Sure, it would be nice if life went exactly as planned. Or maybe it wouldn't. Either way, there's something out there — the hand of fate, an act of God, dumb luck — that can derail the most carefully mapped-out itineraries.
For Kate Perdoni, it's typically a van breaking down.
It was one such mechanical failure that led to Perdoni's transition from political folk performer Katey Sleeveless to the distaff half of electro-pop duo Eros and the Eschaton, who've just moved to Colorado Springs after a three-month tour promoting their recent Bar/None album, Home Address for Civil War.
"I was 20 years old, living in Minneapolis, and just traveling around making music," says Perdoni of the incident that set everything else in motion. "My boyfriend, at the time, and I broke down in Taos, New Mexico, and lived in a Walmart parking lot for a week."
The couple wasn't alone. Thanks to the retail monolith's policy of allowing shoppers to park overnight, a steady stream of recreational vehicles flock to Walmart parking lots with the fervor of '60s Deadheads racing the band to its next gig.
"It was not a very legitimate camping experience," admits Perdoni. "Teenagers would use it as a drag strip at night. There was this one guy who was kind of living out of his motor home; he'd make the same trek to Missoula, Montana every year, and always stay in that particular Walmart parking lot. He seemed like a nice guy, but you don't want to get too close to your neighbors in that situation."
While killing time in the land of low prices, Perdoni noticed a help-wanted ad for a news director position at an Alamosa community radio station. She contacted them and, based on some previous radio experience, was invited to interview.
"We sold the van to buy two one-way tickets to Alamosa," recalls Perdoni, whose sense of wanderlust went hand-in-hand with a degree of risk-taking. "I went in for the interview, got the job, and within 24 hours my life was transformed."
Had she not moved to Colorado, Perdoni likely wouldn't have met and befriended the Haunted Windchimes, in whose toolshed she was living when they introduced her to Adam Hawkins. In which case they wouldn't have fallen in love, had a son, gone out on tour, relocated to North Carolina — yes, their van broke down there — or signed to the revered indie label that launched the careers of influential artists like They Might Be Giants and Yo La Tengo.
"I found out about Bar/None when I was 17 years old," says Perdoni, who's now 29. "It was like this pinnacle of indie music, and you got the feeling that Yo La Tengo and They Might Be Giants and the Feelies would all just go out and have coffee together and be like best friends. I wanted to be part of something like that, so I used to send them demos when I was younger.
"And the fact that we ended up on Bar/None is amazing. They're such great people, with so much integrity and passion. There aren't a lot of things in life where you have this child-like ideal, and then that actually turns out to be the case."
Art for fun's sake
When the couple's van rolled into Colorado Springs last Friday, its occupants included their dog, their son, five low-end keyboards, two electric guitars, one drum set, a couple of amps, a small PA system, banjo, ukulele and trumpet.
Nearly all of the above — including their son but not the dog — can be heard on Home Address for Civil War, an album that's earned them comparisons to Low and My Bloody Valentine. It's an atmospheric affair, much of it recorded in an old North Carolina church, that often finds the duo's hushed vocals submerged beneath echo-laden guitars and minimalist synth hooks.
Eros and the Eschaton's aesthetic is far removed from an indie-folk scene populated by dustbowl vagabonds, gypsy minstrels, and a shared distaste for electricity. It's also a lot less polemical than Perdoni's Katey Sleeveless period, which found her delivering songs like "Take Your Land Back, Campesinos" and "The Government Seems to Have a Hard Time Passing Bills About Things That Are Free," all in a style that suggested Björk doing Woody Guthrie.
"Katie Sleeveless was like my solo acoustic political folk project, and I kind of got that out of my system," says Perdoni. "That's not to say I'm less politically exuberant than I was then, but you eventually become a little more subtle."
One of the album's standout tracks, "Don't.look.so.sad," finds Hawkins' metronomic drums and Perdoni's droney keyboards taking center stage. The song has a contemplative feel in total contrast to the accompanying video's scenes of the duo facing off with bolts of Tesla-style electricity shooting from their guitars.
Those kinds of quirky juxtapositions, combined with a band name lifted from a Terence McKenna lecture, could make you wonder if Perdoni and Hawkins are art-school dropouts.
"We might as well be," laughs Perdoni, before assuring me that they're not. "We're really just super-goofy, nerdy people. We just like to have fun."