The Riverfront Times
Wednesday, Sep 15 2004
There are still a handful of months left in 2004, but don't be surprised if this year's best pop song by a St. Louis artist is "Long Division," the opening track on Bagheera's debut album Twelves.An irresistible nugget of romantic perseverance, "Long Division" is an update of the Smiths' "Hand In Glove," with boy-girl vocals taking the place of Morrissey's asexual swoon. The rest of Twelves is solid and impressive, but you'll wear out your CD player's button on "Long Division."
Bagheera is the new project for husband-wife duo Ted Moll and Heather Dallape; the two were formerly in the now-defunct Climber, and Moll still plays drums for the tireless ska outfit MU330 (a band still going strong in its tenth year). Together, the couple writes songs about love, loss, science fiction and old Pac-Man machines, playing a style of tightly melodic indie rock with the couple's simple, effective vocal harmonies. With a style reminiscent of Velocity Girl and Mates of State, Moll and Dallape are on their way to becoming St. Louis' power (pop) couple.
The Riverfront Times: How did Bagheera get started?
Ted Moll: I had been trying to write songs for a long time, and in 1999 I got a four-track, kind of on a whim, and started trying to write songs. With MU330, playing the drums was my thing. With this, I was trying to play guitar and sing, so it was just something totally different. That's where it started, and from there it got into home studio-/computer-based recording.
Just projects to fool around with the studio and see how stuff works?
Ted Moll: It was just experiments with, "What happens if we do this," or "I wonder how this would sound." There wasn't any thought of "Let's start a new band" or anything; it was just something we did together in the apartment late at night.
Heather Dallape: It was totally just for our own pleasure really, and then we made CDs for our friends. And then Mike Park from Asian Man approached at Plea For Peace [a yearly tour in which MU3330 participated] a couple of years ago and said that he would release it if we re-recorded everything. So then there was the daunting task of trying to recreate what we did at three in the morning, just messing around, trying to figure out everything that we did. We actually saved a lot of those tracks and used them on the album. A lot of the recordings on the album are actually five years old.
Ted, how is this a different outlet for you from what you've been doing in the past, playing drums for MU330?
Ted Moll: Playing live and playing with MU330, it's all about the energy and all about the interaction with the crowd. It's a more communal type of aspect. With Bagheera, it's much more personal. Because of the way it started, it wasn't meant for anyone to listen to but us; it was just something that we did. It was a private thing we had and we shared it with some friends and it expanded from that. This is a lot different. With Bagheera, it's definitely more on the intimacy of listening to stuff. It's meant to be listened to with headphones. There's no real conflict [between MU330 and Bagheera] in that sense, because they are two totally different ways that I appreciate music.
How does the songwriting process work? Do you have different concerns as songwriters?
Heather Dallape: It's changing now. Most of the songs I was writing were going to Climber, so most of the songs on the first album were all Ted, and then I'd come in and write for some of them and I wrote basslines on all of them, or I'd come and mess with what he'd already done. Whereas now, we're actually sitting down together and writing a song.
Ted Moll: Now we are starting from scratch together, and I'm actually a lot more excited about the newer stuff. It meshes the best aspects of both of our songwriting [styles]. — Christian Schaeffer