BRITISH ACTOR Paddy Considine is the singer in a band called Riding the Low, and he knows what you're thinking.
"There's a stigma against actors who play music," he says. "People think it's a bit of a wank."
Riding the Low's melodic, down-to-earth rock should dispel any lingering suspicions that they are of the ilk of Russell Crowe's 30 Odd Foot of Grunts. Riding the Low's 2009 EP, They Will Rob You of Your Gifts, features solid songwriting and fuzzy guitars, though Considine has mixed feelings about it. "There are some okay songs on it," he says. "But because we're a guitar band, we were coming out of studios [in the UK] sounding like Oasis."
Considine is in town to play a one-off gig and work on Riding the Low's first LP, but his visit coincides with the US release of the widely acclaimed movie Tyrannosaur. The film, which Considine wrote and directed, is a stark and desolate story about a man who attempts to find redemption after brutally killing his dog. It has received wide acclaim, including a BAFTA for Outstanding Debut by a British Writer, Director, or Producer.
Now that the movie is done, Considine says he may watch it again—possibly in 10 years. For now, he's happy to focus on getting the album, No Atheists in the Trenches, just right. This time, Considine and his four bandmates, including co-songwriter Chris Baldwin, wanted something rawer—something less polished and more rock. Something like Guided by Voices.
In fact, if it weren't for Guided by Voices, Boston Spaceships, or the frontman of both bands—Robert Pollard—Considine probably wouldn't be in a band today. "It was like a switch went off in my brain," he says of the first time he heard GBV. "Everything, not just music, seemed to open up. There doesn't have to be a logic to rock and roll for it to be beautiful."
For Considine, who was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome two years ago, this was a huge breakthrough—people with Asperger's often require concrete rules and set formulas, and dislike things that don't seem logical. But while it has its challenges, Considine says the condition is not without its benefits.
"One of the gifts is the ability to be direct, to filter out a lot of the shit that other people deal with," he says. "Once I'm interested in something, I become obsessed with it and just go for it."
Which is why, when it came time to work on the album, Considine didn't hesitate to reach out to Chris Slusarenko, guitar player of GBV and Boston Spaceships. "I met Chris a few years ago at a Robert Pollard show," Considine says. "I could see his development on [Pollard's and Boston Spaceships] records, and I was excited by it. I thought he would see what I was trying to achieve that we weren't getting over here."
Slusarenko recruited Decemberists Nate Query and John Moen, who also played in Boston Spaceships, and Sunset Valley's guitar player Jonathan Drews. Since the permanent members of Riding the Low stayed in the UK for this leg of the record's production, Considine will front the Portland version of the band at Dante's for what may be the only time ever.
"I'm dead flattered. I can't believe all these fantastic musicians are playing on my record."