Bassist Eric Axelson and drummer Joe Easley have been holding down steady yet peculiar rhythms together for almost 30 years, ever since Easley joined Axelson in Washington, DC’s legendary Dismemberment Plan in the mid-1990s. The Plan played many shows in those days with the Vehicle Birth, a group from nearby Fairfax that counted guitarist Leigh Thompson as a member. In 2006, after the D-Plan and Vehicle Birth had both broken up, Axelson and Easley became bandmates with Thompson in Statehood, a group led by the late Clark Sabine. After Sabine’s death from cancer in 2009, the remaining members of Statehood (a fantastic name for a band from DC) decided it felt too weird to keep playing together. Axelson and Easley reunited with the Dismemberment Plan for some shows and an album in the early 2010s on some weekend warrior shit. Life carried on.
That’s where Milliseconds enter the picture. In 2014, Easley, a NASA scientist by trade, discovered software that allowed for remote band practices, sort of like a high-level version of Zoom for musicians. He emailed some friends asking if anyone was down to collaborate long-distance. Axelson (now based in Richmond) and Thompson (Philadelphia) were interested, and suddenly they had a new band. The software inspired the band name; as they wrote on Instagram earlier this year, “It all comes down to how many milliseconds of latency you have in the process. Too many milliseconds of latency and it’ll make your head spin.”
Eventually Axelson, who had never been much of a singer, got up the nerve to write some lyrics and vocal melodies for the songs they’d been writing together. After a rigorous learning process that involved hiring a vocal coach, he took on the role of lead singer in addition to his usual low-end duties. On Milliseconds’ debut album So This Is How It Happens, he holds his own.
Oh, right, the album: It’s coming out in October on Spartan Records, it was produced by old friend J. Robbins, and you can hear lead single “Time And Distance” right now. Axelson shared this statement on the track:
I got off social media after the 2016 election because everything got so loud. When I eased back online years later, I saw that old friends had gotten married, had kids, lost loved ones. It made me miss when we all lived in DC and saw each other on the regular; you’d never been that out of the loop, or that removed from folks you loved. It also made me hate how reliant on social media I was to know what friends were going through.
01 “Every Day Is Decided”
02 “Time And Distance”
04 “No Peaches”
05 “Killed By Convenience”
06 “Words Like Sparrows”
07 “Wake Me When It’s Over”
08 “I’m Trying”
09 “Lost And Found”
11 “So This Is How It Happens”
12 “We’ll Never Know”
So This Is How It Happens is out 10/13 on Spartan. Pre-order it here.