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POSITIVE NO By Shannon Cleary / Photo by PJ Sykes

Positive No started over three years ago, but for a variety of reasons, the band took a while to get going. Yet from the start, there’s been a buzz surrounding their efforts. It makes sense if you’re aware of the musical background shared by co-founders Tracy Wilson and Kenneth Close, but it also seems a bit peculiar to judge a group on expectations derived from past endeavors. Their past efforts shouldn’t be ignored; yet it can’t be denied that their current endeavors are equally, if not more, exciting. The band got started due to a thought Close had while at a show. At this point in his personal history, he’d been out of the music scene for a while. “I watched a friend of mine play a show and I started to wonder why I wasn’t doing this,” he recalls. “It seemed like a missed opportunity. And the idea of playing in a band in my thirties didn’t seem like an absurd idea.” This newfound desire to make music culminated over a winter break in 2011. Aided by modern technology, Close began to write some songs. “One factor that made working on music a little easier was having a digital work station, as opposed to getting a four track out,” he explains. “You could immediately sense layers of songs beginning to form and take shape.” Wilson was quickly drawn into the process, contributing to songs in ways that went far 36

beyond just vocal melodies and harmonies. While she only sings during the band’s live performances, she contributes to the songwriting process by augmenting Close’s guitar parts with ideas of her own. “The way that I approach playing guitar is a way of developing a melodic accompaniment for what I might do with what I sing,” Wilson says. These early collaborations began to take shape as some of the songs that later appeared on Positive No’s first EP. However, soon after the band’s initial formation, tragedy struck. Wilson was involved in an auto accident that left her with a head injury requiring a lengthy recovery process. “After the accident, I started to relearn how to sing. There was a heightened sensitivity to sound that I had to acknowledge,” Wilson recalls. This reeducation definitely informed the ways Positive No refined their sound. Compared to her previous vocal work in bands like Dahlia Seed and Ringfinger, her approach in Positive No feels like a new page entirely. The dynamic interplay engages listeners as the swirls of Close’s guitar mingle with Wilson’s hushed vocals. While Wilson taught herself how to sing after the events that had befallen her, Close took a similar approach to his guitar playing in the band. “It’s crazy to think how much

time I spent playing music throughout the nineties, to then return to it and practically have to reteach myself how to play guitar,” he jokes. After several months of recovery, the two began considering how to approach recording and performing live. “When we were working on demoing, we would send them out to a friend on the West Coast, who began putting drums to a lot of these songs. It was a good way for us to start getting a better idea for what direction we were going to take,” Close says. After these initial exercises, they started to consider potential candidates to fill out their live lineup, approaching drummer Willis Thompson, formerly of Thao With The Get Down Stay Down and Murphy’s Kids, among others. “At the time, he wasn’t playing music with anyone. That probably comes as a surprise to many, but for us, we found him at a very fortunate time,” Close says. Wilson was quick to seek out an old friend to play bass for them-James Menefee, known for his work in Fun Size, River City High, Long Arms, and more. “I have known James for quite a while, and there is a certain comfort in having him play on whatever you are working on,” Wilson remarks. “He’s so incredibly talented, and he will just sound awesome.” With a full lineup assembled and an engineer in mind, the process began to create their debut EP, RVA MAGAZINE 20 | SPRING 2015

RVA #20 SPRING 2015  

The year is 2015, and here at RVA Magazine we are ecstatic to be celebrating our first decade of publication! This issue kicks off our Ten Y...

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