When asked to describe the sound of After-Death Plan, the Columbus songwriting duo of Lesley Ann Fogle and Constantine Hondroulis call it “American Gothic Nous Rock.”

“We put the ‘American Gothic’ on it because when you hear the word ‘Goth’,” said Lesley from within their home studio in which we met, “all kinds of music that we are not about comes to mind. The ‘American Gothic’ has a much cleaner, haunted vibe to it.”

The term “Ethereal Noir” was the first thought that came to my mind upon listening to the entire album in the first sitting. They have a brooding and vintage feel, although not dated, to their sound that is very aurally pleasing.

Released in January 2017, Literature is the debut release from ADP, and is filled with songs that were inspired by or dedicated to various authors and books. Their sound would fit rather nicely on the early 4AD-era label. The reality is that their sound has a timeless quality to it.

Image courtesy of After-Death Plan
Image courtesy of After-Death Plan

You may be under the impression that ADP is new, although it’s really an extension of the Chicago-based music collaborative Mal VU that Lesley had for 20 years. But, the nine songs that fill Literature are not as dark as their work with Mal VU.

“It’s really just a name change,” Lesley said. “While I was there (Chicago), I had access to a studio and spent most of my free time in it. I just brought in as many musicians as I could. Since I moved here (Columbus), we still have the spirit of collaboration. I eventually want to get back to having the same sort of thing.”

Lesley is classically trained as a singer, songwriter and audio engineer. Constantine hails from the underground rock scene in Ohio. He is also currently playing bass with Ohio stalwarts Earwig.

The list of authors and books that inspired Literature is cerebral. The spirits of Mikhail Bulgakov, Fyodor Dostoevsky, Robert Burns and Bram Stoker all inhabit parts of the album.

It’s an ambitious take on the classics, but begs the question of did the songs come first? Or, did they retrofit the songs to fit the music?

“I would say it’s probably both of those things,” Constantine said.

Lesley added, “On some of the songs, the music came first and the lyrics were fit in.”

One very familiar feeling upon hearing the track The Sea & Earth Gave Birth To Wonder is that of riding a merry-go-round. Albeit, riding one late at night with very scarce light, surrounded by haunting shadows.

“That was one of my favorite lyrics (to write),” said Lesley, “because I had been reading a bunch of Scottish stuff. It’s some of my favorite writing, being pretty concise, lyric-wise.”

Image courtesy of After-Death Plan
Image courtesy of After-Death Plan

“My brother George (Hondroulis), wrote the chord progression on the piano organ,” Constantine added. “So, he wrote that and we kind of built on it.”

Ed. – George Hondroulis currently plays drums for Columbus-based Lydia Loveless and played drums on three tracks on the ADP album.

Another stand-out track from the album is Raygun, with its lush harmonies and plaintive yearning for something better from the document our nation was founded upon. Dedicated to the Constitution of the United States, they enlisted Nikki Wonder (Bloodthirsty Virgins) and Lizard McGee (Earwig) to give the song a ‘full’ vocal sound.

“Nikki I knew from when I went to school (in Columbus),” said Lesley. “I brought her here to the studio in Chicago the first time she ever sang, for a Mal VU track. She’s got a very collaborative spirit, too.”

Not wanting to have their music pigeon-holed into one narrow sound, the duo constantly look to innovate their sound. Literature appeals to a broad swath of musical tastes, for sure.

“What’s interesting about this album is that even our dentist likes it,” said Lesley.

Although the album was just released in January, they already have 20 new songs laid down, but not tracked-down. They would tentatively like to release a new album in 2018.

As for taking ADP and playing live shows, Lesley said, ” We really want to do that. What we have to do is find people that ‘fit’ for us.”

“They need to make sense,” added Constantine.

After-Death Plan‘s Literature is an early contender for any “Best of” list, and should be in everyone’s collection. It’s easily the album most-played on repeat in the Music in Motion Columbus office.

We are eagerly anticipating the debut live performance from ADP, sure in the knowledge that it will be just as pleasing as listening to the album.

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