Thursday, January 3, 2013

"Drive" time Saturday night

McAlister Drive's Christoph Krey

 McAlister Drive, you could say, was heading down the wrong road for a while. The band formed in 2006, but it wasn’t until working on 2010’s “Missing Figures” that it found a way to house pop songs in a more rustic sound that simply rang truer to singer and front man Christoph Krey.

When Krey teamed with fiddle player Scarlet Deering and banjo player Grace Van’t Hof, it changed McAlister Drive’s direction.

“The instrumentation brought out a different vibe. It complemented my lyrical style and it brought my voice into a better realm,” Krey says.

Now all eight members of McAlister Drive_ oh there are drums, keys, and bass alongside fiddle and banjo_ can’t fit into the Coppertop for the band’s show there Saturday. But Krey assures even stripped down_ which McAlister Drive often does for radio appearances and other intimate shows_ the essence of the band comes through. The music starts at 8 p.m.

“It’s pop-rock with Americana. It lets me bring in more alt-country and folk influences into the songwriting, which I like,” Krey says.

Krey thought “Missing Figures” would be the first small step toward maturing the group's sound. But the E.P. generated a lot of interest in the band, which plays throughout the Northeast and builds tours around festival appearances.

“People wanted to hear more, and we didn’t want to give them our first album, it just isn’t representative of what we sound like now,” Krey says.

So the original plan to work slowly and craft a series of four E.P.s got tossed and the band settled into Q Division studio in Somerville and made the full-length “The Goddess” album.

Krey’s pop sensibilities_ big hooks, dramatic sweep_ come through in songs ranging from the rambunctious “Best Dressed” to the driven “Ocean Skip Away.” But the twang and pluck give the songs an enduring texture.

“It’s been a maturing process,” Krey says. “The band went through puberty finally.”

“The Goddess” paved the way for McAlister Drive to earn an invite to the prestigious Folk Alliance conference happening this year in Toronto. After that the band will tour the South and head to the South By Southwest music conference in Austin.

There are also a bunch of shows booked around Boston and New York City.

But Krey enjoys playing at Wachusett, saying his loyalty is rooted in the days spent skiing the Wah as a kid.

“I like that room,” Krey says of the Coppertop. “It’s got a nice grassroots feel to it and people check out the music. It’s not like playing at a ski resort where the people are just out to get a drink.”

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