Band looks in all directions for inspiration

By John Benson

Sharing art is how The Directionals’ Mark Poe describes his Milwaukee-based band’s live show.

“I guess we’re putting together a series of sounds that may be missing from a lot of rock genres right now,” said Poe, calling from his Wisconsin home. “We’re trying to combine East Coast garage sounds, which are typical of The Ramones to The Strokes, and more West Coast stuff like The Dead Kennedys and super surf stuff like The Ventures. We’re trying to mine those types of sounds and make it into one cohesive package.”

Right now that cohesive package, which has been compared to everything from The Pixies to Nada Surf, is The Directionals’ recently released debut effort, “Shapes and Colors.” The project includes lead single “Serenade of Fire,” which Poe said epitomizes the band’s different sound.

“That’s where everything came together with a crazy, swirling garage rock psychedelic feeling but not so traditional,” Poe said. “Another favorite song of ours is ‘Hero Theme,’ which is a more straight ahead punk rock feeling with some crazy harmony leads thrown in the middle.”

When asked his favorite shape, Poe laughed it was an octagon, which then led to a brief MMA discussion. He said a background in martial arts has served him well. At the very least, The Directionals aren’t a wimpy rock band.

“I hope not,” Poe said. “Not that I want to say we’re like tough guys. But being from Milwaukee means there can be a rough crowd here sometimes.”

So far the band, which formed in late 2011, is gradually gaining momentum both stateside and internationally. The Directionals were featured on a few premier indie music discovery blogs (Indie Rock Cafe) and Internet radio stations (Los Angeles’ New Normal Music and U.K.’s ARA FM radio).

“Absolutely, things are definitely picking up,” Poe said. “We were taking some time off in the spring and went to St. Louis and Minneapolis but we’re definitely trying to put ourselves out there and do whatever we can right now. We have like 40 dates coming this summer and then we’ve got a couple of records coming out in the fall. We have one full length, another full length and a single coming. So it’s pretty exciting to see what’s happening.”

As for that tour, this includes a Midwest run bringing The Directional to Cedars West End in Youngstown Friday.

“I’m really just hoping to connect with some good people and have a great time in Youngstown,” Poe said. “That’s what it’s all about, just getting out there, meeting people and sharing art.”

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