There is an old expression in show business that goes something like this: "All comedians want to be rock stars, and all rock stars want to be funny." This statement has never rung truer than in the case of local musicians/comedians (as well as brothers) Michael and Stephen Kline.
The Klines are already a well-known commodity in the Memphis comedy scene. Both are mainstays at local comedy shows and open-mics as solo performers, and the two collaborate on a consistently funny comedy podcast called "Twin Face Kline," which is part of the emerging Shut Up and Listen Podcast Network.
But, according to Michael, the thing that gets them going is music.
"Music has always been the first true love," he says. "Stephen and I have been writing songs since we were little kids, so I suppose we've always been a two-piece band."
This week, the Klines — under the moniker/band-name Community Bubble — celebrate the release of their eponymous debut album of original music with a free show on Friday, June 1st, at the Poplar Lounge. The album finds the band (which also includes trumpeter Nathan Hiller and drummer Whitney Wood) exploring familiar '60s and '70s pop/rock territory but with the lo-fi grandiosity and playfulness reminiscent of local precursors Snowglobe. The end result makes for a very interesting and solid first effort.
"The songs on the album were written by Michael and me in different periods of our lives," Stephen says. "We were extremely lucky to find [producer] Jared Callan. We've known him for a while on the comedy scene. Jared produced the songs on the new album, which we recorded over the course of the past couple of years at Michael's home. We come into the recording process with the song and arrangement. Jared is brilliant at making it sound great and also adds his own flourishes."
After this Friday's CD-release show, the Klines will get back to doing comedy, of course. But they also look forward to dedicating more time to the band as things progress.
"We're always doing comedy around town. As for music, we rarely play out, so we're trying to play more live shows to support this album," Stephen says.
"We already have another album's worth of songs recorded," Michael says. "We're just going to keep writing songs and sharing them and increasing the number of people in our bubble."
The Poplar Lounge
Friday, June 1st
9 p.m., free
Also on tap for this week is the local full-band debut of on-the-rise artist Chris Milam.
Milam has been a fixture on the singer-songwriter/acoustic scene for the last couple of years, but Thursday's set at the Hi-Tone Café marks the first time he'll trot out his new, as yet untitled, backing band, which features Rainy Day Manual members Keith Pounds (bass) and Seth Hendricks (guitar), with drummer Corey Yoder.
"No name yet. Not sure if I wanna go the 'Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' route, or the 'Amy LaVere' route," Milam says.
One thing he is sure about, however, is that playing with the band is both informing his songwriting and directing his sound.
"I think more in terms of rhythm now," Milam says. "I wanna give every song a pulse. They're generally higher-energy, faster, more rocking. Solo shows can be a subtle, intimate thing. Full band, it's more visceral. I feel like a racehorse in the gate. I just want to go."
Milam plans to have the new band play around town for the next few months before recording a new album and then, hopefully, taking the band on the road.
"I toured 120 days last year and hope to top that in 2012," Milam says. "The record will be out this fall, and I'd love to support it with a full-band tour."
Chris Milam with the Bluff City Backsliders The Hi-Tone Café Thursday, May 31st
9 p.m., $5