April 28 2010 12:00 AM

High-strung rock with hooks

Specializing in paranoid, progressive pop music is not an easy job — just ask songwriter Chris Baratono, the high-strung founder of Narc Out the Reds.

Baratono (guitar/vocals) started writing songs for the band in 2004, during the end of a three-year stint of hard living in Memphis, Tenn. During his time in the South, he penned most of the band’s material.

The end result? A set list sounding like The Pixies high on speeders.

Those frantic thoughts and guitar licks can be heard on the newly released EP titled “Narc Out the Reds … Are On the Run” (GTG Records), the band’s debut release.

The band, which also includes Ben Southwell (guitar), John Miller (drums) and Terry Pearson (bass), is writing new songs and has new records in the works.

Here is what Baratono had to say about his band. whose website is www.myspace.com/narcoutthereds.

What’s the story with the new EP?

It’s just a five-song teaser for the upcoming full-length. It’s just me doing almost everything, but I can’t play drums so Scott Bozack, who also recorded it, played drums. Isaac VanderSchuur (The Hat Madder) played some guitar on it and my friend Dave Brunger added some slide guitar. I just started layering. I wanted to make a nice headphone record that also rocks. It’s a caustic-sounding pop record. It has a nervous feel to it. But they’re still pop songs that you can sing along to.

How did the band come together?

I wrote and recorded all the tracks before I even played a show as Narc Out the Reds. But I’ve had a solid line-up for a year now, so I thought I’d mix, master and release the songs. Right now, we’re writing new songs and the band is getting set to record two songs with Jim Diamond (Detroit producer) in August. Those will go on a 7-inch record. It will be my first vinyl, which is on the bucket list.

How do you approach songwriting?

I don’t write formulated pop songs. I want them to be unique; I would call it progressive pop. The whole thing about Narc Out the Reds’ sound is this stutter/stop, paranoid-sounding pop music with a lot of dynamic shifts and time signature changes, but it’s still really hooky.

Which do you prefer: recording or playing shows?

I have hatreds for both mediums to some extent. I’m such a high-strung person when it comes to that stuff.

It’s very frustrating, anxious and nerve-wracking for me to record, and I am similar at live shows.

I’ve tried to take a chill pill and enjoy it, but I am a bit of a prima donna in both realms. Or maybe I’m never happy until I’m miserable? You have to be a special person to tolerate me sometimes.