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I Sank Molly Brown.
Coleen Elliott/Denver Post
I Sank Molly Brown.

If you go

What: I Sank Molly Brown

When: 9 p.m. Saturday

Where: Larimer Lounge, 2721 Larimer St., Denver, 303-291-1007

Cost: $10

More info:

Searching for an accurate description of Denver band I Sank Molly Brown suddenly seems pointless when Dylan Self puts it this way:

“If you sat down at a bar with the three of us, you’d say that our music sounds like the way we talk. We all gravitate to elementary-style jokes, but we talk about this existential stuff.”

That’s it. The title of the band’s latest EP, Mind Over Mothra, came from Caleb Tardio mishearing a coworker who said “mind over matter.” The band’s 2011 LP, Ishmael Asimov, has a song called “Stay Away From Oprah,” which Self says is a line Dave Chappelle screamed during a sketch, and that he, Tardio and John Moses started yelling at each other. But the music is no joke.

“Lazerstains,” one of just three tracks on Mind Over Mothra, is a prime example of the way I Sank Molly Brown’s lyrics get personal and serious. It’s part list of things an ex left behind, part venting to that ex things like, “sick of seeing you with him.” Musically, it’s also a great example of why a description of I Sank Molly Brown can be hard to pin down. Post-punk is usually the classification of choice, though it could also be post-hardcore (they’d fit in that ’80s hardcore scene) or even math rock (just listen to those guitar solos).

“It’s so tough to really say, because there are so many labels out there that mean so many things, and you’re getting into post- post- this and that,” Self said. “A lot of my song ideas come from playing a chord incorrectly and I think, ‘Wow, I’ve never heard that before.’ I think a lot of other bands are bigger fans of us than just random people that hear us, and that’s a compliment. Doing something that nobody’s done is really important to us, but we also want people to have fun.”

I Sank Molly Brown has been Self, Tardio and Moses since 2008, trading off instrumental duties since they pared down from a five-piece band. With that change, the music also got more melodic. Tardio broke a finger and couldn’t play bass or guitar, so the trio started incorporating keys.

“It was a necessity for a while, and we were also getting into other bands at the time that were doing multiple instrumentation,” Self said. “Caleb, he has a lot more kind of a hardcore lead guitar style that came from when he was younger. I grew up in Seattle where there was grunge and lyrics were second to having a melody, so I drift toward rhythm guitar style. Caleb’s style is more jazzy and John is sort of right down the middle.”

The combined styles and the effort to make something unheard of, somewhat surprisingly, create something that feels familiar. But it’s familiarity chopped up and twisted into something new, like a chef deconstructing and reworking pizza into a more complex meal.

Then, I Sank Molly Brown goes and names these creations “Onward Mighty Honkeys.” Still having fun.

Contact Ashley Dean at 303-473-1109 or

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