Break of Reality fuses cello’s classical orchestra traditions with heavy metal and rock
By Mary Houlihan For Sun-Times Media May 15, 2014 3:06PM
Break of Reality, 8 p.m. May 17, Lincoln Hall, 2424 N. Lincoln. $18. (773) 525-2501; lincolnhallchicago.com
Updated: May 15, 2014 3:06PM
Ten years ago Ivan Trevino and Patrick Laird came up with an intriguing idea: Create a band that mixes classical music with rock. Break of Reality was formed while they were students at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, N.Y. Wanting to take a break from the rigorous reality (thus the band’s name) of a classical conservatory, they were drawn to a side project that would fuse their course of study with other musical interests.
Break of Reality features three cellists and a percussionist who perform classical and original works but also interpretations of rock tunes by the likes of Tool, Nine Inch Nails and Metallica. Trevino (percussion) and Laird (cello) are founding members, with cellists Laura Metcalf and Adrian Daurov recently joiningthe group.
The ensemble has a diehard fan base and recently released its third album, “Ten” featuring original tunes including “Star,” a tribute Laird wrote for his wife, a classical pianist. The band also has gained worldwide notice for its stunning arrangement of the “Game of Thrones” theme song. (The video has more than 3 million views on YouTube.)
“The song features a cello in the melody line so it made sense for us to cover it,” Trevino says. “We put our own cello rock twist to it. When the actors in the show started sharing it on social media, we were pretty star struck.”
The band’s rock influence comes from Laird who attended a New Jersey high school that didn’t have an orchestra. So instead of having orchestra friends, his friends were rock and metal musicians.
“I remember going to rock concerts and seeing the energy these bands had on stage; no music stands, moving lights, etc.,” Laird recalls. “I was a little jealous to be honest. And thought “Why can’t I do this?”
Putting cello and rock in the same sentence makes sense because, simply put, it’s a versatile instrument. Laird started rethinking the way he was playing to “create a louder, more rock sound. Luckily, the cello can be both beautiful and visceral, so combining the classical and rock is especially natural for the cello.”
However, the band struggled with how to describe their music. They use the term “cello rock” but it’s really much more and defies a simple tag.
“When we perform some of the set is classically oriented, some of the set is improvisation, some of the set is loud and rocking,” Trevino says. “Some people call it cinematic rock. All of these different descriptions have actually been great for us.”
Take for instance the Internet radio site Pandora where the band’s music pops up on all sorts of stations from Radiohead to Yo-Yo Ma to German film composer Hans Zimmer. “This is just one way we’re able to reach a lot of different people with different musical tastes,” Trevino says.
Trevino and Laird recently took Break of Reality back to their alma mater for a performance at the Kodak Hall at Eastman Theatre. “We have always wanted to go back and play the big hall,” Trevino notes. “It was a very special night for us.”
But when the band started out at Eastman, Trevino recalls that band members were “a little reluctant” to talk to their teachers about it: “It’s always scary doing something different and that’s especially so in a classical music environment where there are at times strict rules about what you should and shouldn’t do. But we’ve found our nitch, trying to capture the essence and energy of classical and rock music in an unconventional way.”