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Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s: Folky Chamber Pop in Indianapolis

Indianapolis is home to a huge variety of musicians, bands, and artists, from the metalcore screaming of Haste the Day to the riot grrl pop rock of Sally Anthony. The city thrives on individuality and creative expression, and perhaps the best example of this is Indianapolis music group Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s. One of the rising forces in independent music today, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s create lush, textured pop rock symphonies using a variety of different instruments, techniques, and stylings.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s were formed in 2004, and the group currently consists of eight members: Richard Edwards on lead vocals and guitar, Andy Fry on guitar, Chris Fry on drums, Hubert Glover on brass, Erik Krang on the lap steel and violin, Casey Tennis on percussion, Emily Watkins on keys and backup vocals, and Tyler Watkins on bass. The band is very popular in the Indianapolis media, having appeared in NUVO Newsweekly and the Indianapolis Star.

Video of an acoustic performance of “Flower Pots” by Indianapolis band Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s

 

Each member of Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s has a long history of Indiana music. Andy Fry and brother Chris Fry both belonged to bands while going to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. Andy currently owns an Indianapolis record label, Queensize. Both went to North Central High School, a school in Indianapolis. Emily Watkins went to Valparaiso University in Valparaiso, Indiana, and her unrelated bandmate, Tyler Watkins, graduated from Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Percussionist Casey Tennis and former member Jesse Lee both grew up in Greencastle, Indiana, and have been making music since their teenage years. Edwards, frontman for Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, began writing and playing music at age 13.

Indianapolis band Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s perform their song “As Tall as Cliffs”

 

All these forces combine to create the varied musical palette that makes Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s what it is today. All the band’s members live together in a single piece of Indianapolis real estate, so they have somewhat of a family bond. This certainly shows in the music they make, which is commonly described as “chamber pop”. This style, which began to make its mark in the commercial scene in the early 2000′s, is marked by complex instrumentation, orchestral arrangements, and lush production. Bands like Annuals, The Decemberists, Anathallo, and Broken Social Scene typify the genre.

Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s currently have three albums and an EP in circulation. Their 2006 debut, The Dust of Retreat, was originally released on Indianapolis label Standard Recording Company, but has since been re-released by Artemis Records. Based on the Greenwich Village music scene of the 1960′s, the record is a quiet, folky affair that’s reminiscent of Sufjan Stevens, occasionally punctuated by louder, more upbeat segments. The album received mostly favorable reviews and catapulted Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s to the forefront of the Indianapolis music scene.

Video interview with Indianapolis band Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s at the 2007 Monolith Music Festival

 

In 2008, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s had a slew of new releases. The band recorded an in studio session at an internet music hub, Daytrotter. The website streams “Daytrotter Sessions” of indie bands on its website, but Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s was the first band to commercially release such a session. The Daytrotter Sessions EP contains tracks from their newest albums, Animal! and Not Animal.

In a strange turn of events, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s released two versions of the same album in October of 2008. Not Animal and its vinyl only companion, Animal!, are based off of the same recording sessions and feature a few common songs. Animal! is the band’s choice of song listing, completely untouched by the record label. Not Animal contains tracks that Epic Records, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s current label, chose. Not Animal includes songs that Margot has been playing live for some time, including “Broad Ripple is Burning,” which is based on the Indianapolis cultural district.

Home video of “Tiny Vampire Robots” by Indianapolis band Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s

 

Both Animal! and Not Animal are evolutions and affirmations of the sound Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s established on The Dust of Retreat. The records have a slightly harder edge than their predecessor, utilizing more shoegaze techniques, electric guitars, and distortion. However, Richard Edwards’ crooning vocals are still present, as is a heavy folk influence.

While Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s is a nationally touring artist, most of the band members still live in Indianapolis and consistently play shows at Indianapolis bars and Indianapolis music venues. Much like other Indianapolis bands, Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s started small, playing gigs for friends, empty bars, and unenthusiastic audiences. Nowadays, the band can be seen at such popular Indianapolis venues as the Egyptian Room in the Murat Centre, the Vogue Nightclub, the Emerson Theatre, Radio Radio, and the Music Mill. The band also plays a number of fairs and festivals, including Summerfest in Milwaukee and Wicker Park Fest in Chicago, though the band currently has no scheduled performances at Indianapolis fairs and festivals.

For more information on Margot and the Nuclear So and So’s, including media, music samples, and upcoming tour dates, please visit the band’s homepage and their MySpace page.

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