Film School vocalist enjoys performing live

By John Benson

The band is bringing its live show back to Cleveland.

Film School singer Greg Bertens knows what it’s like to be so deep into a band’s album that any subsequent release from the outfit never seems to offer the same magic.

“For me, that is Blonde Redhead’s ‘Misery is a Butterfly,’ which is where I came into the band,” said Bertens, calling from Los Angeles. “It’s amazing, and that’s an album and a sound that I think I’ll always identify with Blonde Redhead. Since then, they’ve released another album [‘23’] and changed styles. So if I came into Blonde Redhead with ‘23,’ I might feel differently about ‘Misery is a Butterfly,’ but that’s not the case.”

Bertens and his indie rock act Film School are experiencing this exact dynamic firsthand from its own audience that remains intoxicated with the band’s 2006 self-titled effort. Even though the album remained underground, it grew a small, cult-like following that wasn’t as smitten by the group’s follow-up effort “Hideout,” which was released last year.

Still, Bertens defends the band’s latest release, pointing out its sound epitomizes the outfit’s future direction.

“I think on ‘Hideout,’ we were kind of trying to bring out some more of the sonic elements and maybe more experimental elements,” Bertens said. “Some of the stuff that maybe was more buried [on the self-titled album], I wanted to bring that out more and to kind of reconnect with some of the bands that influenced me.”

That list includes Flying Saucer Attack, My Bloody Valentine and Swervedriver, which not surprisingly are all cited as influential shoegazing bands. The term shoegazing comes from the late ’80s/early ’90s British music scene where bands created lush sonic walls of sound as their members stood seemingly motionless staring at their effects pedals or the floor while playing their guitars.

It’s a cumbersome tag that Film School has been eschewing since its inception over a decade ago.

“I think the shoegaze thing, that maybe we’re only a shoegaze band, would be the biggest misconception,” Bertens said. “It doesn’t bother me too much. I think it’s pretty natural for people to categorize bands in order to understand where they’re coming from, but in the end, I hope that listeners will identify with how we’re unique and how we’re bringing new elements to the different genres that we might be lumped into.

“So when people come to the show, I think they see we’re like a live energetic rock band with no gazing at shoes going on.”

Film School brings its live show back to Cleveland for a Wednesday show at the Beachland Tavern. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to learn Bertens feels the band’s calling card is its live performance, which he said expands the group’s studio recording into a new realm.

“There’s definitely some longer, more sonic jams, but what I like about being live is how we kind of interpret those songs into a bigger live rock show, which is difficult to do on a recording,” Bertens said. “Like when you’re in a big room and can layer it with washes and reverb and distortion and stuff, there’s just that special experience. The live show is a special experience that can’t quite be replicated on an album.”

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