Justin Beatty and Justin Lutz began playing together in the band Mellow Tiger.
"We played places like the Bullfrog, B21, Jeremiah's and opened for the group Cinematic Underground. Mellow Tiger's sound was all over the place and we often switched up instruments on stage during shows," bassist Lutz said.
"While they were playing in Mellow Tiger, I was in the group Infinite Bliss," guitarist Alex Callenberger said.
AMIRA CHTOUROU/Sun-Gazette Correspondent
Alex Callenberger, Justin Beatty and Justin Lutz of the Antique Babies are seen. The group will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Synergy, 416 W.?Third St.
The two groups started playing gigs together at the Laundromat on Washington Boulevard.
"Yeah, that was interesting," lead singer-guitarist Beatty said. "We'd set up and play in the lounge area."
"People hated us," Callenberger said. "They'd be like, 'What the heck are you doing here playing music?' "
Although they were all friends, it took a couple of years for them to play together.
"Justin B. and I were friends for a while," Callenberger said. "I don't know what happened. I think we decided to get together and play acoustic. It was the first time we ever played together. It clicked right away. I remember him saying to me after we played, 'I never knew you could play guitar like that.' "
"That's exactly what I said," Beatty said. "The thing with this band is that we don't use any FX or anything. From the start, we wanted the music and what we were doing to carry it. I heard him play and he had like a suitcase full of FX - he used his bow a lot too because Infinite Bliss, being a duo, he did a lot of textural playing with the guitar to fill out the sound. I never knew what kind of ear he had for music and what a melodic player he was.
"Then the first time we played, it was on the deck outside of Alex's apartment," Beatty added. "His playing blew my mind. Even now - I told him this today - of all the bands that I listen to. I can't think of a guitarist that I prefer to him."
Once the duo starting playing together, they added a drummer, Beatty's brother-in-law, Tyson Buttorff, and tried coming up with a name for this new group.
"When we started, we had Tyson, who had never played drums before - he was incredible and wrote these crazy drumbeats," said Callenberger. "During that time, we were trying to come up with a name and the one we liked was Saffron Seed."
"I started doing research on Saffron and found out some interesting things about it," Beatty said. "It's an herb but it's a holy herb. Like the name Mellow Tiger - sometimes we were mellow and sometimes we were tiger. I wanted something fitting, because my music is very dynamic and these guys are very dynamic."
The name of the band eventually chosen came from Beatty's wife.
"Our name made it so hard for me to name my band," said Callenberger. "I'd be sitting at home thinking, 'How can I come up with a band name better than The Antique Babies?'
In those early days, as a trio, Callenberger was playing bass as well as synth and guitar while Beatty played either keyboard or guitar. Callenberger moved to guitar when Lutz later joined the band on bass. The drummer's chair is now filled by Mike Hudson who replaced Buttorff after he left the group to pursue other interests.
"When Tyson was in the band, we'd play live at least once a month at the Bullfrog or Kimball's," Lutz said. "Then we cut down to about once every three months and then six months. But now we have four shows coming up."
"Alex was kind of instrumental in getting us focused again," Beatty said. "We'd been talking about recording for a while. We recorded in Mick John's living room. Alex and Mick started setting everything up the day before; we recorded on a Wednesday and they started working on things Tuesday."
This EP was the first Antique Babies release.
"The quality is awesome but people don't do it this style anymore," Callenberger said. "We basically miked everything and recorded it in two channels, so we panned everything in their direct spots. My guitar was only on the right and Justin's was only on the left. [The] Bass was in the middle and it all bleeds over a bit because we recorded everything live - only in stereo - which is really not done. We had to get it right and we did."
Recently, the group convened to record again - this time at Richard Rupert's Green Valley Studio in Hughesville.
"We're recording," Beatty said. "We have Saturday and Sunday lined up. We are going to record two CDs. A lot of the songs are ready to go. There are a couple I want to tweak a little bit. There's one really long song with a lot of parts we're working out and other songs that have kind of fallen by the wayside."
"Our plans are to record the album and then put it online for download and maybe do a small batch of CDs," Callenberger said. "We don't have the money to buy a thousand CDs. If we keep it at this rate we can sell out again because we've sold out of CDs before. A lot of this is documentation for ourselves because we love the music so much."
The Antique Babies will perform at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Synergy, 416 W. Third St., with Clouds Make Sounds, Moxie & Rebel and Amplifiers.
The cover charge will be $7 and the show will be hosted by WXPI-FM?88.5 for broadcast Saturday.