Dallas’ symphonic vocal group takes on the sassy, cross-dressing camp of ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’
RICH LOPEZ | Contributing Writer
Halloween may be over, but the horror isn’t totally gone. Grandiose local “vocal group The Polyphonic Spree bring their trippy and uplifting touch to of the camp classic The Rocky Horror Picture Show, performing songs at their Halloween Hootenanny. But for band member Bach Wilder, the Spree’s openly LGBT member, the show is another chapter in what already appears to be one hell of a dream job.
“We’ll be out there in fishnets, and [founder] Tim DeLaughter will perform as Dr. Frank-N.- Furter,” Wilder says. “There are a lot of people in the band who play different characters, so that’ll be a lot of fun. And it’s a great way to spotlight the talent of the different individuals.”
Wilder holds down the piano parts for the show as he does in the band and will contribute to backing vocals and harmonies. He calls it a “supporting role,” but in the Spree that’s a curious term. As part of a 20-member collective, the Spree is less of a band or even a symphony and more of a living organism that almost seems to serve a bigger musical purpose.
Wilder wants to be sure that people don’t misunderstand that — particularly his queer community. Identifying as pansexual, Wilder points out that despite the white robes and feel-good music, the Spree isn’t some proselytizing sect of musicians. Quite the opposite.
“When you identify as queer, what that means is a lot of people want to judge you in a negative way, but what we do is find joy in a community and embrace terms like that as a badge of pride,” Wilder says. “That underlying positivity is ingrained in this music is undeniable, and if you let yourself feel what we’re giving you, let yourself feel that joy, makes you want to give it back.”
Proof of that comes from a particular show while on tour in Europe recently. With a crowd getting too excited, Wilder says DeLaughter had to stop the show to calm people down.
“He told the audience, ‘We’re gonna take care of each other,’ and the energy just changed. Instead of the mosh it was becoming, 4,000 people were in their seats jumping in unison! It reminded everybody that we are a community,” he says.
A relative newbie to the Spree — he joined in March — Wilder admits to being on a thrill ride from the get-go. He has toured in Europe, Australia and Asia and across the country in support of their newest CD, Yes, It’s True. And with his degree in bass, performing as the keyboardist provides an empowering kick for the multi-instrumentalist. His short tenure has provided a series of firsts — touring on an actual bus, having his own bunk, performing for a 10,000-plus crowd, played Bonnaroo and visiting different parts of the world. But he’s also realized something about himself: That it’s OK to be open about who he is.
“This is the first time I’ve talked to the press about this. I had to think about doing this interview before talking about it, but it’s a step,” he admits. “I feel like I’ve come to that place and made peace with any negative influences and have forgiven those people. Now I just want to repay that with love. I’m grateful to have that pansexual perspective. There are so many degrees of gender and sexual identity out there, but no one should ever be ashamed.”
Where some confuse bisexuality with bisexuality, Wilder explains as a pan, his attraction isn’t split among demographics.
“I can understand shortcuts to narrow down to just men or women or whatever. I mean, we’re on this earth for a limited time, but I like to think that I’m open to 100 percent men, 100 percent women, 100 percent trans, 100 percent androgynous. I’m just open to love,” he says.
Wilder brims with enthusiasm for the upcoming performance. “Hearing what we do with those songs, I feel that we’re gonna rock it a little harder,” he says. “Our band is a wonderful bridge between symphonic and rock, and this will be an amazing and special night. This isn’t something we’re going to do forever.”
The Rocky Horror songs will be followed by a set of Spree favorites, then culminates with the theater’s usual midnight screening of the film.
“The energy in that room when you fill it with people and the Polyphonic Spree onstage will be unlike anything else,” he promises. “With the sheer magnitude of what’s going on, we break down that fourth wall between the audience and the band so it’s an amazing thing to see it live.”
And Wilder seems to have gotten how to add a bit of — wait for it — anticipation.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 1, 2013.