There is no substitute for chemistry among band members and lived experience can’t be faked on record. 1,000 Umbrellas came to the recording studio with decades of shared and individual experience in life and in music. The result, their debut CD re:thingk, is a superb collection of heartfelt songs that speak of life viewed through the subjective lens of the human mind. From politics to depression, from coping with death to corporate greed, from losing faith to finding love, they leave the door open for you to experience the depths of both lyric and music.

At the heart of 1,000 Umbrellas is a duo, drummer and percussionist Brian Wendtlandt and guitarist and vocalist Allan Williams. But drawing from a wide circle of friends, the twosome expand on many tracks into a full rock band complete with horn section, and can regroup into a variety of lineups on stage.

Allan has been in the music business for years, entering the scene playing in bands in the late 80’s which led the way to his long time career as an audio engineer. He starting out mixing bands in the local club scene but it soon evolved into hitting the road with bands such as Paul Cebar, The Violent Femmes and Willy Porter as well as mixing high profile stages at Milwaukee’s Summerfest. When Allan decided to get off the road, he and Willy Porter opened Engine Room Studios where he tracked, mixed and produced local and national acts throughout the 00’s. Brian is also a veteran of the Milwaukee music scene having drummed with bands such as Members Fickle, Tolstoi’s Tricycle, The Wooldridge Brothers, Tyler Traband and New Harmony Indiana as well as attending UWM School of Music for percussion performance.

Allan and Brian first collaborated in Tolstoi’s Tricycle, a staple in Milwaukee’s underground scene throughout the mid to late 90’s. Though, remaining friends, they parted ways for a while musically before Tolstoi’s Tricycle released their self titled debut album in 2001 with a new drummer. Their paths merged again in the mid 00‘s when Brian and Allan found time amidst jobs, marriage and children to write and hone a collection of songs that ultimately flowered into re:thingk. Remaining nameless at first, they were just waiting for the right time to bring the project out of the basement. In 2011 they became 1,000 Umbrellas and decided to get serious. They started recording the tracks that would become re:thingk in the fall of 2011, completing the album in the fall of 2013. The years of hard work led to an intimacy with each song and the result is thoughtful yet not overworked, the urgency undiminished and refined through careful composition—like a sculptor molding clay or chiseling with deliberation on stone. Allan says that although there are heights to be reached with improvisation, there are definitely depths to be gained by stewing a song for years.

Allan is 1,000 Umbrellas’ songwriter, but Brian is integral to the arrangements. re:thingk is a composite of their talents. Rhythms are tight, guitar solos are concise and expressive. 1,000 Umbrellas’ music is a happy encounter between heart and craft. Allan, commenting on the autobiographical dimension of his lyrics, says that there’s very little fiction in his songs which are unflinching in addressing life’s tragedies yet ultimately hopeful in their resolution.

1,000 Umbrellas, deriving it’s name from an XTC song and sounding like no one but themselves, will appeal to fans of contemporary, song-oriented bands that have followed their own direction regardless of trends. re:thingk is an album that shines on the surface but reveals its depths gradually. It’s not only worth a listen—it rewards listeners who return to it again and again.




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