A deep probe of Nomad Planets [video by Rod J. Eckrich]


Sound Check No. 3

For me, one of the best things about doing this website has been the opportunity to meet the truly interesting and truly committed people in the new world I find myself in. Who's in it for real? Who’s in it for the long haul? From the moment I met the guys in Nomad Planets, I knew they were the real thing.

Mark Mybeck (vocals and guitar), Phil Rapchak (bass), John Carpenter (guitar, vocals), and Drew Enselman (drums) first started gathering at Carpenter’s Thunderclap Recording Studio in Hammond on Tuesday nights about 10 years ago. Despite the sometimes exhausting demands of "real" life, the four friends have stayed committed to their Tuesday nights. Why?

"We do it because we love to, and I can't imagine not,” Mybeck said. “And that’s the bottom line regardless of how far it goes or doesn't or whatever. We still enjoy playing music with one another."

And in the process the four rock 'n' roll lifers have crafted some damn fine rock 'n' roll. Their most recent CD, 2010's “You're Never Lost Until You Panic” boasts expertly crafted yet quirky and unpredictable songs that put an emphasis on substance over style. Musically they manage to wrangle influences ranging from XTC, Richard Thompson and Howe Gelb to the Monkees, Kiss and even Buddy Rich, to form a sound that's all their own. How? Chalk it up to experience, an undervalued asset in the world of rock music.

Carpenter has been recording bands at Thunderclap for 22 years—his success a testament to his ear and knowledge. His work goes well beyond the rock genre, twiddling knobs for rappers and gospel singers, classical artists and jazz bands. It's a dedication to craft that's made him the go-to-guy in The Region for recording.

That reputation (and the suggestion of a friend) led Mybeck and Rapchak to Carpenter's door to record “The Indestructible Drop” in 1998-99. The two friends already had been playing together for 10 years when they met John, but they knew they found a musical soulmate. Enselman joined the club in 2002, and the die was cast.

Together, they have an undeniable chemistry forged on those Tuesday nights in John's basement studio.

“I think we bring out the best in one another. We like each other. We genuinely like each other. We have fun together. We share the same relative sense of humor,” Mybeck said. “For our age there's always the tingle of hope back there that something will catch on. It's a real fine line between understanding what we can and can't do and what we are capable of with time.”

While their goals may be modest—Rapchak acknowledges that the band might be better served recording three or four songs at a time, rather than pushing for the traditional full-length LP—Nomad Planets possess a wisdom that comes with experience. As Carpenter puts it, "Mortality is right there in my face. We don't know how long that we will be fortunate enough to do this. We just want to continue doing what we're doing, and we'd like to do more of it."

Maybe that isn't as sexy as saying you'd rather “burn out than fade away,” but I think I know who I'll go to when I need perspective on music and my future, and it ain't Mr. Townsend.

Nomad Planets will be playing at Beer Geeks (3030 45th Street, Highland, IN 46322) on Saturday night, March 31st at 10:00 PM.