Mark Thomas Kluepfel sounds short of breath. When I ask him if everything's all right, the Action Action vocalist tells me that he's been running up and down the hills of Southern California. And that, before starting this interview, he downed a few tablespoons of Sudafed. He's feeling a little loopy.
It's a lot like how he felt after he lost his laptop two years ago and with it, the plans for his band's second album, 2006's An Army of Shapes Between Wars. When that happened, he ran out and downed a bottle of Seagram's.
It was a pretty understandable meltdown. Until then, all had been well. Action Action was signed to Victory Records, and was going around the country promoting its debut, 2004's Don't Cut Your Fabric to This Year's Fashion. This particular night, the guys were in Chicago for a sold-out show, attended by representatives from the record label.
They finished the performance and were altogether pumped. Later, they went out to celebrate with friends, and Kluepfel left his laptop at his friends' apartment. When he came back, it, along with 20 or so Action Action demos, lyrics and pictures stored on it, was gone.
After the discovery, Kluepfel did what any reasonable musician would: He drowned himself in alcohol and sulked. It halted the creative process.
"Once [the laptop] got stolen, I was like, "Fuck it,'" Kluepfel says. "I was writing too much, anyway."
Once the mourning was out of his system, he started all over again from scratch meaning Army of Shapes was essentially written twice.
"I had to get out of the mindset of trying to remember what I once had," Kluepfel says. "I knew I couldn't do it, so I had to stop."
What emerged was an album that expanded the sound of the band's debut.
With Kluepfel holing himself up for six weeks to write it, the process, once in motion again, moved quickly. The band, an indie synth-rock, post-punk foursome that lies somewhere between VHS or Beta and The Killers, recorded and released the album within two months.
But even Kluepfel doesn't know how different the sophomore disc would've sounded had he not lost his notes.
"I think it would've [been different]," he says. "On the same token, I don't know if it would've been any better or any worse. Those songs could've been absolutely dreadful. I don't even recall. I was just stuck in the habit of writing, so it could've been monotonous garbage."
Now that Action Action is touring without a label, the band can take its time with its next album. During Army of Shapes' recording, Victory asked Action Action to send tapes every other day, just to keep tabs on progress.
"It's hard when that happens, because you start thinking about what people want to hear and not what you want to play," Kluepfel says. "Not that I'm unhappy with this album at all, because I think it's really great. I just wish there was time to reflect a little. This time, we'll have more opportunity to do what we want."
Action Action with The City Lives,
The Axe That Chopped The Cherry Tree and Chain Gang of 1974
The Black Sheep, 2106 E. Platte Ave.
Thursday, Dec. 13, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $8, all ages; visit ticketweb.com or call 866/468-7621.