Splitsville is more and more together

October 02, 1997|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,SUN POP MUSIC CRITIC

When Splitsville made its debut, some people looked askance at the band's name. After all, two thirds of Splitsville were Brandt and Matt Huseman, who had just, er, split from their old band, the Baltimore-based quartet the Greenberry Woods. Was the new band name a sly reference to what happened with the old band?

"Honestly, it had nothing to do with the Greenberry Woods at the time," says Brandt, laughing over the phone from a tour stop in Lincoln, Neb. Huseman, it turns out, is forever coming up with band names. "It helps me write songs, sometimes," he says. "I don't know why.

"Actually, the choice [for the band's name] was going to be between Mr. Pink -- remember the character from 'Reservoir Dogs'? -- and Splitsville. But Mr. Pink is a ridiculous name for a band. So we chose Splitsville. It's just a cool-sounding word."

At the time, Splitsville wasn't intended as a full-time band. When the two Husemans began working on the songs that became the first Splitsville album, "Splitsville, U.S.A," they saw it as a way to blow off steam while the Greenberry Woods were between albums.

"There wasn't any real thought as to whether we were going to make this type of album or that type of album," says Huseman. "It was just that I wanted to play the drums, Matt was going to play guitar, and we got our friend Paul to play bass. We just started messing around."

Recorded over three days in a makeshift basement studio, "Splitsville U.S.A." was raw and funny -- perfect for a side project. The three even adopted aliases for the release, with the Husemans billing themselves as Messiah Kari and Johnny Immaculate.

Then things got serious. Neither of the Husemans had been happy with the way things were going in the Greenberry Woods. "A lot of stuff was like pulling teeth in that band," says Brandt. "We were making compromises and not really getting what we wanted." So two weeks after the Greenberry Woods' second album, "Big Money Item," was released, the Woods splintered, and Splitsville turned serious.

A lot has happened since then. In addition to sharpening its sound on the road, the band began writing in earnest, and released its second album, the bright, tuneful "Ultrasound," this summer. "The first [Splitsville] album was recorded fast, and in the basement," he says. "When we went to record the second album, we wanted to record a real album. You know, to make it a step up from the first album without going too far away from the three-piece power pop thing."

Huseman feels that Splitsville is finally coming into its own, musically. "This band has a lot more opportunity to be a lot broader, a lot better musically, and a more adventurous band than the Greenberry Woods," he says.

He also believes the new band will be more successful than the old one was. "The last Greenberry Woods record was recognized well by the press but was often ignored by the buying public," he says. "Now as Splitsville, we have the ability to sell albums when we go out on the road. We definitely turn people's heads."


When: Saturday, Oct. 4 p.m., 9 p.m.

Where: Fletcher's

Tickets: $6

Call: 410-880-8124 for information, 410-481-7328

To hear excerpts from Splitsville's new release, "Ultrasound," call Sundial at (410) 783-1800 and enter the four-digit code 6103. For other local Sundial numbers, see the Sundial directory on Page 2A.

Pub Date: 10/02/97

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