Path Less traveled 

A Missoula jam band sets a new course for electronica

Of course you’re wondering. We’ve all been wondering: How does Ryan Burnett, former guitarist for Abendego, go from playing in one of Missoula’s ultra-hippiest jam bands to embracing the brave new world of electronic music in Signal Path? Well, it all started one summer afternoon in 2000, when Abendego was making the “Green Circle Tour” of the western United States in the big purple bus...

“When we played the High Sierra Music Festival,” Burnett told the Independent last week. “That’s when I realized that every single band there was doing the exact same thing. Which was like revamping everything that’s been done for the past 20 years. Which was like playing noodle-rock jam music, you know? And that kind of disgusted me and made me decide something new had to happen musically. That was pretty much it, right there.”

“Matt felt the same way,” Burnett says, referring to his former Abendego bandmate Matt Jones. “It just made me want to change what we were doing. When you go out there and you realize that the demand is low and the supply is running over, and you’re part of that overflow of supply, you realize that something new has to happen. We kind of started to get into stuff like that with Abendego. It didn’t really have much to do with why we broke up. That was just kind of because of other things. But I think if we would have stayed together, we would have started to venture in that direction.”

Abendego folded in the fall of 2000. Last summer Burnett and Jones invested in some equipment and set about establishing Signal Path as an electronic music duo. There was only one problem: They didn’t know the first thing about it.

“At that point,” Burnett confesses, “I really did not know anything about electronic music. I’d never been to a rave or anything, but it was just one of those things where I began to realize, you know, that Deadheads are like 50 now and the whole scene is happening underground. I had to figure out what was happening. I went over to see Chris [Henry] at Ear Candy, which was the only place that I knew had underground music, and he started hooking me up with different artists to listen to. I really didn’t like it at first, but once I started hearing it, you know...”

Signal Path became a four-piece last month, with Maximilian Kast and drummers Ben Griffin and Damon Metzner joining and Jones departing. The style, says Burnett, is more about keeping it organic and recapturing certain aspects of electronica for real drums and bass than it is about heavy reliance on computerized beats and so on—which shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to fans of Abendego.

Signal Path play Friday, April 19 at the Underground Lounge, 10:30 PM until the wee hours. Cover TBA.

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