55 is a band from Chicago, IL. Mike Nourse (vocals, guitars), Nat Soti (guitars, vocals), Darren Shepherd (bass), and Gabriel Palomo (drums, percussion) have known each other since 1999. Their current discography is a prologue to music that is taking shape as we speak. Diverse styles and influences that are grounded with big hooks, layered instruments and vocals, and driving rhthyms.

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Their self-titled debut EP (2013) and the single “Everybody Knows Me” introduces you to the bands formative roots in 90s indie, post-punk sounds.  “The Sea Song (You)” is a fuzzy meditation on simple music themes. “Decades of Dust” is tightly crafted electronic rock while the newest single “As I Sit” is about capturing the raw creative moments of spontaneous performance.  All these sounds and ideas are in the mix as they currently work on their new album.

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The members of 55 have musical histories that go back to the early 90s. Nat cut his teeth in the Washington, D.C., indie/punk scene of Washington DC with the band Free Range Pilgrim.  Mike (a Canadian) was in the Montreal band Stellar Dwellar. Gabe was a DJ in the thriving 90s Chicago house music scene. Darren came to the US by way for the UK and fronted the band Stroller.

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55 met in 1999, not through music, but art.  Nat and Mike were fellow MFA students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Gabe, who was also a pioneer producer of underground art and music events met Nat and Mike as video artists video mixing at various events. While collaborating on art events they discovered a shared passion for making music. They began playing socially   in Gabe’s loft and Darren was among a group of musician friends who would often stop by to join in. In the first decade of the 200s, there was no “band”,  just free form musical get togethers that would last for hours. Nat and Mike were growing their art practices (co-founding Chicago Art Department).  Gabe produced techno under his labels Zuvuya Recordings and Linear and played drums for Kill Memory Crash and Streets on Fire. Darren and his wife Sophia started the band Bellmundos.

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It wasn’t until 2012, that sporadic jamming became regular and 55 became official. The original 55 lineup consisted of Mike, Nat, Gabe and artist friend Nathan Peck on bass. For their first recording, a self-titled EP, they crafted songs out of musical ideas they had been jamming on for years.  In fact, the idea for the song “Microphone” could be heard on a 10 year-old mini-disc recording from a jam session at Gabe’s loft.  “I like that first EP, but in many ways it was music that was almost 10 years old,” says Nat Soti.  “I wanted to hear what came next.”

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Unfortunately, while working on their follow up EP, 55 went on hiatus. While the EP remains unfinished, two songs from that recording session, “Everybody Knows Me” and “Just One Day” were ultimately released as a single in late 2016. During the hiatus Nat, Mike, and Gabe (along with singer Jessica Andrea) got together in Gabe’s basement studio and recorded the single “Decades of Dust”, introducing a stripped down aesthetic and electronic music production into 55’s sound.

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“Decades” created new momentum and 55 began to play again, this time with old friend, Darren Shepherd joining in on bass (and guitar). It was just like old times. Darren’s contributions were immediately felt on 55’s next recording,  “The Sea Song (You)”. “Sea Song” departed from pop structures in favor of a meditative exploration of simple music themes. Dynamics, complexity, and arcs would come through vocal and instrumental layering.

 

55 are currently working on new music. An important development has been finding a new rehearsal space, which they have turned into a makeshift recording studio. To create new music, 55 is documenting what they have always done, hang out, play, improvise, and experiment. This direction can be heard on 55s most recent release, “As I Sit”, which captures the band performing, spontaneously composing and writing.  Nat has taken on a new role as an engineer and producer. “I’m really interested taking  my approach as a documentary filmmaker and applying it to making music,” says Nat. “Record a ton of shit, edit out the crap and string together the best moments to craft a hopefully compelling narrative.”

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Their hard drives are currently full of  hooky indie rock, sloppy punk rock, minimal electronic slow-jams, psychedelic stoner music, proggy instrumentals, abstract, experimental art rock, and even straight up electronic dance music. The form it will ultimately take is undetermined. Stay tuned.