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  DO YOU KNOW THE INFORMATION?  
   
 


 

llo, Boston! We're the Cure!" says Robert Smith, to a stunned crowd of costumed revelers, who gasp audibly when the singer steps out of the dark, his trademark red lipstick and blue eyeliner blooming in the stage lights.

 

 
 

The crowd isn't merely shocked by the fact the Cure would be willing to appear in this impossibly small venue on a bustling Friday night, they are shocked because Robert Smith is such a convincing liar. You see, Robert Smith isn't really speaking into the microphone, he's thousands of miles away in England. And despite the way it looks,

 
 

the Cure aren't playing the Paradise Lounge's compact stage in downtown Boston because they're not even on tour.

It's all an illusion created by The Information, an up-and-coming Boston band, who have donned new wave drag for a special Halloween night gig. Robert

 

Smith's shoes are being ably filled by Max Fresen, The Information's lead singer, while the other five costumed members of The Information round out the cast of the Cure.

Without the costumes and covers, The Information's six members have a sleek, black look and a Manchester circa 1983 vibe. Max Fresen is the lead singer and driving force behind the band's songwriting. Zack Wells and Deb Grant play guitar. Ashley Moody, formerly of Servotron, plays keyboards, giving the band its signature

 

synth sound, while the rhythm section gets its bounce from Heath Fradkoff's bass playing and Brad Kayal's drumming.

Combined, they have a moody, yet danceable, keyboards-and-bass sound that evokes the Happy Mondays, Joy Division and even parts of the Cure.

But for the last six-and-a-half weeks, they've eschewed their

 
 

original songs to pound away at the Cure's backlog in a puny twelve-by-twelve practice space that can barely contain them. And judging from the way the cigarette girl in the short skirt screams over the opening bassline of "Jumping Someone Else's Train," the hard work has paid off.

Despite the bad wigs and cover songs, it's quite clear that The Information is a real band.

***

But you don't know about this band. You haven't heard of them because they're from Boston and the music industry is too busy dealing with the worst slump in history to send A&R men to Boston. And so while New York's music scene has exploded over the last three years, with The Strokes paving the way for legions of fashionably cool bands like Stellastar* to get big record deals, the rebirth of Boston's scene has largely gone unheralded.

Despite the fact that Boston is awash in college students eight months out of the year, the music scene hasn't exactly been a hotbed of college rock, like Chapel Hill. While bands from coast-to-coast feature musicians who were trained at one of Boston's many music colleges, like Berklee, college students don't seem to be in them. And like the music scene, the bars don't seem to cater to college students, either. Good luck finding a college night shot special.

"It's a weird mix here," says Deb Grant, guitarist. "There are lots of straight-up plain rock bands that maybe border on indie influenced. The strangest thing is that most of the bands seem to be comprised of mid-to-late 20-somethings and early 30-somethings. I would just expect to see younger acts since there are so many colleges here, but there don't seem to be many."

It's not easy to find a place to play in Boston, whose music clubs

 
 

have had a bad decade, with some of the most revered venues, like the Rathskellar, a legendary punk rock pit, closing up shop to make way for luxury hotels.

"In Boston, you can't play more

 

than once every two weeks. There's like this two-week rule," says Heath Fradkoff, bassist. "We broke with that when we played three times a month."

The tight-knit Boston community is alive with new bands, finally recovered from the death of the Pixies, whose musical vacuum was filled by acts that imploded as major labels developed an interest and all-ages hardcore matinees. But this supportive and insular scene has been more of a bridesmaid than a bride over the last decade, a hot house environment that allowed record labels like Taang! and Big Wheel Recreation to thrive only to watch them both leave town.

Without as many venues to play, most bands keep their day jobs, by and large, and to get noticed by larger record labels, bands are forced to look outside of the scene.

"Nowadays you practically need an agent to talk with a label. New York seems to have more opportunity for something bigger to happen for us," says Heath Fradkoff, the band's bassist. "Boston is a great town, but for many bands it seems like a great place to start. It's like an incubation city. There's so much talent here and a lot of it goes unnoticed."

***

And so if the world won't come to Boston, then Boston must come to New York. Two months after making their New York City debut at

 

Club Luxx in Brooklyn, the Information will play New York again, opening for Adam Franklin, former lead singer of Swervedriver. The gig, which takes place at the Knitting Factory on Friday night, is the band's largest since opening up for the Decemberists.

After 14 months together, rumor has it that some major indie labels are already looking at The Information, who have a four-song

 
 

EP and enough material on their Web site to fill an LP at this point. Despite the interest, the members of the band seem happier that they're not practicing Cure covers anymore, ready to be themselves again. Ready to see if Boston can win over New York.

"We love New York and playing there. I mean, we love Boston, too, but this place can only take you so far," says Zack Wells, guitarist, before the harsh reality of being in an unsigned band kicks in. "Then again, eight million assholes move to New York and think something will happen, and it doesn't."

 

*BT*