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Laser Background: Paisley-Popping Child’s Play.

September 25, 2013

LaserBackgroundTB2013bText by Kevin Doran. Top images by Timothy Becker. Lower images by G.W. Miller III.

The bouncer at Kung Fu Necktie deliberately checks IDs at the front door for everyone who steps in from the Friday evening rain. But it’s a mystery that Andy Molholt got in so easily. The founder of paisley-pop project Laser Background wears an oversized white tunic that hangs nearly long enough to cover his shorts. Despite his beard, he resembles a child playing dress-up in his parents’ bedroom.

That’s fitting given the ethos he’s crafted for Laser Background and its upcoming full-length, Super Future Montage. He calls the album his life’s work, including songs whose roots date back to five years ago, when he was working with idiosyncratic psych-rock group, The Armchairs.

“The whole point of where I was trying to go conceptually with Laser Background is about childhood and about how weird it is to be a kid,” Molholt says. “I just remember being super confused and having a crazy imaginary world that I was like, ‘This is way more fun anyway.’”

Molholt calls the album, which drops today with a release show at Johnny Brenda’s, a “psychedelic action/adventure album,” incorporating a dreamlike atmosphere that makes heavy reference to falling sleep, waking up, candy, birth and death.

But childhood serves as the backbone for Molholt’s creative outlets, as evidenced by his flowing tunic and the yellow frog backpack he hangs from his mic stand pre-set. This show is the second of back-to-back nights for Molholt, who also performs with long-time friend Brendan Mulvihill in Norwegian Arms.

“Technically, I’m in like four bands right now,” Molholt says, detailing his turns with Ape School and Neighborhood Choir, in addition to fronting Laser Background and working with Norwegian Arms.

Molholt has something of an exchange program going, bringing Ape School’s Michael Johnson to mix and produce Super Future Montage. He also trades bass duties with Neighborhood Choir’s Bennett Daniels, who plays in Laser Background’s live line-up.

Of his collaborators, Mulvihill is the most familiar. Molholt describes their first band, Shampoo Ridiculous, as two friends from performing arts camp being weird in their Hatfield, Pa. yards. Unfortunately, the fruits of Molholt’s youth violin lessons couldn’t carry the band through more than two songs before they folded and formed a real band years later.

“We both understand our roles very well and how we should work together,” Mulvihill says. “It’s nice to have a person who understands your full spectrum of emotions.”

Laser Background

Super Future Montage, though, represents Molholt’s first full-length individual effort. While his live band is well-staffed by friends, the album was written and recorded mostly on his own, with some help from Johnson’s mixing experience.

“It’s really smooth working with Andy,” says Johnson, who also teaches at The University of the Arts. “I don’t go out of my way to change anything. I go out of my way to accentuate what he does.”

Music aside, Molholt does a lot. Beyond splitting music duties in four bands and working double duty at Pizza Brain and Johnny Brenda’s, he’s attempting to promote Super Future Montage via a fleet of homemade LEGO-structured QR codes routed to videos for each the album’s 14 tracks.

This project isn’t new to Molholt, as he successfully crafted his DIY promo toy for display outside Johnny Brenda’s last year. But the scale of this year’s project hopes to add New York, Brooklyn and Baltimore to the mix.

With that much work on his plate, Molholt says it’s been a struggle for him to make time for fun. He uses familiar childhood imagery to illustrate the contrast.

“I use the Ninja Turtles analogy: When I’m not Leonardo, I’m totally Michaelangelo,” he says. “When I’m not trying to do shit, I’m ready to party.”

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