As an undergraduate at Brown, Michael Hughes '04 concentrated in history and took classes on topics as varied as visual art and colonial Latin America. These days, he's in a band called The Deadly Syndrome, which will release its second album, "Nolens Volens," on March 23.
Hughes and bandmate Jesse Hoy first began playing and writing songs together about four years ago, when Hoy's girlfriend at the time — now his fiancee — introduced them, Hughes wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.
Hughes credits Hoy as the band's organizer — he had written songs with guitarist Will Etling when they were at the University of California at Santa Barbara together, and the band's fourth member, Chris Richard, was Hoy's co-worker. "Before we knew it, we were all in a ‘band,' " Hughes wrote.
"If (Hoy) hadn't come along, I'd still be making songs on my laptop, for no one," he wrote, "or I'd be a stock broker or some terrible thing, and have millions of dollars."
Originally, the band signed with Dim Mak Records and released its first album, "The Ortolan," in 2007. The record received positive reviews from a variety of newspapers and music magazines, including the Los Angeles Times and Pitchfork Media. It was even reviewed positively by Les InRockuptibles, a French music magazine.
Over the past four years, they've toured parts of the country with bands such as Hot Hot Heat and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.
Hughes described the band's influences as wide-ranging, including rock, classic rock, punk and "glitchy electronica."
"Whatever serves the songs we are trying to write at the time … it's important not to feel limited by defining yourself within a specific ‘genre,' " he wrote.
He also described the band's stylistic evolution over time. Initially, their sound was largely influenced by folk music, but over time, they "began incorporating more electronics, ambient textures and harsher tones," he wrote.
Hughes credited a computer music class he took with Barry Moon, a former visiting professor, with first inspiring his love for music.
Most recently, the band played a show Feb. 19 at the Beauty Bar in San Diego. According to Hughes, the stage at the Beauty Bar is outdoors, and the cloth covering the stage is not completely waterproof. It rained during the show, which caused their equipment to become wet during the opening act, Hughes wrote. "We dried it off as best we could, turned it all on, played the show and didn't get shocked and die, which I think … makes the night a success."