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Micaela Kingslight’s crossed-eyes make it difficult to avoid stumbling into the microphone stand. But when she’s jamming alongside a drummer with a compulsive twitch, a bass player with a hangnail and a multiple personality keyboardist, she can’t really complain.
“We’re gonna pretend that each person has some kind of strange ailment that’s making it difficult to play their instrument,” insists Kingslight, explaining that the quartet frequently breaks into impromptu skits to shake up their sometimes-down ditties. Her bandmates and high school pals – Jeff Newman, 23, and Jason Walker, 24 – bust out laughing.
“Sometimes they’re a little out there,” she continues.
Theater-enthusiast Newman is crafting a sea horse out of gum stuck on top of a straw and tells Kingslight that he may be a man, but he has a uterus and wings.
The three comrades are supposed to be fusing two tunes, one by Walker and the other by Kingslight, at Kalamazoo’s The Zoo Bar, where they practice every Wednesday. But the band’s other and oldest leg, Ginger Bailey, is M.I.A. because the bar’s toilet needed a new ball cock. So, Kingslight, 23, throws her life on the line by revealing the toilet-shopper’s age.
After asking permission from Walker and Newman, she spills it. Revealing that Bailey is 30 years old, she pauses and follows up the confession with: “But she doesn’t look it at all.”
It’s unlikely Bailey will use the toilet-part as a weapon when she reads this. The four longtime friends, who officially formed Fractal this August, have never fought. Unless dance dueling – where karate meets Tae Bo – counts. The night before practice, when the band stayed up to the wee hours, Kingslight tumbled on the dance floor mid-kick and fell on her ass.
“We’re supposed to pretend we’re hitting each other,” Kingslight starts and continues in a nasally laugh, “but he’s (Walker) really violent. And I have the bruises to prove it.”
The posse’s playful banter comes off as natural as their zeal for making music. “We don’t just play music in order to be cool or in order to get laid or for a lot of the reasons a lot of bands become bands. We do it for the music, first and foremost.”
So scoring is the icing on the cake? “Right,” Kingslight says nonchalantly, before realizing what she just agreed to. “What’d you say?” The statement’s repeated. But still, she concurs.
Fractal bathes in funk, alternative, rock, blues and jazz to assemble an infinite sound. On recently released EP “Timing” the band refashioned Kingslight’s sound, adding more layers and focusing on honing the songs’ sonic flair. It’s a departure from their first “Fly Papers,” which Kingslight says was almost completely self-generated.
The inclusion of three additions has been like filling a cavity and the former cover-band performer notes: “Working solo I didn’t have the sound that the music needed. It missed something.”
Three someones, to be exact. Recently, the foursome launched Fractal School of Music (located in the basement of Flipside Guitars in Portage), where each bandmember teaches their specialty: Newman coaches stage performance; Ginger teaches piano; Kingslight instructs songwriting and guitar/bass; and lone heterosexual Walker does drums and guitar.
Though gay bandmates outnumber Walker, he isn’t worried about it rubbing off on him. Insisting his answer is being influenced by the interviewer, he says, “I don’t want you putting words in my mouth.”
Newman quips: “Or anything else!”