Just the two of 'em: Shayne Soderstrom, vocals, guitars, synths, programming and drum machine; John Crayon, vocals, guitars, synths and various keyboards.
CD: The Uncanny Valley (LP, Go Fidelity).
What's the Uncanny Valley? "The Uncanny Valley was a theory that was released in a book by the same name by a Japanese roboticist in 1970," says Soderstrom. "It basically says that when something is synthetic, people will respond positively to its human traits … At that point, the unnatural things stand out more than the human traits do. When you graph out the response, there's a sudden drop. That's called the uncanny valley. I found that the concept applies to more than just robots or computer-animated people. People will respond to electronic music if you add just the right bits of organic sounds. I used the uncanny valley as sort of a guide when recording the record. One song (Letter to an Autopsy Surgeon) was originally very much a rock song, but it just wasn't coming across right. I made it a bit more cartoon-y, which made the sounds more obviously synthetic and let the voice balance out the organic. It ended up being one of my favorite tracks on the record."
Timeless pop: "Well, we really try to focus on melodies first," Soderstrom says. "Typically, everything will fall into place around that. We're both a bit obsessed with the '60s and '70s, so using modern instrumentation helps to keep things from sounding too dated."
Walking against the wind: "For the most part," Crayon says, "our performances use the same instrumentation. Obviously our recordings involve a lot of overdubbing, but in performance we do our best to fill out the sound with harmonized guitar work and waaay too much echo. Shayne also programs a few little things into the drum machine — the bass line on Crocodile Fears, for instance — but most of our performance is absolutely live. This surprises people sometimes. A guy at our last show didn't believe we actually played all of the synths and guitars onstage. Apparently we're decent mimes."
Tampa sweethearts: They say they have special love for Tres Bien!, Win Win Winter, GreyMarket and Inertia!
Their relationship: "We live together," Soderstrom says, "So we do hang out by default, I suppose. Seriously, though, we used to hang out even before we were in a band or lived together. ... We've always been friends, and I think I can honestly say we have a unique respect for each other that enables us to do what we do."
Outside the band: Crayon is studying toward his master's degree in American studies at USF. Soderstrom has plans to get married in August and go back to school to be a teacher. They have a cat named Leila they found in a stump.
If they scored a cartoon adventure: "Anything involving Batman," Crayon says. "Actually, if it was a Pam Grier cartoon, I'd rather do that: Coffy: The Cartoon. How awesome would that be?"
Soderstrom: "Definitely Batman!"
Hear 'em: Sat. 10 p.m. Dead Maids and attachedhands at New World Brewery in Ybor City. $6. (813) 248-4969.