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    This World Fair

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    Plastic Soul lyrics
    2San Francisco lyrics
    3This Morning lyrics
    Don't Make Me Wait lyrics

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    A college degree in Industrial Engineering seems an unlikely path to a career in music, but talk to This World Fair co-founder Chris Kalgren and it all makes sense.

    Music became the Minneapolis native's salvation from the intense rigors of academia at the University of Wisconsin, especially as he began seriously to doubt his chosen vocation. "I played guitar all the time in college. It was a great release for me because engineering is pretty dry and super intense. I'm self-taught on the guitar. You figure it out because that's what engineers do. They pick things apart, figure them out and then they make something."

    Sounds like what This World Fair does. Through its accessible guitar-driven melodies and well-crafted lyrics, Kalgren, co-founder/bassist George Hadfield, and guitarist Zack Carroll provide a road map to travel the emotional terrain that exists between people. "That's what I care about the most," says Kalgren, who co-writes the band's material with Hadfield. "I get most of my lyrical inspiration from relationships, failed relationships or relationships where I was extremely close to somebody and one of us moved away. Moving in and out of people's lives. I write about loss more than anything. There is a separation process and everybody deals with it in their own way. I just deal with it through songwriting. I heal well through that."

    Hadfield and Kalgren create in many different ways. "I'll bring in a melodic idea or a chord progression to Chris and he'll add to that or the other way around," Hadfield says. "Sometimes we'll just sit in a room, start from scratch and jam until we find something that clicks."

    Kalgren himself describes the band's sound best: "We're the pop side of rock and the rock side of pop." One listen to This World Fair's self-titled album and it's clear the definition is just right. Kalgren's smooth voice has just enough rough edges to demand the listener's attention. Opening track "Can't Stop Falling" shimmers with a certain urgency, while the irresistible "Drama" pokes good-natured fun at a girl who just can't help herself when it comes to being the center of attention. The gorgeous "San Francisco" is ushered in by strings that give the song an epic quality.

    All draw from Kalgren's past, as does "Seven Letters," a tale loosely based on a past relationship. "She and I parted ways and I thought it would be a good idea to write her some letters and tell her how I was feeling." He cryptically adds, "It turns out it wasn't really a good idea at all. It was one of those things that wasn't going to work out, but it inspired some really cool songs."

    Kalgren formed the band upon his return to Minneapolis after graduating from University of Wisconsin. He posted an ad on a local website and the first two respondents became the original guitarist and drummer. Both have since left the band, but not before the drummer brought in Hadfield.

    Unlike Kalgren, who didn't pick up a guitar until he was 17, Hadfield has been immersed in music since birth. "Both my parents are musicians. The basement was the music room. We had the drum kit and all the guitars down there. I'd always just play with my brother and be writing and just jamming out." Hadfield started with piano, then added guitar, then bass, which he studied at the McNally Smith College of Music in St. Paul, Minn.

    After dismissing the notion of calling the band Kalgren ("We wanted to be known as a band and not just Chris and some guys," Kalgren says), they made a list of 300 names and This World Fair stuck. "We like the fact that fair can be a carnival and fair can be fair vs. unfair and dark vs. light," he says. "We liked that the title itself can be open to interpretation."

    This World Fair was discovered on myspace.com by the girlfriend of their now manager Stephen Short. An EP's appeal and the band's touring chops—they play more than 100 shows a year and are now booked by CAA—piqued the interest of several labels and on Dec. 22, 2005, the band signed with Rethink/EMI.

    The band selected producer Al Clay (The Pixies, Blur) to make the album after meeting with more than 10 choices. "We were looking for chemistry," Kalgren says. "It was just such a great, organic, emotional connection. He was very song focused as are George and I."

    While in the midst of making the new CD, This World Fair's profile got a major boost with inclusion of its song, "Don't Make Me Wait" in DreamWorks spring hit flick "Disturbia." "They sent us a scene from the movie and said 'write a song under it and here's a melodic cue for the score,'" recalls Kalgren. The kicker? The band only had 12 hours to pull together the tune because of recording commitments. "We were leaving for L.A. the next day," Kalgren says. "We pulled an all nighter and George and I wrote the song. Sometimes the muse shows up and sometimes it doesn't."

    With a finished album and a song from a hit movie behind them, the band can't wait to tour nationwide. It recently played a series of Midwest club residencies in Chicago, Minneapolis, Toledo and Grand Rapids.

    "Building a new fan base is just the best part about the residencies," Hadfield says. "As for touring in general, I love the excitement of being in a new city every day."

    Kalgren agrees: "Playing live is like a drug. You're allowing something to flow through you and you allow yourself to be in the moment. It's its own feeling, it's unmatched. Being with the guys and having us be tight as a unit is really a treat. My favorite part is allowing myself to not think, just be. There's nothing better than that."

    While the engineer in him would surely disapprove of such a notion, the musician is applauding loudly.

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