Jailhouse Rock

Lo-Fi Chorus front man Erik Thompson melds pleasant hooks with the wild side

Erik Thompson was once a real wild fucker. When he first arrived on Denton's doorstep in 1991 he came sporting a mischievous grin and a roguish gleam in his eyes. You could tell right away he was trouble—relatively harmless, but trouble nonetheless. Fifteen years later, escaping permanent capture or total destruction, he has channeled his rascally ways into a passion for making music.

Lo-Fi Chorus was formed in 1998 as an outlet for all the folk songs Thompson was composing in jail. He emerged from a short visit to the county clink inspired and began playing solo gigs around town. It came as no huge shock—most folks who stick around Denton long enough will eventually pick up a guitar. But it's always nice when the noise they make is noise worth listening to. In Thompson's case, his natural charm, sarcastic wit and ability to sweet-talk any girl within earshot right out of her tank top comes through loud and clear in both his songs and his swagger. As he puts it, "The kid's got char-azzma."

During the following three years, Thompson collaborated with a variety of local talent, including members of Centro-matic and Slobberbone. Lo-Fi's self-titled CD debut came from those collaborations and quickly became a staple of local music lovers. Eventually, Thompson found the right mix of talent and (alcohol) tolerance in drummer Eric Eisenman and bassist Chad Walls, adding Lance Lander on keyboards and guitar in March of 2004. Lo-Fi evolved into a four-piece with bite, touring the state and later the Midwest to modest success.

Roguish and rowdy: Lo-Fi Chorus' Erik Thompson
Roguish and rowdy: Lo-Fi Chorus' Erik Thompson

Two years later they are poised to release Something in the Air, a reflection of the cohesion and chemistry of the band's current lineup. The album's 11 songs are a well-developed display of character and diversity. Songs such as "Record Player" and "Stories" capture the soulful twang Lo-Fi has long loved and perfected, while others, such as "Billions of People," break from that tradition with power and panache. "Broken Glass" strays farther, even at conception. "Usually I write the melody and lyrics first," Thompson explains. "The other guys write all their own parts. But with this one I started with the rhythm. I knew how I wanted the bass and drums to sound. I had to work that out with the band, and the rest of the song came later."

Lo-Fi Chorus celebrates the release of Something in the Air this Saturday night at Darkside Lounge with Denton rockers Bridges and Blinking Lights and Dallas mockers the Dutch Treats. George Neal (former Little Grizzly front man), who recently shared a stage with Lo-Fi, promises "a dynamic and amazing show," adding, "but it's also solid, musically. Typically it's either one or the other—a band that's really tight will have no presence, or vice versa. But these guys all sound fantastic—and Erik really commands the stage."

Neal makes a fine point. Thompson may spend a lot less time in jail these days, but a quick glance at that mischievous grin will tell you he's just one double scotch (or double dare) from rediscovering the real wild fucker inside.

 
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