By Jeremy Hallock
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By Observer Staff
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Alejandra Deheza never thought she'd be where she is now. Playing in a rock band was never part of her plan. In fact, everything that's happened in her music career up until now has been a fluke. But she and her identical twin sister Claudia, along with formerly Dallas-based musician Benjamin Curtis, are finally setting out to do things deliberately—the culmination of which can be heard on School Of Seven Bells' new shoegaze-electric album Disconnect From Desire.
"I had never been in a band before, and I had no interest," Deheza says of her life before music. "It wasn't what I thought I was going to do."
It seems like an odd statement from a singer whose band has already released two critically acclaimed albums and toured the world several times over. In the beginning, though, she had her sights set on something completely different.
"I wanted to write poetry," she says. "It's the thing that I love the most."
All it took was a chance invitation to get her on the music path, though. An acquaintance who was playing a gig at the popular New York venue The Knitting Factory mistakenly thought that Deheza was in a band and invited her to open the show. Instead of declining and explaining that she wasn't in a band, she accepted the invitation. She called her sister and told her that they had one month to write some songs. The two worked hard to throw together a set—and the gig went so well that they decided to keep making music under the name On! Air! Radio!. The band, however, never really got serious, even when it was offered an opening slot on Interpol's 2004 tour. On that tour, the band ended up sharing support duties with The Secret Machines.
Little did Deheza know that when she met then-Secret Machines guitarist Curtis that they would be successfully making music together in the future.
The formation of School Of Seven Bells wasn't immediate, though. On! Air! Radio! didn't dissolve until around 2007, and Deheza continued to doubt her desire to make music until the girls received another chance invitation. Curtis, who had recently left Secret Machines, invited the girls to get a band together with him.
"I'm not going to turn that down—that's crazy," Deheza says of the invitation. "He was definitely my favorite guitar player, so I couldn't say no."
The trio wasted no time writing music. Their debut album, Alpinisms—largely produced by Curtis—was more of an opportunity for the band to feel each other out. But the sometimes overly layered songs that it yielded showcased a band with enormous potential. For their follow-up, the members of School Of Seven Bells spent the following two years touring, recording, and zeroing in on precisely what they wanted on their sophomore album—and it seems their hard work has paid off. The July-released Disconnect From Desire showcases some of the best songs the band has written. The My Bloody Valentine-esque hook of lead single "Windstorm" conjures an image of exactly that—a scorching whirlwind that refuses to leave the brain. And the album's deliberate sound comes from a band that is confident in its ability and excited about what the future holds—even if that future was never what its members initially had in mind.
"It's a career thing," says Curtis, for whom the band's upcoming Denton show will serve as something of a homecoming. "I've already got albums three, four, and five in my mind."