Without a Face embraces the Midwest

The one-man band will play at Mojo’s on Tuesday night.

Henry Dillard, also known as Without a Face, opens for Ludo on Aug. 21 in front of Memorial Union. Without a Face will be performing Tuesday at Mojo's.

Last month, MU got a taste of the musical stylings of Without a Face at the Department of Student Activities sponsored concert, where they opened for Ludo. The band has found some local popularity.

“The Midwest area has been better to me than my hometown,” Without a Face front man Henry Dillard said. “I can’t quite put my finger on Columbia. There’s something special to it.”

Without a Face wields a strong stage presence, manipulating the audience to experience the lyrics. As an ensemble of one, Dillard captures the listener on a larger scale, perhaps more than possible for a fully backed band. Dillard works the setback in his favor, creating something fairly unique in the music business.

“Tim Convy (of Ludo) was saying he thought my voice was like a weapon in a way because I can bring out ‘good singing’ when I want to, but sometimes when you have a beautiful tone of voice the lyrics can fly over people’s heads,” Dillard said. “So I feel like I have to be more abrasive sometimes.”

His songs, which are often humorous, are based around characters and subjects rather than the composition of the noise. Still, deep insight is hidden beneath the brash but pleasant vocals. Dillard disguises his intentions beneath the childish but fun character he creates for himself within his music. There are more serious songs than not on his new record, The 1st Album Was Better, but you wouldn’t know it from first glimpse.

Without a Face was not always a party of one, though. Before the release of the first album, Worst Debut Album Ever, the band consisted of five members.

“We had a lot of serious songs when we were a band, but the first record I made had a lot of sardonic humor,” Dillard said. “Obviously (the music) is now acoustic, but on top of that, the spirit became quirky. I have written tons of serious songs, but I just wanted to have fun. I didn’t want to give away anything too personal.”

The second record is less quirky than the first, but perhaps more entertaining. Where the first record can be seen as a novelty, the new one, released in August, is a minimalistic hodgepodge. It is slower than the first, more energetic, album.

“I certainly wanted the next record to be more like the first one, humorous and fast,” Dillard said. “It took me a while to decide if I even liked the new record. Now I think I’m very happy with how it turned out. I was convinced that it was a wise decision to go for something different. My intention is to never make the same thing twice. I think (the second) record is more fun to listen to for some reason.”

Without a Face is a weird whimsical ride, chronicling Dillard’s maturation over time. It is inevitable that Without a Face will continue to develop its music in new directions. The band’s name even reflects the evolving nature of the music.

“When I had more band members than just myself, the idea (behind the band name) was that we cared more about the music than our image,” Dillard said. “Now I like to think it means I don’t have a musical identity. I can make an electronic album if I want to. I would love to make a rap record, but I don’t see it happening anytime soon.”

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