Schema guitarist and synth player Adam Coyne quietly remembers the band’s old days with an inflection of dry humor. “We had this empty space to throw parties and play music and teach ourselves how to be a band,” he says. “It was good to practice on a bunch of drunk people.”
The group’s earliest incarnation was as a progressive jam band, where they garnered a small following before an extended hiatus in the middle of the decade. The band stayed silent until 2017, when new drummer JP Treadaway tried to book Schema for a show at the Pour House. A connection was made, and very shortly after, the band was alive and gigging once again.
Although there’s plenty of reminiscing about the long, strange beginning of Schema, the band describes their new music as a “different animal” this time, almost creating a new start.
Fans who remember Schema prior to the hiatus will spot any differences between the original jam sessions they were known for and the new EP, simply titled Schema.
“It’s the best thing that we have yet to date for people to listen to,” offers Coyne. “It sounds nice and full and I think it represents our music to what we’re really trying to aspire to be. We get to add a little bit more layers to it in the studio and a little bit of extra flare to it.”
The group took their usual groove-centric formula, with bassist Matt Jackson and guitarist Ryan Bresnihan returning to hold down the fort, but they have expanded the sound with added synths and drum pads.
Treadaway says that the band is “trying to stay up with the progression of the music in our scene and just trying to make a bigger, fatter sound.”
The cornerstones of Schema’s sound stayed intact over the years, but with the maturity that time naturally gives. “I like our compositions more, nowadays,” says Coyne. “They’re a little bit more thought-out and I think our show as a whole has become a lot better and tighter. We just plan it out better.”
The EP was recorded at Fairweather Studio, with Terraphonics guitarist Thomas Kenney acting as producer, beginning a list of surprising collaborators, including rapper Damn Skippy, who rhymed over “Sizzlin'” from the new release.
According to the guys in Schema, Damn Skippy was a fan of the group, attending several shows in a row, and becoming an occasional participant. Coyne and Treadaway say that the rapper performed a couple of Dre and Snoop songs with them live, before putting his original words over their music.
At the EP release, Robotrio will open the show, Schema will take the stage to perform their originals, and then the two bands will combine like Voltron to play a set as RoboSchema.
“I love when bands team up and play shows together because it’s always interesting to see what each of their dynamics kind of bring to the table, together,” says Robotrio organist Ross Bogan. “That’s the cool thing about the jam scene we’re in: it’s always really collaborative. There’s a lot of sit-ins and what not.”
Coyne claims that the collaboration between the two groups was a long time coming. “A lot of random people were suggesting it,” he says. “Like, ‘Y’all should play together.’ People at the Pour House would come up to me and go, ‘When are you doing RoboSchema?’ It was already a name.”
This will be the second time the two bands have done a live performance together. Bogan describes the music and song choices this go-around as different, but not a wild reach. “With this one, we’re starting to go more of a dance, almost disco with the cover choice,” he says.
In addition to the two namesake bands, RoboSchema will be joined by Doom Flamingo vocalist Kanika Moore and See Water’s Sam Roberts on percussion.