Innovation and collaboration seem to be the two critical themes for Seattle indie band The Directory.
“We’re trying to be uniquely creative but still palatable for people,” said lead singer Caleb Buse. “We’re trying to create songs that people could enjoy just from hearing it for the first time, while also bringing something new to the table hopefully, though that’s easier said than done.”
The Directory was formed when frontman Caleb Buse was “getting frustrated” that the musicians he would play with lacked similar motivation to be productive and decided to start his own project. After meeting guitarist Tyler Cutforth and a drummer who Buse thought was “really great” but has since moved to Korea to teach English (the current drummer for the band is Dan Dartnall), The Directory was formed.
“I focus on my thing, and they focus on their thing, and real cool stuff comes out of it,” Buse said. “It’s not like one person dictates the direction… it’s real collaboration.”
Cutforth, as Buse describes him, is “super creative. He thinks outside of the box when it comes to guitar melodies,” while Dartnall, who Buse calls “a really great poet,” has collaborated with Buse on lyrics for the band’s three newest songs, which they debuted on their recent trip down the coast and played last night at the CoHo. Buse himself lays down the foundation for the band, with piano and vocals.
The Directory decided to come to the CoHo after Buse spoke with friend Stephanie Werner ’11, who recommended the venue. Having played at the Hotel Café in Los Angeles, a hot spot for gigs, The Directory was excited to check out Stanford’s campus; the band has played gigs mostly in their hometown of Seattle. Buse describes the Seattle music scene as “burgeoning.”
“In the last half a year, things have started coming together — there’s a great music scene in Seattle right now. Nationally, there’s some really cool acts coming out like Fleet Foxes and The Head and the Heart,” Buse said. “It’s really inspiring to see all these really great bands coming out of Seattle, and it’s been really good to connect with some of them — it makes you want to get out and play and write new songs.”
The Directory’s music has been compared several times to Radiohead’s and, like Radiohead, the band offers their fans the opportunity to pick their price when purchasing their latest album “Defining Waves.” Buse sees the decision to sell music this way as progressive, and a smart move for a band as small as The Directory.
“We just want to get our music out to as many people as possible,” Buse said. “Giving away your music is almost like advertising. You give it out, people are going to copy it, give it to their friends — we might as well get the ball rolling.”
This forward-thinking attitude toward the Internet is reflective of the newest wave of indie bands, who turn to the Web for fans and distribution.
“The website’s been great because we can track [the people] who’re accessing our site from around the world. It tags where they are geographically — people from all over — Europe, China, New York,” Buse said. “It’s just surprising to see how we’re able to reach out to people through the website. The Internet has drastically altered the industry.”
The band was excited to play at Stanford last evening, collaborating on our own CoHo stage. “That’s what’s really fun about music — you can get so much more creative material [through collaboration] rather than having someone do it all themselves,” said Buse, “The sum is greater than all the parts.” And indeed it was.