The Gaskets 

Building a Bond

The Gaskets have distilled synthesized dance pop to its elements: two guys, a couple of mics, and the Yamaha Midi Sequencer, a box of knobs and keys that power their sound. This has been the formula since the two started playing in high school, then while playing open-mic nights at Matt's Village Pub a few years ago and releasing their first album, "Big Fun," in 2001.

When they start talking about the problems they've had along the way, problems that aren't yet resolved, Harman gets quieter, saying, "When something happens to me that's bad — whether in the band or personally — I get disheartened." His drinking has been a source of tension for the band, threatening to cross that fine line.

On "Big Fun" they wrote songs about lifesaving rock stars, cigarettes and high-five greetings. For their new album, in production with Dave Lowery, Blanks writes about the end of the world, which sounds all the more ominous when it comes bouncing and squeaking out of the sequencer. His songwriting has shifted from the early days, which he says "were all about the girls I dated." Harman talks about "looking at something that could be dark in a clever way," indicating that time and turmoil have blackened their humor a bit.

And when they get on that narrow stage, they change, too: Blanks' timidity vanishes as he throws his hands in the air, writhing to the first beats out of the box. He struts and parades, he howls, he pulls his shirt off, channeling Jagger. Harman, meanwhile, works the controls of their apocalyptic pop, smirking at some private joke. — Brandon Reynolds

The Gaskets' new album is planned for release in the fall. They play at Nanci Raygun May 18.

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