[ONE-MAN BAND] Tyler Keene is searching. Speaking via telephone from outside a wedding reception in his hometown of Saginaw, Mich., he is searching for the words to explain why he recently left his role as co-frontman of And And And to start a solo project, Log Across the Washer.
"It's tough to put into words," he finally says, about exiting the group that WW named Portland's Best New Band of 2011. "I guess there's not a real solid reason."
It had nothing to do with And And And's members, Keene insists; he remains friends with them, and some have even performed live with Log Across the Washer. When he finally nails down a reason, it's an unexpected one: Twin Peaks. Keene says Angelo Badalamenti's "cheesy" yet "heartfelt" score for the television series, in part, inspired him to strike out on his own.
"It sounds like it's not influenced by a lot of stuff around it, and that was a really cool thing to hear," he says of the TV score. "That was sort of the main draw of trying to start something different, a new thing that's more based on your own personal experience than on a full-band collaboration."
Despite the show's influence, the music 30-year-old Keene makes under the Log Across the Washer moniker (the name is also partially derived from Twin Peaks, in roundabout fashion) does not sound like Twin Peaks. But like Badalamenti's score, the songs Keene has self-released through Log Across the Washer's website are the products of a talented and original musical mind. In the general oddness and squawking, woozy guitar of "Keene's Dreams (The Angels Glowing)," one hears echoes of Pavement, and indeed several of the tunes recall golden-era indie rock. But on tracks like "Definitely Not the Ones"—where strange vocal samples cut abruptly through a steady rhythm of ramshackle acoustic guitar and jangling percussion—it's clear the soundscape of these songs is largely Keene's own. Though Log Across the Washer's catalog lurches from rock to folk and even jazz, it coheres in Keene's singular aesthetic and his considerable gift for combining solid songwriting with thoughtful experimentation.
If the music itself isn't evidence enough that Keene's got a creative fire under him, his productivity should be: Since starting Log Across the Washer in July, he has already recorded two self-titled full-lengths; it's not uncommon for him to spend from 3 am to 5 pm in his Beaverton rehearsal space. Right now, Keene is on a break from recording—but not from perceiving, in others' music, the elusive, eternal qualities he's trying to instill in his own. Lately, he's been hearing them in the work of jazz greats Eric Dolphy and John Coltrane.
"The guys are the masters of their instruments—obviously you can't compare yourself to them—but I try to draw influence from them in terms of their passion and creativity," he says. "I can hear the force going through the sound, and I'm like, 'That's what I want to be doing.'"
SEE IT: Log Across the Washer plays Mississippi Studios on Tuesday, Oct. 18, with Houndstooth and Nucular Aminals. 9 pm. Free. 21+.