Biography

Brian Dunn - Voice, Guitar

Jamie Arentzen - Guitar, Voice

Brian Nolan - Drums

Dudley Wyman - Bass, Voice


Sky Heroes are a hard-hitting, soul-drenched Boston quartet with a self-titled debut EP (Fort Apache) released in July 1996 and a full-length CD, The Realm of Your Concern, on the way.


From the Pixies to Sebadoh, Boston has long been a premier breeding ground for indie-rock notables. The secret to its success is a vibrant and supportive local scene. With little more than a year's worth of gigging under their belts, Sky Heroes have shared the stage with the likes of Fuzzy, Letters To Cleo, Jack Drag, and Tanya Donelly. "The name Sky Heroes comes from a poor translation of a Polynesian myth," explains the soft-spoken Brian Dunn. "It's kind of a loose way to describe the spiritual world."


Originally spread throughout the Northeast, Dunn, Arentzen, Nolan, and Wyman came together in Boston in the early 1990s for school and music. "Brian and I met in college," explains bassist Dudley Wyman, whose career in genetic research still helps with the bills. Says Dunn, "I had been writing these songs for some time -- years -- and it reached a point where I had to put a band together." Soon after, Dunn dropped graduate school and became a full-time musician. "Sort of a reverse career move," he says with a grin.


It was slow-going at first. Wyman, with his thick-as-syrup bass lines, was an obvious first choice. "But he played hard to get," chides Dunn. Nolan was busy as well with a smattering of drumming gigs including a stint with Tracy Bonham. By the fall of 1995, Sky Heroes were complete and making the rounds at such clubs as The Middle East and TT the Bears. Says Wyman, "We were having a lot of fun playing out, but we knew that in order to get to the next level as a band we'd need a record deal. So we made a tape." Recorded in red-eye shifts at a handful of local studios, the five-song demo laid the groundwork for the kind of rough-hewn, roots-based sound that would later dominate The Realm of Your Concern. Some tracks sounded so good they were simply remixed and used on the CD.


One of those demos found its way to Fort Apache in Cambridge, Massachusetts. "I found their tape in a box marked 'listen' and before I'd gotten through the first song I was leaving a message on Brian's answering machine. Since I hate almost everything, I took my impulsive response as a very good sign," explains Gary Smith, who heads the record-company arm of Fort Apache Studios. A showcase at TT's later that month sealed the deal; Sky Heroes became the third signing in what is shaping up to be an eclectic roster at The Fort.


The Realm of Your Concern is a jewel of pop songsmithing and a remarkably mature piece of musicianship from a band that has just begun to pay its dues on the road. Producer/engineer Scott Riebling (Letters to Cleo) and mixer Paul Q. Kolderie (production and mixing credits include Hole and Radiohead) have captured a sound of startling immediacy: shuddering, virulent guitars and a rhythm section that's all muscle and groove. Dunn's impassioned cooing has the power to seduce, and when disappointment gives way to rage, as in "With Pity, but Without Grace", you can't help but get the chills.


t's good old-fashioned soul that lives and breathes in these tracks, and ultimately is among the band's most defining characteristics. From the raucous "Sinnerman" to the mournful "Unrequited" to the foot-stomping Baptist revival of "God's Got to Bless That Girl", Sky Heroes reach deep into the muck of human spirit and wear its cloak of emotions in a way that sets them apart from today's cheeky pop scene. The Realm of Your Concern is of the flesh -- bruises, scrapes and all. "It seems like a lot of bands these days are using irony as a shield," says guitarist Jamie Arentzen, "whereas we're more up-front about the emotional content in our music."


Dunn explains, "Many of the songs deal with human tensions, things that pull us in different directions and things not being what they seem." Indeed, with a deft economy of phrase, The Realm of Your Concern calls upon image after poignant image of self betrayal and revelation. "My secret sickness, sign of my weakness," confesses "Silver Blackness". Throughout The Realm of Your Concern there is also a quality of reticent disappointment. "I tried to love myself. And when that didn't work, I tried to love you," writes Dunn in "There are Two Things". More succinctly, he asks in the beautiful "Unrequited", "Is that all?"


What's life like for the band now that they're out of the studio and back on the club circuit? "Great," says drummer Brian Nolan. "For one thing, we all get along. That means everything when you're stuck in a van eight hours a day. Also, we respect each other's musical backgrounds and tastes -- and we've got some pretty varied influences. You can expect just about anything to pop in the tape deck when we're driving. The only time things get weird is when Dunn reaches for the Schumann."


"The band specialize in well-crafted guitar pop with a dark, emotional undercurrent" Boston Phoenix


"These tunes speak volumes" "Very cool" Grid Magazine


"Experimental and engaging" The Noise


This bio was written by our friend Chris Link from the band Lazlo Bane.

(This bio was written for the original Sky Heroes website in 1996.)

 

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