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The Mass Media

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An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Antiques

If you heard somebody talking about a guy from a town called Leland, in the pinky of Michigan, and another guy from Arlington, there’s a pretty decent chance you might not know where the story was going.

Where it leads to, though, is the tale of Antiques, formed by second-year UMass Boston transfer student Timothy Griffiths and friend Steven Vallarelli. A band featured in The Phoenix, given favorable reviews by the Weekly Dig, that loves Great Scott because “they have amazing sound,” though located in “indie rock Mecca” Allston, where they hate because “everyone is way too cool for school,” and enjoy the Middle East, but are more into house parties and basements.

Griffiths came to Boston and completed two years at Berklee College of Music. He decided that a degree in music was not useful, so he chose UMass Boston because “it’s cheap” and decided to work on music independently.

After learning the reasons for leaving the Mitten State in favor of the Bay State, the natural progression is learning that Griffiths and Vallarelli met at Berklee. However, “he’s just a friend of mine from around,” Griffiths said. “I met him…I don’t even remember, honestly. I’ve just known him for so long-like six years-ever since I got to Boston.”

Before the two of them began Antiques, they each had one-man bands. It was when Vallarelli shared his work with Griffiths that Antiques began to form. One of the things about forming Antiques Griffiths said has been a benefit is the balance because one-man bands are tough, particularly because he “[doesn’t] play any instrument very well.” They play on their strengths, as Vallarelli can sing and Griffiths can play the drums.

The duo split the songwriting and share responsibilities like production, arrangement, organizing, direction, concept; what Griffiths calls “the pretentious stuff.” But, like all famous duos, they have their divergences.

“We’re really, really different-he’s like Dylan Thomas. He’ll spend, like, four montsh working on one song, and I write songs in five minutes,” Griffiths said. “The difference is that my five minute songs, only one of them are any good, and the other four I never listen to again. The songs he spends four months on are really good and he never sends me a song that sucks. Once in a while it happens, but I’ll send him 10 songs and he’ll say, ‘Yeah, one of those isn’t bad.'”

They cite David Bowie as one of their biggest musical influences, while also enjoying Tom Waits and local bands Viva Viva and Tulsa, and the style and sound of Antiques lies in the category of “messy and lo-fi; really poor musicianship. Lots of heart, no head.”

Griffiths and Vallarelli like being in the studio so much that they like to record as they have the material, regardless of if they plan to put an album out. Antiques put the songs online, free for anyone to download, because they like the material when it’s fresh and it’s new and they’re “not tired of playing it yet.”

“Anyone now is going to have to say they stole the idea from Radiohead, because of how huge the ‘In Rainbows’ release was,” Griffiths said. “I thought that in producing albums, especially because we do it in low-budget kind of way, it would be most interesting to try to sell people things which are actually of value. And we usually don’t have that. […] I feel bad if people don’t get anything at the shows, so they can go online and get it for free. We have no way to sell it and it has no value right now, because there’s no demand for our music right now.”

While musicians often think of their bodies of work as progressing, Griffiths believes that Antiques has taken a different direction.

“It’s almost like we’ve devolved, in a way,” he said. “We dumped a lot into our first album to make it professional, clean and mastered. As we’ve gone along, we’ve become more comfortable recording in a home environment and using tape recorders and not caring so much about quality. Our first album was recorded in multi-tracks in a studio and took us about a month and a half; the second was recorded on equipment from the 1970s in five days.”

The next album Antiques is planning will be recorded in New Hampshire with a couple of drums, a guitar, a bass, an amp and one keyboard, and a one-track cassette recorder, and are planning on doing it in five days, with a lot of live takes. Or, as Griffiths put it, “really, really ghetto stuff.” They have a few ideas about how the next album will go, but nothing is concrete yet.

What is concrete, though, is the passion that Griffiths, Vallarelli and their performing band have about the music they are dedicating themselves to.

“I definitely want to be successful at it,” “I don’t know that it means a record contract. I view success as just making an album that blows me away. I take it very seriously and work on music all the time. It’s not just a hobby.”

For more information on Antiques, as well as the free downloads of their two albums “Forgotten People Tread Water” and “Floodlight” and the boys’ side projects, visit antiquesaredead.org.