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ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT

That Which Scars, Glows:

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Glow in the Dark Scars
Also playing: D&D Sluggers, Ponchos
December 11th; doors at 9 p.m.
Soapbox Laundro-Lounge,
255 N. Front Street
Tickets $3

SCARRED FOR LIFE: Purchase one of three GIDS releases on Bandcamp.com, including (l. to r.) ‘Without a Flame,’ ‘A Christmas EP’ and ‘Scabs and Sores.’

Fred Champion’s downtown studio is teeming with couches, buckets strategically strewn between them to swallow the drippings from a leaky ceiling. In the corner, a stage is fully set as if awaiting a party: instruments ready for play, microphones in place, the walls coated with flashy streamers.

“Have a seat,” Champion offers. He motions to the sea of sofas, and we indecisively look about, finally and somewhat awkwardly selecting the couch nearest to us. Over the last decade, the room has served as a movie theatre, a recording studio and a music venue, hosting acts as prominent as My Morning Jacket and Bright Eyes. It is here that Champion records and rehearses his own band, Glow in the Dark Scars, an indie rock group comprised of Champion and a revolving lineup of his musically-inclined friends.

On December 11th Glow in the Dark Scars will take the Soapbox Laundro-Lounge stage with local acts D&D Sluggers and Ponchos. It will be the first show they’ve played since the debut of three digital albums, released in November on the website Bandcamp.com. Champion chose the site after local singer-songwriter Bibis Ellison used it for her November release, “Demo,” which Champion recorded in his studio.

“I checked [the site] out,” he says, “and it inspired me to gather up all my recordings. That’s what I like about Bandcamp—it’s there and it’s organized. I organized it in a way that made me happy. I deleted my MySpace account.”

Champion split the extensive catalog of Glow in the Dark Scars’ material—gradually growing since the band’s inception in 2001—into three albums: “A Christmas EP,” an album of “scraps” and demos called “Scabs and Sores,” and “Without a Flame,” which of the three is what Champion considers an actual album. “I’ve never officially released anything,” he says, “but I took what I thought were the better recordings and put them on the ‘Without a Flame’ record. I’ve had recordings for that particular record for a while, but I’ve never actually made the CD. There’s been articles written about a CD coming out, but it never comes out.”

The album winds through Champion’s intimately personal and direct (sometimes uncomfortably direct) songwriting, opening with “Little Songs,” which, according to Champion, was “seriously written for a unicorn to sing.” The ballad exemplifies the voice of failed love and social ineptitude that unifies the record: “Let’s not waste anytime / keep drinking your beer / we’ll get along just fine / when I disappear.”

“[The songs come] from whatever’s going on in my personal life,” he reveals. “I’ve written a few songs where I will put myself in another person’s perspective—if I have a friend that’s going through a difficult time, I will write a song that I think they would write, and I just replace ‘you’ with ‘I.’ Some people can listen to any song, and they’re just gonna put their own perspective on it.”

None of the songs ever really arrive at a happy ending. Yet, Champion narrates a constant acknowledgement that one could exist, which creates a strange optimism that is amplified by the playfulness of his melodies.

“There are definitely certain themes,” he explains. “It never even clicked with me about the band name, ‘Glow in the Dark Scars,’ but all of them are about some kind of loss or heartbreak, but they also have hope in them, some how, some way. I don’t know how, but it happens.”

On the Matt-Foley-esque “Staying Up Late,” whose speaker lives in a van down by the river, Champion voices the hopes of a loner, singing, “but I’m gonna try / just a little harder / read me some books / maybe make myself smarter / and next time I just might win.” Champion’s high vocals often wave against the ceiling of his range, bouncing catchy melodies through simple, carefree harmonies. Apart from the bluntness, it’s all very poppy—and very tempting to dance to.

Glow in the Dark Scars has slimmed down to a three piece, featuring Kevin Moran on drums, Edge of Urge’s Jessie Williams on keys and vocals, and Champion on vocals and playing guitar. “I wanna play with some more people,” he states, “but I’m set in my ways for getting along with people and playing with bands. Some people just don’t mesh well. I’ve had people come in and you practice with them, and it seems great, but for whatever reason, it just doesn’t work out.

“Me, Kevin and Jesse, we mesh well because we’re on the same page as far as the things we like outside of the band,” Champion continues, “and our personalities are not overbearing or draining of each other. Some people are just draining.”

Champion has been heavily involved with the Wilmington music community since he moved here in 1995, helping open up the now-astray CD Alley, purchasing it and running it until its closure in January 2010.

Champion admits that “working at CD Alley, allowed [him] to do what [he] likes: Seek out and listen to good music, and turn people on to good music.”

Rationally, Champion’s love for introducing music to others has led him to play the role of promoter. He’s acquired the presence of Cat Power, Jessy Carolina and the Hot Mess, Benji Hughes and Herman Dune to Port City music lovers. His latest project is compiling a compilation of covers of his own songs. The album, tentatively titled “Phosphorescent Knife Wounds Make Glow in the Dark Scars,” features interpretations of Champion’s music by over a dozen musicians—some more notable, some simply friends. It may or may not be released in early January.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. maremare

    December 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Have a great show Fred.
    Merry Holidays.
    Maremare

  2. maremare

    December 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Have a great show Fred.
    Merry Holidays.
    Maremare

  3. maremare

    December 9, 2010 at 11:37 pm

    Have a great show Fred.
    Merry Holidays.
    Maremare

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