the longest gap between releases (the first since 2009’s I Am Forever), but also some of the biggest growth and changes, both sonically and logistically, as drummer — and Smith’s brother — Rob had relocated to Atlanta in the interim.

“We demoed the whole thing on GarageBand and did a lot of emailing back and forth to make edits. When we finally agreed on the arrangements, luckily, the studio we chose was in Atlanta,” Jason Smith said. “It was kind of neat that we were able to piece it together without having to drill the songs over and over again. There are still songs we haven’t gone through together yet.”

Joined by bassist Chris Allen and guitarist Ross Lewis, Traindodge will do just that on Saturday night at The Conservatory. The quartet fully intends to play Supernatural Disasters in its entirety. Because the tracks are not as highly involved and orchestrated as in the past, the guys will perform without the aid of technological crutches.

With a couple of jaunts through the Midwest already booked and an eye on Europe next year, Traindodge doesn’t look to be slowing down anytime soon.

“We were making records that we couldn’t really recreate outside of the studio. We didn’t want that this time,” Smith said. “We have a solid record of songs we could play anywhere. It’s the simplest thing we’ve ever done.”

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