On paper, it would seem The Planets Align requires constant, near perfect balance to continue to exist. With the progressive rock act’s members busy with fledging careers in event coordinating, journalism, the automotive industry and even some part-time circus work, as well as upwards of two dozen former and current bands that the guys have contributed to over the years, it would seem the odds are stacked against them.
It must have been written in the stars … that, and it’s more than enough fun for the four to justify making the time to do it.
“We just have a good time, hanging out, drinking a few beers and playing with our friends,” guitarist Benjamin Miller said. “I don’t know why we’d stop doing it. It’s like our social interest group. Barring a natural disaster, I doubt we’ll ever stop.”
It’s more than a good time, however; The Planets Align offers something the other acts they play in don’t: a true challenge.
“With some of the more accessible, repetitive verse-chorus-verse, there’s a lack of a challenge there. I feel like you can get burnt out, going through the version,” guitarist Richard Zenner said. “Early on with us, we had written things we couldn’t even play. We’ve had to get better as musicians just to execute what we came up with.”
The highly orchestrated, experimental but familiar style the band employs allows for plenty of opportunities to stretch musical muscle.
Influences come from all across the musical galaxy, and the guys behind The Planets Align try to pull from Black Sabbath and Rush to Isis and Pink Floyd, often in the same song. Dexterity comes from the metal sections, precision comes from classical riffs … but other times it’s not about learning anything.
“Sometimes, there’s a lot of music theory, but sometimes they are just rock songs,” drummer Chris Sanders said. “We’re a rock band, so there are times when it’s just hit the drum hard, play the big open chord, play loud. Just rock.”
It’s been half a decade since the four-piece formed, and it’s preparing to release its first bit of recorded material — a cassette tape EP due sometime by the end of the year. The Planets Align hadn’t felt the pressure to release anything prior to an increasingly vocal demand from their constantly growing legion of fans. As that pressure mounted, the band decided if they were going to do it, they’d do it properly and deliberately.
“We really had no constraints. We spent a lot of time taking stuff away, adding tracks and totally redoing others,” Zenner said. “The effort we put into it will show in the end product.”
It’s nearing completion; only mastering is left to finish. The gang is glad it banded together and hammered out this product, which is quickly becoming the center of its universe.
“I think we are all so excited about this because it’s something we did all on our own, a true team effort,” bassist Justin Combs said. “It’s something we really did together.”