Ryan Benton says his band is ambitious. After all, their first piece of work isn’t just a set – it’s a musically diverse array of five different songs that all flow seamlessly into each other. It is, in Benton’s words, a 45-minute song.
Benton is the guitarist for Convolve, a Tuscaloosa-based band composed of three UA students and one recent graduate that plays a style of music with influences ranging from Queen and Dream Theater to Muse and 1940s jazz.
Three of the band’s four members are in math or science fields, and the band’s name comes from their scientific background, Benton said.
“Convolve is an engineering term that means you mesh two very different signals together,” he said. “We came up with it because we mesh two very different sounds together.”
Benton and Tyler O’Brien, the band’s drummer, both cite Dream Theater and other progressive rock groups as major influences. Alex Buhlig, who plays bass, prefers metal. Wes Shaw, who sings and plays keyboard, draws his keyboard style from Muse and his vocal style from John Mayer.
As each of those influences started to show, each part of their 45-minute song began to get more distinct. The first time they played together, Benton described them as a metal band. Now, Benton wouldn’t even categorize Convolve as metal anymore.
“We’re slowly moving from all minor chords to some major chords,” Shaw said.
Convolve formed when Buhlig and Benton wrote a song together in April of 2010. Shaw joined in August 2010 when he, by chance, sat next to Benton at a football game. They had known each other from being in the Million Dollar Band together freshman year, and Benton said he was looking for a keyboardist and a singer.
Shaw responded with “Well, I can do both,” and joined the band.
O’Brien, who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering last year, joined after the other three members posted an ad for a drummer on Craigslist.
“He was pretty much exactly what we were looking for,” Benton said. “When we met Tyler, he said his drum kit was small. Then he comes in with five toms, 15 cymbals and an industrial fan blowing behind him.”
Convolve played their first show in April, a battle of the bands at Zydeco in Birmingham, Ala. They won.
After that, they played what Buhlig calls the “hole in the wall” show at a bar in Tarrant, Ala.
“I thought that place was going to burn down,” he said. “There was a power strip plugged into a power strip hanging down from the ceiling.”
Now, Convolve is planning a concept album to follow up their current material. As their style develops, Benton said the music should be more accessible than most progressive rock is.
“We have a lot of hooks and phrases that people should really be able to enjoy,” he said.
Convolve will play Green Bar with Young///Savage on Oct. 27. Doors open at 9:30 p.m., the show is only for those ages 21 and up and there is no cover.
They also plan to do a live recording of the show.
“Considering we’ve only been a band for a year and we can play that much of only our own music, I’m pretty proud,” Benton said.