Friday, July 1
Here's how lead singer Erika Thomas describes the sound of her three-piece band, Little Voice: "We're like an indie-alternative rock-cabaret kind of approach. I try to be the Willy Wonka of music. You have the teacup and then you can drink the contents of the teacup and then you can eat the teacup and that makes it so much better. That analogy sums up what we strive to be."
Mike Rittenhouse, Erika Thomas and Lori Davis of Little Voice
Little Voice, who will be performing a free acoustic show at Strange Brew coffeehouse at 8 p.m. July 1, has been around for five years and recently released their first full-length album, Th13teen.
We'll see if these comments on their sound make any more sense. Drummer Lori Davis: "Eclectic and genreless!"
Thomas: "An accident!"
Guitarist Mike Rittenhouse: "Rock jazz pop opera."
It's all true. A listen through even just a few songs on their album reveals influences from their favorite bands, like Smashing Pumpkins, Duvall and Jets to Brazil, as well as an overall dedication to the alternative sound of the early 1990s, without the bad vibes that have crept into the field since then.
"I'd love to bring alternative music back," Thomas said when I first met the band at the Melody Inn some years back. "And keep it as positive as possible. Music has taken a really negative turn and a negative approach. I think it's important to bring a little bit of hope and happiness into the project."
Between Thomas' background in opera vocals, Davis' studies in Latin jazz and Rittenhouse's overall rock dedication, they each bring a different element to the musical table.
"We love and respect each other immensely, the three of us, and we have a really good friendship," Thomas said. "If the band were to dissolve tomorrow, we would still be really good friends and support each other as we always have."
The band's name is a bit of satire in itself, as Thomas' brash vocals are anything but "little." She also serves as the band's chief songwriter and lyricist, drawing on whatever life experience she happens to be living at the moment to influence her work.
"We've faced a few tragedies in the last year and we've overcome those in our ways," Thomas said. "I think the passing of Lori's mom this past September and the ever-changing events have an effect. We're just accruing responsibilities like house payments and taxes, all those stupid adult things. But I think if anything, all I try to do is steal a moment to write when I can."
The acoustic show Friday is part of an ongoing experiment in a smaller, more intimate sound for the band's live performances.
"The coffee shop thing has been successful for us, and I think it's because we pull out a lot of obscure covers and B-sides that a lot of people don't usually do," Thomas said. "And I think people enjoy that atmosphere that we create."
The show will be the start of a busier time for Little Voice, with their Battle of the Bands appearance July 20 and more shows in August.
"It'll be kind of like the first time Little Voice has come out of the woodwork," Thomas said. "Some people have mentioned we're Indy's best-kept secret. I don't necessarily agree with that; I think we're just a secret. What's up next is going to be more of a softer side, hopefully, as we're still biting into the neck and draining your blood."
No matter what, though, Thomas expects Little Voice to continue being an active presence on the local scene.
"My whole approach has always been, 'I have to do this,'" Thomas said. "If I'm not writing, I'm not happy. I never cared about where it was going to go or who was going to respond to it ... We're not out there to eat up the local scene.
We're not out to conquer anything. We don't want to change the world. We just want to be in it."
For more information: www.littlevoiceband.com.