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“Attached at the Hip” at Steve Wildsmith

Steve Wildsmith

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Senryu: hobnobbing with Arcade Fire, releasing new music

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Judging by the Internet chatter on Twitter, a number of local fans made the trek down to Atlanta on Wednesday night to see the double-bill of indie rock goodness that was Arcade Fire and Spoon.

Doubtless they enjoyed the show. Doubtful, however, did any of them get to hang out with both bands afterward. Except for one man — one Mr. Wil Wright of the Knoxville indie power-pop ensemble known as Senryu.

We’ve written multiple times about Senryu and the apparent bottomless well of talent Wil possesses — most recently in March — but he’s also the recipient of some boundless good fortune. Even he admits that finding himself post-show hanging with three-quarters of Spoon, all of Arcade Fire, his own publicist and Bryan Poole of the indie band Of Montreal.

“The idea was really just to go down and hang out with Eric (Harvey, multi-instrumentalist for Spoon whom Wright met when the two played in the North Carolina indie ensemble Physics of Meaning),” Wright told me today. “He’d gotten in touch with me and said to come on down to Atlanta, and I got to meet (Arcade Fire singer) Win Butler before the show.

“Afterward, though, everybody was excited because ‘The Suburbs’ had just gone No. 1. Everybody was drinking champagne, and Arcade Fire travels with a ping-pong table, so it was very ping-pong-centric. To meet heroes like that, and to meet them on such a big day for them and just get to blend in … it was surreal. I’ll remember it forever.”

Such is the life of the frontman of Senryu, but know this — every accomplishment, every stroke of good fortune has been earned through hard work. Example — on the heels of releasing the full-length “Inkling” in March, the band already has two EPs ready to go. Both will be celebrated on Saturday at a show with Teenage Love13 at The Longbranch Saloon, 1848 Cumberland Ave. (”The Strip”) in Knoxville.

By most standards, Senryu’s output is mind-blowing, especially considering Wright is already working on an album of remixes and B-sides for a fall release. To him, it’s just what he does — his best.

“I experienced and wrote everything in May and early June, then knocked everything out as soon as I got home from California,” Wright said of the creation of the two EPs — “Attached at the Hip” and “Superduperficialworld.” “ I was experiencing a lot of serious, dark examinations of progress, and also having a whole, whole lot of fun — a really insane sort of nobody’s-holding-the-steering-wheel sort of fun.

“I had enough for an album, but because of how different the songs were, I decided to do two albums worth of material split up into two very different camps.”

“Hip,” he said, reflects a tight-knit friendship — the heady invincibility felt by those on the inside and the head-scratching, left-behind feelings by those who are on the outside looking in.

“Inside, it feels like the center of the universe, but outside it can feel very polarizing and annoying,” he said. “I love the juxtaposition, the view from inside and outside of this really crazy, tight-knit group of people. It revolves around a lot of the fun I was having here and in Los Angeles for work. It was just a really, really crazy time.”

Quick aside — Wright was in Los Angeles because a documentary filmmaker he met on tour has embarked on the creation of a documentary about the band. It’s roughly halfway through production, with filming set for Saturday night at the Longbranch, and Wright flew to LA to film some scenes there as well.

“It’s about how we’ve stayed on our grind through the paradigm shift in the music industry, and how nothing has really ever happened for us even though everything has happened,” Wright said. “We’ve done everything we wanted to do – lived out our dreams and aspirations for the band — without ever experiencing any actual market success. That, and it’s focusing on the fact that we have an extremely long catalog.

“Things happen, but they don’t. It never feels like an ascension or descension — it feels like nothing really changes; sometimes in a frustrating way, sometimes in a comforting way. I get to see a lot and do a lot, and I try to accept it as kind of the stuff that happens. I just stay busy, stay focused on what I’m doing and not get caught up in it.

“Anyway, in Los Angeles, he took me around and had me play whatever I wanted to play in these massive, surreal settings and backdrops,” Wright added.

The film has no title yet, but Wright hopes it’ll be completed in early 2011.

Back to the new EPs … “Superduperficial World” is the more thought-provoking of the two, less frenetic energy and more contemplation. If “Attached at the Hip” (and the title track, by the way, is a shot of cocaine — brief, intense and stout enough to drop you to your knees and leave you with your ears ringing, panting and scrambling for more) is the wild night where all manner of craziness unfolds, “World” is the morning after, sitting in the living room with the shades drawn while the first rays of the sun creep through, having yet to find sleep and still digesting everything that just happened.

“It’s kind of like riding on the back of a monster — you can’t do anything about it; you just find yourself looking left, looking right, looking into the past,” Wright said. “It’s about home, about living here. A lot of people living here feel like they can’t escape, and that makes me feel really frustrated because I love it here. They talk about feeling trapped, about feeling stifled by the geography of Knoxville.

“I’ve been so many places, and I would rather be here than anywhere. I feel like this is the place for me, and that’s one of my major frustrations from other people. I don’t think being from Knoxville, Tenn., has stopped me from living my dream out. It’s as interesting as anywhere else and undersaturated.

“The whole thing i just about life direction paranoia and feeling out of control,” he added.

Saturday night, however, the control valves will be twisted all the way open, and the insanity that is Senryu … not to mention Teenage Love13 … will be unleashed, he added. It’s a masquerade party designed to mimic the beginning-of-the-semester mixers that will take place up and down “The Strip” over the next week, when University of Tennessee students come back to town.

“This is an icebreaker where no one meets,” he said with a laugh. ”Everyone will be there and no one will meet, because we’ll all be wearing masks.

“Some things are going to happen at the show that I have to keep secret, though. No one that attends the show will ever forget what goes down on Saturday night.”

FREE MUSIC! Download “Papillon” by Senryu, from the new EP “Attached at the Hip”: right-click here (choose “Save Link As” or “Save Target As”)