With time brings change

From members to recording styles, Mittens On Strings are a continually changing band that keep their fans — and maybe even themselves — on their toes.
The band started in 2001, operating mostly during the summer since most of its members were at different schools around the country.
“Everyone would write songs, then we would get together a few days before beginning a tour or recording and work them out as a whole band,” bassist Jonathan Schenke said.
Their first album, Look Up At The Sky, was released in 2006 while working on this type of schedule. It was piecemealed together through various sessions and recorded mostly in houses and at the radio station at Northwestern University where two of the members worked. The group cited Velvet Underground and Neil Young as influences.
The band released their second album in late 2009, entitled Let’s Go To Baba’s, through a much different process. The band was still living in separate areas, but this time they booked studio space.
“The record took on a life of its own,” Schenke said. “We were in studios doing overdubs well after hours.”
Today the lineup of the band is quite different from the first incarnation; in fact, the group has seen several member changes throughout their career.
“It’s really just always been about playing music with your friends,” Schenke said about the lineup changes. “It’s been fun to go back to the old material and see how it works with a new group of people.”
Throughout the years, the group has had some great experiences: playing at events like SXSW and CMJ and opening for groups the likes of Yeasayer, Dirty Projectors, Frog Eyes and Grizzly Bear.
“Every once in a while we will see photos of a one of those groups we have played with onstage, and they’ll be wearing a Mittens On Strings t-shirt,” Schenke said.
Now the entire group is living together in one house and just finished recording a brand new EP.
“We did the recording live, all in one room,” Schenke said. “It was really rewarding at the end of a week like that, to end with something to show for it. It really gives you a deeper appreciation for what you are doing.”
The group has no concrete plans for the rest of the year other than releasing the new EP.
Schenke suggested that they might make a few videos for some of the songs on the newest album of the EP. As for the show at Mike N’ Molly’s, people can expect one thing: rock and roll.
Audience members can get raffle tickets from the group at the beginning of the show and win various items throughout the night — a used copy of a Steven King book, t-shirts, records, or a candle carved as a woman giving head.
Check out Mittens On Strings at Mike N’ Molly’s in downtown Champaign on March 13.

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