Back in March, we received a surprise e-mail from a man named Michael Hutchins. He had seen our ‘100 Great Math Rock Albums You’ve Never Heard‘ article, which paid (deserved) homage to his former band Lynx, the band that kick-started the career of Dave Konopka (Battles). Michael wanted to correct us on a couple of the particulars in the article. We got talking and soon found out that Michael had formed an earlier math rock band that no one knew about: Glans. Moreover, the band recorded an EP that never saw the light of day. This is their story…
Math rock, like most sub-genres of music or sub-cultures in general that exist on the fringe of pop culture, has a very fervent and dedicated fan base. With the development of the internet, and especially the advent of YouTube, Wikipedia, and Bandcamp; it has connected fans of niche and elusive music in a way no one could have anticipated and made it easier than ever before to discover hidden math rock gems of the past that would be otherwise forgotten, if you know where to look and how to get there. Sometimes if one digs hard enough and has a little extra luck you’re able to find holy relics of math rock lore that almost impossible or are impossible to find anywhere online or the physical music world. The latter is the case of Glans, a short-lived math rock duo from Boston, who were the framework for the formation of math rock legends Lynx. If unfamiliar with Lynx, you can read our retrospective of the band and their importance to the late 90’s math rock scene, which most importantly kick-started the career of Dave Konopka of Battles.
There was a rise in experimental and math rock bands in the Boston area starting in the mid 90’s. The underground 90’s math rock scene in Boston is still a period of time that has never gotten its due comparative to their Midwest and West Coast brethren of the same period. Lynx became the most well-known band of that scene that included Pizza, Helms, Challenger, Dagobah, and Glans. Lynx later moved to Chicago to record and release their lone album before breaking up.
Before Lynx came into being, there was Glans. And 20 years after it was recorded we are excited to premiere Glans’ never released EP, the only audio document of the band. At first listen, Glans sounds radically different than many two-piece math rock bands playing today. The songs are fairly short and the arrangements are sharp and to the point with a nod to angular math-rock bands likes Slint, June of 44, and Rodan. The catchiness of Glans lies in their usage of sparseness between the drums and guitar and minimalism that tends to create an almost menacing or brooding sense of climax in many of the songs. While there is a seemingly ever increasing amount of math rock bands today that focused solely on playing as many notes they can at any given time and creating as complex music as they can play without much compositional gusto attached, the freshness in Glans is the tension and release created by the duo not trying to overplay each other and play to what is needed in the song. Lynx feels like an extension and growth of the music that started here by Mike Hutchins and Paul Joyce, and it’s interesting to hear the development of Glans into Lynx through these recordings.
Mike Hutchins, guitarist in both Glans and Lynx, was kind enough to give us the story of the band, why you never heard of Glans before, and how they became Lynx.
“Dave [Konopka], Paul [Joyce] & I all met and became friends at Massachusetts College of Art. I studied Architecture, Dave studied Graphic Design, and Paul studied Painting. The year was 1994-1995. Dale [Connelly] was our next door neighbor. He had moved to Boston from Maine. Dale and I are still close friends. We see each other once every month or 2. We played together a while back and made some amateur recordings but it never got off the ground.”
“I lived in a 3 bedroom apartment at the time with 4 other guys on 72 Calumet Street on Mission Hill near Brigham Circle in Boston. My roommates were Paul Joyce, Fin Moore, Eric Catalano, Scott Buoncristiano, and John McWilliams for a time. Paul volunteered to take the pantry for his room which measured something like 48″ x 84″. He was playing in a number of bands at the time like Challenger, Robots, The Phalen Moore Trio, Dagobah, and soon Lynx. Fin was doing Robots and The Phalen Moore Trio. Eric wasn’t musical at the time. Scott was getting ready to start playing in Pizza with Paul’s brother Justin who is a natural multi-instrumental musical genius like Paul.”
“We wrote all those Glans songs in our apartment with me on my acoustic guitar and Paul playing on his lap with his hands and imagining a hi hat and kick drum. We were in the throes of poverty back then. We never had an official release. We did record those songs with Keith Souza who now runs Machines With Magnets where Battles does all their recording. This is back when he was still living in his parents’ house and he set up a makeshift studio in their basement.”
“The Glans stuff never got released because we weren’t around long enough for it to happen. I wanted to do more than what our 2-piece band could do, so we stopped Glans and I worked on forming Lynx. I had been informally teaching Dave Konopka to play guitar and had asked him if he would be interested in joining what would become Lynx. He said he didn’t think he was good enough. I assured him that he was. We started writing together. Dale was this oddly quiet slightly creepy persona who I would occasionally find drinking a beer on my living room couch. I had heard he played drums but was too afraid of him to broach the subject at first.”
And the rest is history. You can check out Lynx via our ‘100 Great Math Rock Albums‘ article, or our retrospective piece on the band. You can also learn more about the history of math rock (and its mathy predecessors) via our ongoing history series.