Andromeda: jam band perfection

Nathan Lane

I caught up with senior Sara Wexler, drummer of Andromeda, in the bowels of the Wriston Art Center late on a Tuesday evening. While she cleaned up the debris of her visual art endeavors, I leveled some questions about Andromeda’s history and recent work.
Wexler founded Andromeda at the very end of her sophomore year with lead guitarist Ted Johnson, also a sophomore at the time. The music they made was somber and emotional, fraught with meaning and Wagnerian drama.
“We liked to call it alternamope” Wexler remarked lightheartedly upon their early music efforts. “We took ourselves very seriously.”
Since that time, Andromeda has acquired the talented Mr. Art Shipley on bass guitar and Carolyn Armstrong on vocals. Despite the addition of a singer, the instrumentalists in the band don’t take a back seat to the vocal line; much of the music is instrumental as it was in the original formation of the group.
The band’s sound has changed somewhat since the earliest incarnation of the group. Where before the music was dark and repetitive, it is now upbeat and cheerful. Wexler draws on diverse sources for her playing, including afro-Cuban beats and odd time signatures. Among the band’s influences are Magwai, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin.
Wexler didn’t ascribe any grand plan or abstruse meaning to the band’s efforts. The band appears to be defined by a loose, natural approach to their music. “We’re kind of a jam band,” Wexler said, “which I think is the purest form of music.”
Casual attitude toward composition aside, they would still like be taken seriously; Wexler describes it as “exploring their musical connection.”
“Part of the point of our music is that it’s live,” Wexler said. Andromeda is curiously without a Myspace page or readily available recordings. With talk of connection and improvisation, the group seems to have an old-timey jam band sensibility about performing. However, there is a recording forthcoming, sometime in the next few weeks, provided it gets seen to. I had a feeling that this is one of those things that will get done only if the band didn’t have much else to do.
That said, don’t mistake their laid-back approach for indifference. Wexler said that they’re “all perfectionists,” and that they spend a lot of time refining their material. Concerts do come from a set list, though they always make room for one totally improvisatory jam.
The band rehearses every Tuesday in the Underground Coffeehouse and tries to perform every week, so you’re quite likely to hear them at some point. They play at a variety of on-campus gigs, things like Shack-a-thon and the ALS benefit. Their next gig is this Sunday at South-East side days, the outdoor event put on by Trever and Sage. When asked if there would be any gigs beforehand Wexler, typically low-key, said that they might put on an outdoor show before that at some point, but there’s really no way to know.