Former Love Knife guitarist Phillip Zimmerle has swerved again. A Baton Rouge native with a creative writing degree from L.S.U., Zimmerle has recently been working with his drummer and wife Mary Beth Zimmerle in a new duo called Black Lodge. But Friday night at Khon's, Zimmerle will fulfill a dream he's had since high school when he first began writing songs: playing acoustic versions of his songs accompanied by a cello.
Zimmerle will be joined by cellist Geneva Gordon. A UH art school graduate, Gordon is a former Rockets dancer as well as longtime bartender at Under the Volcano. This will be her first gig in some time.
"I've had cello in my head for this material since I started writing it at 18," says Zimmerle, "but I've never known any cello players. Then I met Geneva through my wife, who worked with her. So when I started working on this stuff again, I remembered Geneva played cello, so I asked her and she was into it."
While Zimmerle, who has been playing guitar since he was ten, hasn't been playing out acoustically in a while, he and his wife formed the core of Love Knife, who have been part of the indie scene the past couple of years.
"Love Knife was great but we felt we had done all that we could with it. We started out rooted in more straightforward punk and post-punk, mostly inspired by some of the stuff going on in the mid-'80s through the early '90s, like Husker Du, Black Flag, Dinosaur Jr., and Mission of Burma," Zimmerle explains, "Our later material started incorporating more technical elements in it, like odd-timed riffs and more pronounced dissonance.
"But as we were working on more and more new material, it just wasn't really going anywhere, and we weren't really feeling it, so we decided to call it quits."
The couple recently performed their first gig as Black Lodge, a guitar-drums duo.
"Black Lodge is based largely in improvisation," Zimmerle explains. "We write the structures together and those basic foundation riffs and progressions stay the same, but we play the songs differently every time. There are a lot of noise elements too, using loops and pedals to shape the color of the sound, while Mary Beth's drumming is very driving and relentless."
Zimmerle, who says he sometimes classifies his music as "indie or alt-country if someone just has to have a label or some idea of what my solo stuff sounds like," played baritone saxophone in high school, and also learned to play drums and bass in his spare time. Meanwhile his father would teach him how to play songs by hippie bands like Credence Clearwater Revival or the Byrds.
"I started trying to write songs in high school," Zimmerle recalls, "and with this acoustic thing I'm doing I've actually gone back to revisit two songs I wrote very early on. I guess one of the best things about Love Knife breaking up is that it's freed up time to focus on things that I've been wanting to do for a while."
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Zimmerle also started playing in bands in high school in Baton Rouge.
"There was a great community of musicians in my high school, and a bunch of us helped each other when it came to learning theory or trying out new things," he says. "That led to me being in a bunch of bands growing up, most of them for not very long," he says. "The two I was part of longest and that had the most working success were ska bands. Stanley's Car was my high-school ska/punk band, and I was in the Stellaphonics, a rocksteady/ska band in college."
Zimmerle notes he has finally gotten a home recording set up, but so far there's very little out there with Phillip Zimmerle on it.
"I seem to have had an unfortunate curse to never be in a group that could finish a full recording," he says. "There were plenty of demos made and maybe a handful of EPs between the two ska bands and my solo material, but to my knowledge none of those are accessible anymore. I probably have copies in the boxes in the closet somewhere, but I'm focusing on recording new stuff, not revisiting old demos, etc."
"I'm also doing live solo electric guitar improvisation under the name Mandroid, which is comprised of me doing 100 percent improvised music on the spot," he says. "I've only done one performance with that, but it was fun and it seemed to go well."
As for his musical future aside from releasing a solo album in 2015, Zimmerle isn't sure what's going to come over the horizon next.
"We'll see what happens with this first gig, but for right now I don't have any plans to expand outside of the acoustic guitar/cello format. But I'm not opposed to putting together a full band at some point."
Phillip Alan Zimmerle performs 9 p.m. Friday at Khon's Wine Bar, 2808 Milam, No cover.
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