The return of Rebreather will include new material

By John Benson

After a year off, local band Rebreather is, well, breathing again.

“We’ve all been working a lot and dealing with family stuff, so we sort of took a break,” said vocalist-guitarist Barley Rantilla, a Cortland resident. “Finally, we were all kind of tired of not playing. It’s something we love to do. We also love to write and record, so we started that machine all up again and played our first show a couple of weekends ago in Columbus at a festival called The Dude Locker Fest. It was a blast.”

The band – Rantilla, Chad Fondak (bass) and Steve Gardner (drums) – is hoping the momentum from that blast carries over to its return to Youngstown on Friday at Cedars, where it hopes to debut new material as well as play tunes from its vast catalog. Speaking of which, Rantilla said in the next few months the goal is to put roughly a handful of releases on iTunes.

This includes the group’s 2008 effort “Slow Dance,” which was never released due to the fact the band was dropped from its independent record label. Up next for Rebreather is a new album that will continue the outfit’s sludgy, slow and ambient sound. Rantilla said the new tunes, which are untitled and will get played at Cedars, will be more dynamic.

“It’s heavy rock ’n’ roll pretty much,” Rantilla said. “It’s very loud.”

Over the years Rebreather has been compared to the likes of Isis and Mastodon. In fact, the threesome actually opened for the latter. One band that Rantilla said he’s been told his band sounds like is Tool.

“It’s because of the ambience and some of the more dramatic songs we have, but we really don’t sound like that,” Rantilla said. “We’ve sort of developed our own style, and it’s a style that people in this area kind of latch on to because it reminds them of home maybe. We’re totally defined having grown up in this area because of the seasonal change, the darkness and with it being like depressed.

“It’s a different take, a different perspective on how people put their energy into their art. I guess you can’t really help but be a product of what you’re surrounded by, whether you want to be or not. And we’re surrounded by all kinds of good and all kinds of bad.”

Formed over a decade ago, Rebreather has flirted with the idea of making a career out of music. However, as the band members have gotten older, and perhaps wiser, they realize now the group serves a bigger purpose in their lives than pursuing stardom.

“It’s something that’s important to all of us,” Rantilla said. “The main reason we took time off is it gets to be a drag to play a bunch of shows all in a row that don’t count. Like playing Iowa City on a Monday night is kind of ridiculous when you’re a band at our level. Playing for 10 people out of town doesn’t really make a difference. Playing an in-town show on a holiday weekend is going to be a lot more fun.”

He added, “Making it to the big time was never the point. It has nothing to do with us trying to be successful or make money or any crap like that. We want to do what we want and have a good time doing it.”

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