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The time is now for Future Bible Heroes

What’s in a name• Dry humor, grandiose pretension, withering sarcasm, oxymoronic enigma – you can read all of these things into the band name Future Bible Heroes, and it still doesn’t quite capture the essence of this bizarre, brilliant little band.

The Future Bible Heroes, which will play tonight at the Andy Warhol Museum, North Shore, probably is best known as songwriter Stephin Merritt’s latest project. Of the four bands he helms and the hundreds of songs he’s written, it was the Magnetic Fields’ monolithic triple-disc album “69 Love Songs” that opened the public’s eye to this reclusive, one-man Manhattan factory of song.

Future Bible Heroes combines Merritt with his Magnetic Fields muse Claudia Gonson and Boston DJ-producer Chris Ewen, who crafts its dense, meticulously detailed soundscapes. As with most Merritt projects, the band members are never in the same room together during the recording. Ewen comes up with the music, Merritt listens to it, takes the tunes he likes and writes lyrics and melodies for them, then Gonson figures out how to sing them. The three-piece puzzle then fits together – usually very smoothly.

Usually.

“I felt a little uncomfortable about doing too many big diva numbers, because my voice is somewhat unaffected and melancholic,” Gonson says. “Of course, Stephin decided to throw that one right in my face by writing songs like ‘I Am a Vampire.'”

With lines such as, I am neither sweet nor sincere/And I’d rather drink blood than beer/’cause I’m a vampire, Merritt is clearly having a laugh or two at his bandmate’s insecurities. But the song works, despite its narrator’s unaccustomed bravado. And the ethereal Gonson even gets to do a Debbie Harry-like rap midway through the song.

The band’s unorthodox recording method seems to contradict every notion of what it means to be “a band.” But, one has to admit, it’s worked for them.

“It’s strange, but I don’t actually feel very comfortable singing in front of other people (in the studio),” Gonson says. “I like to try different styles of singing, like screaming it one time, and whispering it the next.”

Bandmate Ewen crafts some of the most sonically dense pop songs in existence. The Future Bible Heroes’ new album, “Eternal Youth,” is an audiophile’s dream, revealing new, hidden textures and sounds with every listen.

“I did a lot of recording of bamboo kalimbas, and looking for small exotic instruments, and either playing or sampling them and then playing with the samples,” Ewen says. “I like to record drops of water and stretch them beyond recognition, then make rhythm tracks out of them.”

Of course, that’s lost on most American critics. “I think that the American perception is that if a song has a synthesizer in it, it’s an ’80s New Wave pop song. My idea was for it to not be an ’80s thing – to throw lots of bamboo and water samples in it – and try to muck it up a little.”

Future Bible Heroes


  • With Parker & Lily
  • 8 p.m. today
  • $10
  • The Andy Warhol Museum, North Side
  • (412) 237-8300


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