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"I'm a big fan of the idea that too many options is not a good thing," he says. "I think the best way to be as creative as you can is to limit your options. So by going and using a TASCAM cassette multitrack recorder, you instantly paint yourself into this corner where you have to figure out how to make the least amount of shit as interesting as possible."
Drum machines and cassettes would help develop his aesthetic, but Wehling's use of the vintage technologies came out of necessity: "I don't have a lot of money for fancy microphones or software, and I can't play drums very well at all." And all the cavernous echoes mentioned by name in Forests of Reverb and its predecessors Reverbs of My Mind and Galaxy Reverb? It's all part of a grand concept reverberating in the recesses of Wehling's brain.
"The idea came from imagining that all recorded sounds ceased to exist from our culture," Wehling explains of his hippie sci-fi back-story. "And the only sounds that still existed were the sound waves from music that had been made in the past that were traveling through outer space. So musicians became these people who were heading out into the universe to retrieve the reverberations of these sounds because they had become as valuable as oil or gold, and the only way you can experience music is to go out and catch it. Maybe at that point music would be something people needed to survive."
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Once the astronaut musician in Wehling's Reverb saga leaves Earth's atmosphere, he begins to realize he is on a one-way trip, leaving his life — and his relationships — behind in pursuit of music. "You can probably draw the lines from all that, right?" Wehling says, laughing. "There is definitely an autobiographical theme through this science-fiction narrative. And I think the drum machines are kind of supposed to be an '80s interpretation of what the future sounds like."
Wehling's immediate future sounds much like his EPs amplified for the stage. For his return to live performance, he recruited keyboardist Chris Stevenson and his former Messy Jiverson bandmate, bassist Gavin Duffy. The trio makes its debut on Friday with local minimalist electro-drone act Ou Où, which is also releasing its new album.
After a year plagued with tragedy, Mikey Wehling is optimistic about his next phase. "I couldn't be more stoked," he says. "It was good to take a break, but I've been playing in bars and clubs since I was fifteen. It's what I do. I can't wait to get back."