[NEW DISCO] For a band that has released only one 12-inch single, the sizzling Oh...You Bad EP, Ancient Heat does not lack fans in its hometown of Portland.
"I can't really say how it happened," says the band's leader and songwriter, Brendan Grubb, as he swirls a glass of whiskey at Fremont Ridge Inn. "We've played to huge audiences out of nowhere.â
Portland music fans were apparently hungry for a high-octane funk-disco group that features an abundance of percussion, the electric pulse of modular synthesizers and a trio of sultry female singers.
In the two years Ancient Heat has been on the scene, the young band has attracted hundreds of groove-hungry fans and been part of some remarkable experiences, including a raved-about set at the third anniversary of Manny Reyes' monthly Supernature party, and being picked as the backing band for post-punk pioneer James Chance when he played East End in June.
For every step forward the band has taken, though, an equal or greater number of steps backward has resulted. As great as the East End show was, the group had to put its own material aside for three months to rehearse Chance's 1970s and '80s material. And there's been the frustration of trying to keep a solid lineup in place.
"We lost our initial drummer, then a guitarist, a singer. A percussion player had to move," Grubb says. "Every time we lose somebody, it throws us for a loop and takes us a couple of months to readjust.â
It's been a lot to overcome for a band that plays live at least once a month and insists on having either a new original song or a new cover locked in for every performance.
Frustrations aside, Ancient Heat is looking forward to 2013. The hope is that by the beginning of the year, the band's first full-length—currently being recorded at Revolver Studios in Southeast Portland—will be available, and Ancient Heat will have settled all of its membership issues. Just don't expect the band to hit the road any time soon.
"I've already toured a bunch in my time," Grubb says. "I don't feel like I need to do that again. The music speaks for itself, and I can get it out there in other ways. Things seem to be happening naturally, and I have no problem allowing that process to continue."
SEE IT: Ancient Heat plays Rotture, 315 SE 3rd Ave., with Coronation, Foreign Orange and DJ Broken Window, on Friday, Nov. 23. 9 pm. $5. 21+.