The Origin of Boolean Knife

In February of 2015, I recorded 10 songs as part of the “RPM Challenge”, an internet contest of sorts. The first 7 songs were released a few months later as my Accidents and Melodies album, and the last three I saved to release later once I got a band together to play live shows. I played under my own name back in 2009 with Tim Koelling (guitar), Mike Koelling (bass), and Nick Kokonas (drums). We were together for a little over a year and we were able to play about 10 of my songs. We disbanded when Tim left to Korea to teach English. Back then, we were playing stripped down versions of my studio recordings in a straight-forward alternative rock kind of format. It was great fun to be playing out, but I didn’t feel that we were really capturing the essence of the songs. I vowed that if I were ever to play out again, that the music would be more like the production on the albums, with synths, drum loops, and other sonic odds and ends.

In March of 2015 I spoke with Mike and Tim. They were interested in getting something together again, but we needed a drummer and a spot to rehearse. Mike suggested that the drummer of his other band (U2 Tribute “Without U2“) might be interested. I went to see them play that month at Atlantic Bar & Grill. I was very impressed by drummer Jeff Kropp, and equally excited that he was used to playing along with a click (and backing tracks) which would be necessary to realize the thick production quality I was talking about earlier. I gave Jeff a thumbdrive of my material and he got back to me a few days later expressing interest. The four of us had our first rehearsal a couple months later at the end of May.  I originally had planned to play under my own name again, and let the guys decide what the backing band would be called. Jeff said that he preferred that I come up with a band name instead because it felt more ‘like a gang’ (in a good way). At first I wasn’t thrilled with that idea, but shortly after did a 180 and now can’t imagine it any other way.

Over the next few weeks I scribbled scores of band names in my notebook. One of the songs I had recorded earlier in the year was called Boolean Knife. I really liked the concept behind it (which is a story for a future blog post), so I changed the name of that song to The Visitor, and Boolean Knife became the name of the band. Our first time playing as a group in front of people was at an open jam at Carols on Clark in August of 2015 after a few months of rehearsals.

Tim Koelling, WS, Mike Koelling, Jeff Kropp (at Carols)

We played our first official show at Lizards that September, and have since done gigs once every couple of months. In February of 2016, we released the Astrid and the Killer Pengiun EP, which received some great reviews and a little bit of airplay (CHIRP Radio, The Fox 103.9, Que4.org).

Later that year, we parted with Tim due to scheduling reasons (he was leaving for Asia again and also plays sax for several other groups) but he’s still an honored satellite member, and plays tenor on our most recent single Dogstar, which was released earlier this month.

That brings us to this weekend. Boolean Knife is circling back to play our home turf at Lizards Liquid Lounge (and are lucky enough to have Tim sitting in on sax with us) this Friday at 9pm, with an opening acoustic set from Chicago open-mic man about town, Chris Chickenwing Quigley. For more info about the show check out the Facebook Event.

I’d like to wrap by extending a big thanks to Mike, Jeff, and Tim for continually helping to get my music out of my headphones and into the world. I’d also like to thank all my amazing friends who have made an effort to come out to shows and support my art.