Lunar Event is a band that likes to work with the simplest of elements: a bass line, a scrap of a guitar riff or even a hummed melody line. From there, the two band members modify the parts into compelling electronic music. But they"re not your typical electronica duo; the pop-inspired choruses take them out of that arena.
But the banks of keyboards and computers they bring onstage, and the lack of a human drummer, mean that they"re not your typical rock band, either. Lunar Event straddles the lines: between the underground and the mainstream and between pop and dance music. Onstage, there"s not a drummer to be found, just singer/keyboardist Gwenneth Hermann and guitarist/keyboardist/producer Derek Osgood, but that"s more than enough. The band will make a rare live appearance this Friday at the Melody Inn, along with DJ Shiva and others. Lunar Event began as a solo project of Osgood"s in 1999. Prior to that, he"d been in several industrial groups, most notably the early 1990s project Floodlight. Hermann formerly sang with Luna Clara, an Evansville group. The two met when both were students at the Herron School of Art. They met in the mid-1990s but began performing together a few years ago, after Osgood tried to begin his life again following a divorce and bankruptcy. They see the way they interact as one of the biggest strengths of the group. "We have different jobs and different roles in the band. I do the bass, basically lay the bed of the songs. She fine tunes the songs, adds melody lines and does a lot of finessing," Osgood says. "It"s different with a band like ours, because there"s no jamming," Hermann says. "But with the way the setup is, we can"t free-form jam our songs." A live Lunar Event show is a study in multitasking, with each member taking on various duties. "I"ll play guitar at the beginning of a song, then the piano part comes up, and then I have to adjust volume, so I"m pretty busy onstage," Osgood says. "Gwynneth has a very seductive, almost mesmerizing presence onstage and I"m more of the aggressor." Their setlists look like college calculus exams, full of strange numbers and equations, which are reminders of equipment adjustments the band needs to make between songs. But Lunar Event prides itself on the humanity in its songs. "People often have a stereotype of electronic music as being cold and unemotional," Hermann says. "But when we perform live, I think our music is very warm and emotional. It brings that humanness back." "I don"t even like being called electronic music," Osgood says, "because it"s very much pop music as well. It just happens that some of our sounds are electronic." Inspired by Siouxsie and the Banshees, New Order and 1980s pop, Lunar Event"s music is a combination of influences. "We just write music that is a culmination of things that we enjoy and listen to," Osgood says. "I used to be really bothered by whether I was just spewing out my musical influences or doing something original," Hermann says. "But I don"t worry about that anymore. The music is, of course, coming from where my history is, but I"m coming through in it as well." The more success Lunar Event attains, the more they see detractors emerge. "The people who say, "They don"t do anything; it"s all done by computers," I compare them to the jocks who beat me up in high school. I"m still a musician but it"s different than what other musicians are doing." Perceptions are in the eye of the beholder, of course. Hermann recalls a recent rave gig Lunar Event did with 2 Live Crew. "All the kids called us a goth band," she says. "That kind of surprised me, but their context is totally different. They don"t have a sense of history about their music. But I don"t like labels. They"re so claustrophobic." "We"ve never given ourselves a label," Osgood says. But one observer recently termed them an electroclash band, the sound based on the classic Factory Records sound of the 1980s. Lunar Event was the first group signed to Scarab Records, the local artistic collective. Their debut album has been completed and will be released in a few weeks. Friday"s show was supposed to be a CD release show, but manufacturing delays held that up. Eventually, the two would like to add other members for live shows, but for now are content with the lineup. Future plans include more touring, perhaps internationally, where Lunar Event has already made inroads. Their songs have topped Internet radio charts in different European countries. "Our music is about the everyday struggles of people like us, who are trying to be self-sufficient musicians," Osgood says. "It"s about the tension resolution in everyday life. We"re the soundtrack to it."