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In the name of prog rock

Age of Fable prepares for its album release show

By Rachel Sankey

Age of Fable is made up of band members (from back left) Chris Rugowski, Melanie Riley, Katelyn Werner and Dan Riley. The prog rock group will perform at the Lyric Room May 27 for the release of its concept album, ‘Modes of Persuasion.’ Submitted Photo

Progressive rock, or prog rock, is a music genre the band members of Age of Fable have come to know very well.

“Typically, when you refer to something in music as progressive, it ties along with it being experimental,” band member Katelyn Werner, said. “So we sort of push the envelope a little bit… we play with structures, we play with chord progressions and we play with timing.”

Age of Fable, however, didn’t start out as a prog rock group, or even with four members, for that matter.

Partners and original members Chris Rugowski (vocals, guitar and mandolin) and Melanie Riley (vocals, keys and mandolin) said they started out back in 2013.

“It started out as an acoustic folk duo,” Rugowski said. “We had no idea that it would turn into this. Melanie’s dad kind of challenged us to play a show. And I was itching to play music. We did the show, it was really difficult because it was two hours and we had to stretch it.”

From there, Rugowski said Age of Fable was born, but it wasn’t long before the acoustic folk duo headed in a different direction.

“Then, we transferred to electric, because we had a gig and my acoustic wouldn’t work,” he said. “It changed the way that I approached the band because I was like, ‘Wow, we can make the songs on electric.’”

In 2019 Werner joined Age of Fable, and shortly after in 2020 Dan Riley, Melanie’s brother, joined.

Even before Dan joined the band, Werner and Melanie both said he was very involved in Age of Fable.

Melanie said adding members to Age of Fable was never a set decision, but instead progressed naturally over the years.

“It was kind of like puberty,” Melanie said. “We got bigger and bigger and we didn’t realize it until someone said, ‘You know, you need a metal drummer.’ And people kept saying things. They noticed we were growing.”

When it came to picking out a name for a band, Rugowski said Age of Fable had a nice ring to it.

“Years later I was like, ‘Why do we keep getting compared to a book?’ I had no idea that I got the name from the book” he said. “It’s stuck.”

Though the name happened by coincidence, Werner said the name fits the band’s music well.

“A lot of the writing is influenced by telling stories and fables and stuff like that,” she said. “The portrait Melanie and Chris are able to paint, you know, lyrically is just astounding, that that sort of art form takes place.”

Rugowski and Melanie said they are very different songwriters, but the difference benefits the band’s music music and prog rock roots.

“I’m more of a collage-r when I’m writing songs,” Melanie said. “Things will pop into my head when I’m driving or at work, and then I’ll come back to them later.”

Rugowski, on the other hand, said when he writes songs they typically come to him on the spot.

Age of Fable playing at Keggers’ back patio. Rachel Wolfe-Micek Photo

The concept album

On Friday, May 27, Age of Fable will perform at the Lyric Room for its album release, Modes of Persuasion.

Dan said the concept album is named after Aristotle’s modes of persuasion: Pathos, Logos and Ethos.

“I think a concept album – whether it’s like a really specific in your face theme, or like an umbrella theme – connects every song in an album, some way or another,” he said. “A regular album is when somebody has a bunch of songs about things separate from each other. There was no intention to have anything connected. It’s just to write an album and put music out there. Whereas Melanie and Chris had an idea. They saw Aristotle’s modes of persuasion, were like, ‘Well, we can relate to this.’ Let’s write songs about all three of these.”

On top of creating the album, Rugowski said the band has made everything themselves as much as they can – from pins, shirts and CDs – in order to save money.

With the release date coming up quickly, all four band members said they are most excited for the product to be done, and to be able to share its final form.

“I’m super excited about (the album), because I feel like we went through the history of it and I think I always wanted something like this in my life. The sound we have now I’m really proud of,” Melanie said. “I’m really happy that we have Katelyn and Dan on board, because I didn’t think we’d ever achieve a sound like this. It’s better than I ever dreamed it would be.”

Tickets for the release show are $10 and available for purchase at Keggers for those 21 and older.

The prog rock jams start at 8:30 p.m.

Rachel Sankey is the associate editor of Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at [email protected].

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