By Jim Schutze
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By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
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"The big fight scene," Dover pipes in enthusiastically.
Despite their active imaginations and astral aspirations, the members of The Falcon Project are firmly rooted in reality. They recoil at the suggestion that they are pioneers or leaders of at least a small part of Denton's brilliantly fragmented music scene, a not so far-out notion when you consider that Dover once booked The Argo and masterminded the Melodica Festival. Both Dover and bassist Will Kapinos attend the University of North Texas with careers in mind (Dover talks about wanting to pursue electro-acoustic computer music--let's call it film scoring), while Kirkpatrick, who has graduated from college, says he's never looked at music as a primary source of income.
"We're still so young, and there's a ton of bands around here that are better than we are. I'll be the first to admit that," says Kirkpatrick. Dover defines himself as a realist, adding, "Anybody who wants to make a living making music is a fool. We make music because it's fun and a good way to express yourself."
This wide-eyed fascination, this belief that making music is essentially rewarding simply because it's enjoyable, is exactly what makes the members of The Falcon Project so affable. They're a Denton-based band that wants to remain a Denton-based band or, as Dover modestly characterizes, "a bunch of college-town folkies who get together and jam out together a couple times a week." Kirkpatrick and Kapinos have been doing just that since 1994 in Denton's Maxine's Radiator. Kapinos is also the guitarist-singer for Jet Screamer, which just released an EP recorded by Dave Willingham--the producer of Sonic Soular, as well as albums by Mazinga Phaser, Sub Oslo, Light Bright Highway, and Go Metric USA.
In fact, Dover is prone to speak with reverence about indie-label success stories such as Gastr Del Sol's Jim O'Rourke (best known for producing the likes of Stereolab, John Fahey, and Smog) and Tortoise, artists not buoyed by mainstream popularity. He seeks success on the small scale--though indie-rock these days is teeming with miniature heroes.
Dover likes to talk about the evils of such events as the upcoming South by Southwest Music Conference in Austin; he bemoans the fact that bands go to Austin hoping to get "discovered," signed to a major, made rich and famous in a magical moment. His disdain for South by Southwest is part of the reason he continues to organize the annual Melodica Festival, a music showcase that Dover hopes will inspire some unity among Texas bands; performers in recent years include the likes of Lift to Experience, Roshanda Red Quartet, and Sub Oslo along with such luminaries as Tortoise and the Sea and Cake. He admits frustration with last year's festival--which was held in Austin only because The Argo was shut down--terming the event a "disaster" because of poor promotion and an ominous Austin vs. Dallas vibe; indeed, the thing went so poorly that it inspired a song on Sonic Soular called "Texas Is the Reason," which Dover insists is about the failure of Melodica in Austin. But Dover says he'll keep putting on Melodica because the people who appreciate it really appreciate it.
"People tell me that they had a great time at Melodica because there were good bands, no B.S., and no poseurs," Dover says. "People come out there to do some honest expression of themselves. Melodica does tend to shy away from bands who are just looking to get signed to a major label. We're not really interested in those bands. They're not welcome, and we don't want them."
The Falcon Project, which also includes drummer Matt Lawrence, actually began recording together while Dover was still in Mazinga Phaser, a band he left because he and the other members weren't on the same page musically. He doesn't talk about the specifics leading to his departure, only mentioning that at the end, they didn't rehearse much--something about different goals, tension, the usual junk. (Mazinga will actually release its first post-Dover record, a 30-minute EP, at the end of February on Erv Karwelis' Idol Records label--the same local indie handling The Falcon Project.) But he does say that finding common ground and getting along with his partners in The Falcon Project is a breeze compared with what he was used to.
Kirkpatrick adds soberly, "It's not that we don't have problems and tension; it's just that we talk about them when we do. We don't let them build up. Being in a band is all about breaking down a set of walls or building them up. And if you don't communicate and work on it actively, they're going up whether you realize it or not.
"Somebody told me the other night that our individual personalities were really starting to blend together and form a unit. They could put their finger on a sound that they could say was ours. That was one of the best things I've heard.