Okay, so if I said I was thinking about a mega-sized rock (choral-symphonic rock, to be exact) band that wore robes, seemed a leetle too happy, and has a slight hint of cultishness, what would you say?
Yes, The Polyphonic Spree! And I bet that without the aid of television, this shiny, more-than-a-band-kind-of-like-a-community group would not have gained the visibility that it has. Tim DeLaughter (I wish I had his last name) is the music director of the group, which was formed in 2000 along with Bryan Wakeland and Mark Pirro. They were asked to make a 30 minute set in order to support the band Grandaddy, and The Polyphonic Spree was born. DeLaughter modeled the concept of the band around his love of Electric Light Orchestra and the choir at his local church. He also believed that 13 people (now 23) on stage in varying outfits would be overwhelming, so he created the idea of robes. From the beginning, the band was a symbol for love, peace, and purity; this plus the whole getup was the cause for the rumors about the group being a secret cult.
Initially, the band was struggling to make ends meet, but in 2003 “Light and Day/Reach for the Sun” was featured in a joint Volkswagen/iPod commercial, NFL tribute to Bill Walsh, and also was invited to be David Bowie’s opening act for his “Reality Tour” in Austin, TX. This jumpstart catapulted The Polyphonic Spree into 2004, where the band made a guest appearance on Scrubs (“My Choosiest Choice of All”) as well as featured on the now-cancelled show Las Vegas (“Silver Star”). It was in the Scrubs episode where I first heard of the group; their performance totally sucked me in. And I totally want to call them up and ask if they need any trumpeteering talent. I am so there.
Sorry about talking about Scrubs again…I just love that show. Anyways, from there, the group moved onwards and upwards, gaining popularity and fans for the most part. Entertainment Weekly, on the other hand, called the album Together We’re Heavy the second worst album of 2004, only behind William Hung (the American Idol guy). Their third album, The Fragile Army, was released in 2007, and the band has been used for various commercials and other events, including the Oscar De La Renta Spring 08 Fashion Show at New York Fashion Week.
Most recently, they have written and recorded the opening sequence for The United States of Tara which premiered January 18th on Showtime. I haven’t watched the show yet, but the fact that Diablo Cody created it intrigues me…and also the fact that it’s about a mother with multiple personality disorder. Sybil is one of my favorite books…but not the movie. The movie I did not enjoy. But that’s for another time and place.