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The Daily Cardinal Est. 1892
Saturday, May 18, 2024

Conspiring to make Madison dance

Right before Conspirator’s tour kickoff in Madison, bassist Marc “Brownie” Brownstein took a few minutes to chat with The Daily Cardinal between games of “Madden” with his son as they watched Hurricane Sandy blow through their neighborhood.

Formed in 2004 as a side project of The Disco Biscuits, Conspirator originally consisted of Brownstein on bass and Aron Magner on keyboards. During the past year, guitarist Chris Michetti and drummer KJ Sawka both joined as permanent members of the band.

In March of 2010, Jon “Barber” Gutwillig broke his hand backstage at a Disco Biscuits show. To replace him, the Biscuits brought in Michetti as well as Tommy Hamilton of Brothers Past. Over the course of the next couple of months of their tour, Brownstein and Michetti became very close.

“I had created an extremely close bond with Chris in that time and it was just like a natural progression,” said Brownstein. “He sat in with Conspirator at Camp Barefoot Festival over that summer, and it was just such a natural fit. He already knew so many of the Conspirator songs because the Biscuits were playing them at that time and we kind of just felt like it brought something new to Conspirator.”

Once Michetti was in the band, Conspirator began touring as they moved away from being a side project to being a full time band. They began by using a rotating cast of drummers including Darren Shearer of The New Deal and Mike Greenfield of Lotus; however, things really started clicking once they brought Sawka on board.

With a fully solidified lineup, the band hit the studio for the first time since just Magner and Brownstein released The Key in 2005, and the group is about to put out a new EP.

“We did release a bunch of studio stuff last year but it was done differently,” said Brownstein. “There were no guitars and basses, there was no live drums over it. This time KJ has done all the drum work, just the drum work is absolutely incredible.”

“We are trying to release something more like what Conspirator actually sounds like than when we were releasing Porter Robinson remixes,” said Brownstein. “So now the idea is to do what we did on the live album and try to like recreate that vibe in the studio.”

While the band has its roots in the jam band world through Brownstein and Magner’s membership in The Disco Biscuits, Conspirator is hardly a jam band.

“We look at that as a positive thing that we get to tap into two different worlds,” said Brownstein. “We are primarily an EDM group; we improvise very little, if at all … we love to jam, don’t get me wrong, but if we have an hour set, there is no time to improvise. It’s not like the Biscuits where we will play a four-song set.”

While Conspirator is Brownstein’s main touring act at this point, The Disco Biscuits are still very much alive and kicking, with their Mayan Holidaze festival in mid-December, as well as their annual New Year’s Eve run in New York City.

Conspirator will come to Madison on Halloween for what is sure to be a pure dance party.

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“We’ll make it one way or another,” said Brownstein about the travel difficulties presented by the hurricane sweeping the East Coast. “If I have to get into a car tomorrow night and drive overnight to get to Chicago and meet the bus that’s what I am doing. I am the person who absolutely picked being in Madison on Halloween. I had a gut feeling that being on State Street on Halloween, that it would be a great night to be there.”

Conspirator will take the stage at the Majestic Theatre Oct. 31. Doors open at 8 p.m. and the concert starts at 9 p.m.

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