Playing in a touring band was never in the cards for Restorations. After post-hardcore outfit Jena Berlin split up, Jon Loudon and Dave Klyman were content to release music independently, without any expectations. Though they played a handful of shows that were marked by bodies flying and arms flailing, goaded by the energy emanating from the stage, Restorations were meant to be a project in which the five members–guitarist/vocalist Loudon, guitarist Klyman, keyboardist/guitarist Ben Pierce, bassist Dan Zimmerman and percussionist Carlin Brown–would come up with songs, record them at their leisure and be done. As a new band with members in their 30s, they preferred to stay close to home to foster their relationships and the rigors of their day jobs instead of worrying about the rigors of the road.
Yet after the release of their debut album, LP1, in 2011, which was lyrically mature and sonically ambitious, the band's profile started to grow beyond what they expected, and they inked a deal with Los Angeles' SideOneDummy Records in 2012.
"It happened so fast for us, after such a long period of absolutely no one caring about it all, that we're still all sort of in shock," Loudon says while throwing clothes and touring essentials in a suitcase. "We're really lucky that someone we knew passed it along to them when they asked for new music suggestions. . . . It was pure luck, and it was awesome."
Despite their apprehensions toward touring, they slowly came to grips with the idea that playing live was a necessity. Following the release of the critically acclaimed LP2, the group went on their first extensive tour in Australia and the U.K. before returning stateside.
"Every time we go out it gets a little better," Loudon explains."People know that it's kind of hard for us to do since we're a little older and we get busy. . . . But playing shows to that many people out of town is really, really exciting."
Now on their third album, aptly titled LP3, Loudon couldn't be happier about how it turned out. The record shows a more polished, muscular band willing to embrace a more anthemic sound, a departure from their hardcore roots. Working with in-demand producer Jonathan Low (War on Drugs, Strand of Oaks), who also happens to be Loudon's roommate, the group fused elements of anthem and '90s indie-guitar rock, while also drawing upon space rock and stoner metal. The beauty of Restorations, Loudon says, is that the band aren't married to a particular style, which allows them to cohesively explore sounds they may not have tackled in an earlier incarnation.
"At first, when you're working on a record, you think it sounds like everything else you ever have done," he explains. "By the end of it, you're like, 'This is dark; I hope people like this.' This one in particular struck us as being heavy and a bit dour."
But Loudon is more optimistic about Restorations than he's ever been. Even though his fatalist Philadelphia nature looms–as reflected in Loudon's beloved Flyers this season–it can't derail what has been an unexpected journey thus far.
"Everything is running on the same page at the moment," he says. "All of the stuff we've been working on for the past decade or so finally all snapped into place, and it's really beautiful."
Restorations perform with Cheap Girls at the Constellation Room, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana, (714) 957-0600; www.observatoryoc.com. Fri., 8 p.m. $10. All ages.