wsg. Tunde Olaniran, Andre Obin, Millie and Jam
Founders Brewing, Grand Rapids
Sept. 20; 9:30 p.m.
$5; Ages 21+
The electropop duo Alexis out of Grand Rapids has been steadily making a name for itself for the past handful of years. Even back in 2011, the pair landed an appearance on WOOD-TV 8, which did well to give the guys some publicity — just not necessarily in the way that they had hoped.
Apparently, frontman Matt Forbush’s effeminate style was a little much for some of the stuffier viewers, whose insecurities spilled out into Internet comments and caught the band off guard.
“If you’re liberal-minded, you won’t get it,” Forbush said of the criticism. “If I look at more conservative [types], maybe it was somewhat feminine in a David Bowie sort of way. I just think it’s ultra-conservative people looking for something to be offended about. [...] It was pretty rough, because we were like a newbie band and we weren’t expecting that.”
But it wasn’t all bad.
“It was a nice springboard to get us to Detroit,” Forbush said.
Since then, the guys have been performing around their day jobs (Forbush is a mail carrier, while partner in crime Dan Hurst is a music director for a church), including a mini Midwest tour this past spring, and preparing for the release of their next album, Love or Temptation.
“We’ve been working pretty hard on the album since last winter,” said Forbush. “We had some stuff ready to go, but we weren’t rushing to get it done. We really didn’t want to do the Grand Rapids band thing. We’re trying to get some recognition beyond G.R.”
As for the songs themselves, the band made a concerted effort to stick to what they know.
“It’s a really straight-up, 10-song collection of straight-up pop songs,” Forbush said. “That’s what we’re good at. We didn’t do any soundscapes or anything. [...] We’re not tracking a 10-minute song so we can just have this trance-y, psychedelic moment. We definitely wanted to stick to the classic songwriting formula.”
Alexis will be unveiling Love or Temptation at an album release show on Sept. 20, with a hand-picked supporting cast consisting of Tunde Olaniran, Andre Obin and Millie and Jam.
“Tunde is a good friend of ours,” Forbush said of the other acts on the bill. “We’ve been doing a number of events with him over the past couple years. He’s blowing up in Detroit. In a world where rock is so masculinity-driven, it’s fun to have an artist that brings more of the feminine side. Andre is more minimalist stuff. It’s a great fit.”
And they’re bringing this wonderful electro-party to Founders in Grand Rapids.
“Obviously that’s our home,” said Forbush. “I think Founders is a nice fit for us because we can pack that place. I don’t even work there and I feel like I’m part of the family. They kind of give us freedom to do whatever we want. We’re going to pull out a lot of stops.”
After that the guys are hoping to take a little break from church music and mail delivery to head out on tour in support of the new album.
“We’re actually working on that now,” Forbush said. “We try to fit things in where we can. Our last tour was a nice exposure, but we want to do something more east coast or west coast, maybe 10 days or two weeks.” — Dwayne Hoover