Ricky and Terrin Riemer had never met when they each moved from Milwaukee to Madison in 1994. They eventually came to have something in common - O'Cayz Corral.
Ricky played gigs at the now-defunct music venue on East Wilson Street with his band, Transformer Lootbag. Terrin came to see his shows. A few years later, they were married and had a baby together.
Then they moved into a house northeast of Madison, in Columbus. "Our son was always a good sleeper," says Terrin. "So we would go down to the basement at night with some wine and just play music together."
Terrin played bass. At the time, Ricky would accompany her on drums. "The songs we made down there became our first record," says Ricky.
After a while, he adds, "We had enough songs to play out." His & Her Vanities was born.
This Saturday, Oct. 17, His & Her Vanities will release their third album, The Mighty Lunge, with a show at the Frequency. The CD, five years in the making, is a collection of eight well-honed indie-pop songs that showcase the Riemers' perfectionist approach to making music. "At the end it was like, 'We've got to get it done this year or it's never going to come out,'" says Terrin.
The Riemers' influence on the Madison music scene this decade has been greater than the output of their band. Ricky maintains a recording studio, Science of Sound, in the basement of their home. Science of Sound is also the name of the couple's upstart indie-rock label.
It's an enterprise they've kept small, focusing energy on a handful of their favorite local bands. For the fortunate few the Riemers embrace - bands like Sleeping in the Aviary, Pale Young Gentlemen, Whatfor and Icarus Himself - their support is extensive.
"That's the fun part of the label," says Terrin. "We've become really close friends with Sleeping in the Aviary. Booking tours and putting out records for a band that is touring - it's not living vicariously through them, but it's exciting to help somebody do what you always wondered it would be like to do."
The Riemers' band is a hobby, says Terrin. "Where we are in our lives with kids, we can't hit the road anytime soon. But it's something we can't let die. It's something we love to do."
His & Her Vanities is a quartet that also includes Sara Quigle and Matt Abplanalp. Quigle was part of an all-girl band, Sailor Harlette, in high school. That band was based in Verona. Abplanalp played in Transformer Lootbag with Ricky. He also moved here from Milwaukee in the '90s. "Part of the reason we came here was to be part of the Madison music scene," says Ricky.
The new disc is 30 minutes of catchy indie-pop built on extended guitar riffs that create an impressionistic vibe. The vocals add to the ambience by frequently bleeding into the music without distinction. Single words are often spread across more than one musical bar.
The album sometimes addresses the subject of one's place in the body politic. The song "New Designs," says Terrin, "is basically saying that the only thing you can attempt to have control over in the world is your own mind."
Now that the Riemers have finished their Mighty Lunge, they're already looking forward to the next one. "We really want to have another record out within a year and a half," says Ricky. "We already have some new songs for it."