The Polyphonic Spree began July 15, 2000. Since then they have traversed the globe several times over (including appearances at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, Oscar de la Renta Fashion Week Runway Show, MTV Video Music Awards, Glastonbury, Summersonic, and various late night TV shows) while receiving accolades, adoration, and even a few imitators. What many outside of Dallas are unaware of is the band's annual Holiday Extravaganza which is celebrating its 10th year this December.
Almost as if inexplicably guided, Tim DeLaughter (founder of The Polyphonic Spree) had the foresight to put on a holiday show after being a band for only five months and without recorded music released. A labor of love, the Holiday Extravaganza has only missed two years (due to impending births within the band) since 2000.
The show features a holiday set from the band as well as a traditional rock set. The do-it-yourself variety show has also included zoo demonstrations, break dancers, children singers, comedians, improvisational comedy troupes, freestyle rappers, traditional bands, bell choirs, a Charles Dickens-inspired play with The Polyphonic Spree serving as the actors, and tap dancing grandmas. The theatre is hand-decorated by the band and its fans, a live reindeer and sleigh are out front for pictures with Santa, and an accordionist plays outside around a campfire for fans as they enter the festivities.
Mr. Claus, Frosty, Rudolph, and other holiday guests are on hand to greet people as they arrive and to serve milk and cookies at midnight to conclude the show. Throughout the night it snows within the theatre. Santa takes to the stage to read "Twas The Night Before Christmas" prior to The Polyphonic Spree's holiday set, and invites children up on stage to participate in the performance. The band also collects toys and canned foods to benefit Toys For Tots and the North Texas Food Bank respectively, as a small way of giving back to the community.
Last year, via Tim DeLaughter's own Good Records Recordings, the band released an original holiday song, "It's Christmas," digitally as well as on a 7" limited edition vinyl release. Entertainment Weekly put the song in their Must List: The Top 10 Things We Love This Week section.
It has been Polyphonic Spree's intention since the inception of the Holiday Extravaganza to release a holiday album This year, to celebrate the 10thyear of the "Holiday Extravaganza," the band will finally release their first volume of holiday songs, titled "Holidaydream."
Tim DeLaughter says "Holidaydream" can be played all year round: "We wanted to make a record that has the sentiment of the holidays without the melodic connotation telegraphing the obvious. We took many of the standards that we all knew and loved as kids and rewrote the music and melody to give them a 'new' life while leaving others somewhat true to form. By doing this, it gave us the freedom to explore the realms of those lyrics and sounds we've been hearing all these years. It was a very satisfying experience for us as we delve into some beautiful sonic landscapes that we really love. I think the subject of Christmas/Holidays resonates differently for everyone. It's not across the board 'happy' time for all. It can be melancholy and a time to reflect. This is where I think we succeeded. We created a listening experience for a beautiful time of the year, that doesn't require you to embrace the holidays with a forced sense of being. I guess what I'm saying is, it's OK if you've been naughty, we're not gonna punish you. We're only human. Happy Holidays! Ha!"
Logistics and scheduling had prevented the release of a holiday album until now. The Polyphonic Spree entered the studio in June 2012 to record "Holidaydream: Sounds of the Holidays Volume One" with Eric Drew Feldman (Captain Beefheart / Frank Black / PJ Harvey) along with The Speekers (Julie Doyle & Tim DeLaughter) at the helm. While recording was taking place in Dallas temperatures surged as high as 110°. The band offset that by wearing Santa hats and adorning the studio with Christmas lights and snowmen, to get in the proper spirit.
Julie Doyle further elaborates on the process behind the recordings: "We opted to dismiss any and all pre-production and just go with it. It was a refreshing way to work. We started day one with just a few of us. A single note on a mini keyboard prompted Tim to recreate the melody for Winter Wonderland while the rest of us improvised music around him. That pretty much set the tone for how the session would flow. You will find quite a bit of variety on the album. The most interesting part of the process was all of the different pairings and dynamics of players and instruments, and getting an opportunity to create music in a fashion that had not been done on past Spree recordings; deciding on the spot rather than planning exactly who would play what on a particular track. A room full of various equipment as well as a plethora of instruments were available for each member of the band to act spontaneously over the course of the two week session."
"Holidaydream" is not your typical, by-the-numbers holiday collection. The music within is magical, otherworldly, and at times somber. The songs captivate as they float by. A few of the songs have alternate melodies and truncated lyrics but maintain the timelessness and sentimentality of the song. A holiday tradition in the making, "Holidaydream" will appeal to fans of all ages.