Crandall asked me to write this story down for an FBM zine that came out a little less than a year ago. It’s silly….
Close to three years ago, at the X-Games in Los Angeles, we (myself, Mike Vincent, Steve Buddendeck, Mike Ardelean and Jim Bauer) attended a party on top of the parking garage at The Grove in Hollywood. The party was hosted by T-Mobile, with free drinks, gigantic swag bags and more than its fair share of B-List actors, pro skateboarders and Hollywood glitterati.
It took about 20 minutes to convince anyone that we (anonymous, plain cloths, non-famous people) should be at the party. Of course, Bauer knew someone who knew someone that worked there, and a few minutes later, we were in the party ordering drinks from the free bar behind Rick Thorne, pro skater Tony Trujillo, and random members of the hip-hop/pop fusion act The Black Eyed Peas (you know the song, “My Lovely Lady Hump….”)
We had already been drinking, a lot. As we neared the bar, the first person that catches my attention is Paris Hilton. I’m drunk already, and I barely even realize it when I say, “Hey, I heard you give bad blowjobs!” I was alluding to the poorly lit home porn movie that had just surfaced on the Internet, and the fact that she paid more attention to smiling at the camera than giving the blowjob in question. So anyway, Paris hears the insult, turns around looking appalled, then storms off with more attitude in her gait than all of Williamsburg put together.
At this point, we order more drinks. The first season of Entourage had just started and I immediately spy Adrian Grenier and the dude named E from that show, say hi and that I like the show. They actually thank me for the compliment and move on. Then somehow, a Snickers bar lands in my hand. I’m not about to eat it, but I make sure to hold onto it as I walk around the parking garage roof looking for more people to harass. The next person I happen upon is the bass player for the band No Doubt (the short darker-skinned one that used to date Gwen Stefani). Immediately, I hand him the Snickers bar and say, “Your band is good. Snap into a Snickers.” He grabs the candy bar, visibly confused, and I walk off before he can even ask what the hell I was talking about. Onward I go, drunken and oblivious.
At the other end of the parking garage roof, I spy someone whom I’ve long looked up to in Hollywood, since his debut in the John Cusack movie ‘One Crazy Summer.’ His name is Jeremy Piven, and you’d more than likely recognize him from his character Ari Gold on the HBO show Entourage, or his role as the Dean in Old School. He was also on Ellen Degenres’ TV show, and usually appears alongside John Cusack in most of his movies, including Serendipity and Grosse Point Blank. Additionally, he also starred in the B-List college comedy, PCU.
I’ve always envisioned Jeremy Piven as the ultimate underdog in Hollywood. He’s short, he was going bald (before hair implants) and he never really had a major role in a major movie, but he worked his ass off and turned all that around within the past few years. Now, he commands respect, and he was in the process of using that newfound respect to bed a young Hollywood blond when I happened upon him.
Immediately, he was not what I had expected. His button-up shirt was unbuttoned Don Johnson style, halfway down his chest, and around his neck, he wore a long necklace with a tribal emblem on it, kinda like something you’d buy on the boardwalk at the Jersey shore. He was putting the moves on this girl when I approached, visibly drunk. I grabbed his shoulder, pulled him towards me and said, “Man, you were great in One Crazy Summer.”
He looked in my direction, nodded with a quick “Thanks,” and turned his attention back to the girl.
“No, I don’t think you realize how important that movie was in my life. I mean, the way you told on John Cusack’s character while he was out with your friend’s girlfriend, it was amazing,” I reiterated.
“Yeah, I remember my part in the movie. Thanks buddy,” he retorted. He was shorter now, getting pissed at my drunken ramblings over a beach comedy from 1989 that he co-starred in.
I grabbed his shoulder again and said something about throwing meat on people in the movie PCU and how it was awesome, and then the girl motioned to walk away from him.
He now looked me in the eye as the girl walked away from him. “Thanks buddy, thanks a lot!” he shouted.
The girl in question disappeared into the party. I walked away from the heated discussion and watched the rest of The Black Eyed Peas performance with Rick Thorne. The next morning, I threw up in our sink at the hotel room.
Dave King was giving someone directions on the phone yesterday. Nothing out of the ordinary really. The guy he was directing was just outside of our house, one block over. And then Dave said this on the phone:
“Hope is an alley that ruins behind my house.”
In one simple statement of botched directions, he stated the truest thing I’ve ever heard about winter. So I made sure to write it down.
That’s is him, in the foreground, as shot by a one Steve H. Crandall last Wednesday.
There’s really no way to get around discussing Ris Paul Ric (aka Chris Paul Richards) without first mentioning his former band, Washington D.C.’s Q and Not U. Q and Not U existed for seven years and three albums under the Dischord Records flag, and then ceremoniously gave it all up in September of 2005, when the band accomplished all that they had set out to achieve.
The collective members of Q and Not U were never ones to rest on their laurels though, and even before the band was done, ChRIS PAUL RIChards had begun work on what would become his first solo outing (‘Purple Blaze’) with help from producer Tim Hecker. Richards had written the majority of the material on ‘Purple Blaze’ during some downtime, and just as the band decided to call it quits, the opportunity for Ris Paul Ric to move out of the bedroom and into the live forum arose.
Ris Paul Ric is not just a solo version of Q and Not U though. There are entirely new, unexplored forces at work in the music of Ris Paul Ric. Sure, the urgency, the rhythm and the vitality of Richard’s songwriting remains; only now it’s more hushed and lifting and contemplative.
In the simplest terms, Ris Paul Ris is the sound of an accomplished musician taking chances, moving in new directions, and doing his best to share it with the world around him. Q and Not U may have been an amazing musical experience, but everyone must ultimately move forward in life….
I’ve always felt that the crux of musicians pursuing new work prior to being in a well-known band is that it’s impossible for most people to accept the musician within the context of the music they’re currently writing. It seems like you’re going to be known as the “guy from Q and Not U’s solo project” for some time to come. Do you see that as a good or bad thing and why?
I don’t sweat it too much because by the end of our run, Q and Not U had started to earn a reputation for being somewhat unpredictable. Music has always been a liberating force in my life, so this is just another chance to throw expectations to the wind and do what feels right at the moment.
Your former band ended and it seemed like you went straight into touring and performing under the Ris Paul Ric tag. Where do you find the motivation to continually get out there and perform? Is it a habit at this point?
It’s hard to say if my desire to tour has become compulsive at this point, but I still really enjoy travelling, connecting (and reconnecting) with people outside of my daily life in Washington, and ultimately, playing live music. After loving the people close to me in my personal life, there’s nothing more important or rewarding to me than getting up and trying to communicate with people through these sounds. The exchange is a wonderful and mysterious thing that I really treasure.
I first heard of Q and Not U through a mixtape and an early live show. I first became aware of Ris Paul Ric through MySpace. What are your feelings on the drastic changes listening to music and even finding out about music has experienced because of new technology? How do we balance the perfect mixtape with the continual barrage of new music we experience because of technology like the Internet and file sharing? Don’t you like answering loaded questions?
Technology is constantly changing and it surprises me to see musicians panic in the face of it. Did the Beatles panic when music shifted from a singles-based market to albums? No, they made Sgt. Pepper’s. I think as we move back to a singles driven market, musicians are going to have to adapt, and ultimately, step their game up. The same goes for the heavier musical traffic running through everyone’s ears these days. It’s not like there’s more music out there – everyone just has greater access. So musicians have to make something even better, or more unique in order to get heard. I think that’s a wonderful situation for everyone to be in.
How do you approach writing Ris Paul Ric material, in which you are the only collective member contributing to the material? Is the process simpler or more difficult than writing within the context of a full band? You mentioned it being “more improvisational.” Is that a product of being completely autonomous within your own songwriting?
I think it is simpler, but there’s a lot more doubt involved. In the band, I felt like I needed my bandmates approval to validate any and all musical ideas – I really trusted them and ultimately, answered to our democracy. With this project I’m obviously free to do whatever I want, but I find myself cross-checking myself frequently to perhaps conjure the ghost of collaboration. It’s like any endeavor, really. Going it alone can feel both liberating and lonesome. That’s the interesting part about it.
What are you intentions with Ris Paul Ric? Will it grow into a full band or stay in the bedroom? What does the future hold?
I don’t plan to ever recruit backing musicicans for this project, but who’s to say? My friend Dan Caldas helped me out this summer, and while I really enjoyed playing with him, I think I get more out of this project from doing it on my own. But I’m scheming to form another band this winter, so we’ll see how working on this Ris music responds to that.
And finally, do you still dance when you play live?
Well, I peform standing on top of a Fender Twin Reverb combo amp. So I dance as much as I can without falling off.
For more information on Ris Paul Ric, log onto <http://www.academyfightsong.com>
I guess you need to be on a strict diet of TBS from 6-7 every night to even understand why…
‘Fragile’ Frankie Merman
(This first appeared in Dig Magazine issue #43.)
There’s a moment in the movie ‘Back to the Future,’ when Marty McFly grabs the guitar at the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, and starts rocking out to the tune ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ The music and the energy it created had not yet been experienced by the masses in Marty’s re-created version of 1955. Rock and roll simply hadn’t arrived yet. Chuck Berry’s cousin Marvin hears the commotion being played, and grabs a phone. He gets Chuck on the phone and says, “Chuck! Chuck! It’s Marvin — your cousin, Marvin BERRY. You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well, listen to this!” And Marvin points the phone in the direction of the music.
Though this may seem like a loaded introduction for a band with a loaded name and an even more loaded first album title, there’s a point to it all. When I first began immersing myself in the new These Arms Are Snakes album ‘Oxeneers, or The Lion Sleeps When Its Antelope Go Home,’ I experienced a reaction somewhat similar to Marvin Berry’s in Back To The Future. I started forcing the album down anyone’s ears that would listen. I wasn’t looking for the new sound that Chuck Berry was looking for, but I sure found it, and I wanted everyone near me to hear it.
‘Oxeneers…’ hit stores this past September. It’s pretty damn epic, full of huge guitar sound, scathing social commentary and concentrated aggression. Somewhere amid a loaded east coast tour, bassist Brian Cook took the time to answer some loaded and not-so-loaded questions for Dig. If you want in on the new sound of These Arms Are Snakes, samples can be heard at www.thesearmsaresnakes.org and www.jadetree.com. But don’t expect to see Marty McFly on stage with them….
What does the album ‘Oxeneers, or the Lion Sleeps When its Antelope Go Home’ mean to the band? What was the impetus behind it and what did you hope to achieve with the production of it?
Both titles refer to the general theme of the album. The whole record revolves around working shit jobs, doing the day to day routine, and trying to get by in the modern age. ‘Oxeneers’ is just some word we made up, mixing the idea of an auctioneer selling off his time, and an ox (or some other beast of burden). The second title comes from the lyrics to the last song on the album, and is a reference to the employee/employer relationship. We hoped that these titles would work together to create a somewhat basic depiction of the nature of man displaced into the current system of division of labor.
Thematically, someone in the band doesn’t like their current or former “day job,” as evidenced on ‘Big News’ and ‘Idaho.’ I was curious what jobs the band as a whole has had in the past and what was wrong with them, what the band currently does to pay the bills (if the band is not a fulltime job yet) and what the band thinks about channeling energy into a job that you may not believe in to pay the bills? And finally, what would your ideal job be?
We’ve all worked shit jobs before. Steve, our singer and the guy responsible for the lyrics, works at a check cashing/pay day loans place. It’s obviously not the most rewarding or lucrative career, and I think it also gives him a lot of inside perspective on other people who live with minimal incomes. I currently work part time at a teen center, and Ryan does freelance graphic design. Ideally, I think we would all love to make enough money off our music to not have to work, but we’re not even close to that point. I also think that we’re probably a bit too stubborn and obsessed with maintaining artistic control to cash in on the band. But… it would be way cooler to dedicate my time to the band, instead of some dumb ass job. But whatever you gotta do to get by is what you gotta do. If you have to cash checks for a living, what else are you gonna do?
OK, we’ll go from an overloaded question to a quick one now. Where did the band name arise from? And the album name?
The band name doesn’t mean anything. It’s a long, ridiculous name that we figured would stick in people’s heads. I figure, every band name is kinda stupid, so you might as well have a completely ridiculous one that sticks out.
How has the switch from 5 down to 3 fulltime band members affected the songwriting process, the live show and the touring process?
It hasn’t really had any effect on songwriting, because the three of us have been the creative force behind the band from the beginning. It just, sort of, makes everything easier to have fewer cooks in the kitchen, so to speak. It also makes touring and playing way easier. There’s less shit on stage to trip over, and there’s more money to split up. I don’t know how the Polyphonic Spree does it.
I did a search on TAAS and found a bevy of descriptions ranging from the old standby of post-hardcore, onto slithering post hardcore, and all the way up to metalcore fantasy rock. What’s the wackiest description the band has heard to describe the sound of TAAS? And if you were asked to describe the music and focus of TAAS, how would you?
Man, all descriptions are kinda embarassing. Post hardcore makes sense, I guess, because we’re all old hardcore kids, but I don’t know if we fall under the banner of hardcore anymore. Metal core fantasy rock just seems stupid. We don’t have any metal parts, unless of course, you consider Zeppelin to be metal core fantasy rock. Then we’re all about it. I usually tell people, “We’re just a loud, noisy rock band.” Or if the person I’m talking to is a little more hip or up to date on music, then, “We’re a loud, noisy indie band.”
Alright, so I’m watching the ‘Real World: Philadelphia’ on MTV, and the opening chords of ‘Gadget Arms’ come on when one roommate hears another roommate tell yet another roommate that the latter roommate spent $150.00 on a pair of jeans in disbelief. Said opening chords are ominous and demanding, but I can’t help but feel that they would hopefully elicit more emotion than that of roommate pettiness and jealousy. How does TAAS feel about being included within such a situation?
I just wish our music was played when the two dudes were hooking up in the shower. That way, whenever anyone hears the song, they’ll feel a strange stirring in their loins.
Finally, has anyone in the band ever ridden BMX?
No. I’m not coordinated at all. I once went to the emergency room after I ollied up a curb. The board flipped up and hit me in the head….
(This interview first appeared in Thrasher Magazine, Sept. 2005.) I updated the intro. And Beauty Pill’s self timer took the photo.
Beauty Pill was formed by Chad Clark, formerly of the wildly ahead of its time Smart Went Crazy. You might recognize Chad’s name from his production credits, which include The Dismemberment Plan’s ‘Emergency and I,’ Aloha’s ‘Here Comes Everyone‘ and the continued re-mastering of previously released titles from Dischord Records.
Beauty Pill began sometime in or around 1999, with a lineup that included Ryan Nelson (formerly of The Most Secret Method), Abram Goodrich (also formerly of Smart Went Crazy) and a mutual friend of the band, Johanne Gholl. They wrote and recorded one EP that was released as a split release between Washington D.C.’s Dischord and Desoto Records. The EP, entitled ‘The Cigarette Girl From The Future,’ would remain as the band’s only recorded output for quite some time. The band would also drastically change lineups within that purported downtime between writing new songs and recording.
Two years later, Beauty Pill’s new lineup featured Rachel Burke (vocals, wurlitzer), Basla Andolsun (bass), and Drew Doucette (guitar). Goodrich and Gholl had departed, while Clark and Nelson remained the driving force behind the band. With a new lineup and new intra-band chemistry in tact, the band released another EP for Dischord, entitled ‘You Are Right To Be Afraid.’ At around the same time that the EP was released, the band immersed themselves within the recording of their first full-length, appropriately titled ‘The Unsustainable Lifestyle,’ which was then released in April of 2004.
Things started changing quickly for Beauty Pill. What began as a side project for the members quickly turned into full-time touring and promoting their new full length. And then, the band went on hiatus again for most of last summer, followed by the departure of Burke. After Burke’s departure, Clark asked friend and recording cohort Jean Cook (also of Ida and Anti-Social Music) to join. Jean had no real band experience either playing keyboards or handling vocals, but seemed willing and eager to anchor down the drifting lineup of Beauty Pill. Tapes were exchanged, lines were learned and Beauty Pill was on course yet again.
That was two years ago now. In the time since, Beauty Pill basically disappeared. The Web site dried up and the band members seemed to be moving in varying directions. It looked like Beauty Pill was falling apart, and that feeling seemed even more real when Nelson left the band to puruse his own venture dubbed Soccer Team.
But he was eventually replaced by Medications guitarist/vocalist Devin O’Campo (whom played with Clark in Smart Went Crazy). And then the Beauty Pill Web site went back online, and then the band took over their fan run MySpace Web page, posting a new song alongside it. And then they even played a few shows here and there.
So not all was lost.
Describing the sounds of Beauty Pill is arduous. Tracking the history, ups and downs of them is a task. But falling in love with them, that comes easy.
First question, and I assume this should go to Chad. Could you explain the history of Beauty Pill. I think it’s been through quite a few chapters already?
CHAD: It’s not a very interesting story. The band has always been a group of people orbiting a central set of ideas. To pursue these ideas, I have always sought a certain degree of innocence in my collaborators. I don’t hold “expertise” as an important value. I believe in the word “amateur” and I don’t think it’s a shameful word. “Amateur” means one who does it for love of the process. Abram had never played drums before “Cigarette Girl.” He was a bassist and we put him on drums! None of the three women (Joanne, Rachel, and now Jean) who have sung in the band ever sung in a band before. Jean was best-known as one of the world’s best violinists before Beauty Pill, and we have yet to use any violin in our music! We asked her to sing! And it worked out: Jean’s singing gets stronger and more authoritative with each passing day. When he joined the band, Ryan played a drum kit with no toms, largely because he didn’t think he was any good at drum rolls. In the process of working around this limitation, he came upon a style that is all his own and is very difficult for conventional drummers to emulate. As for me, I can’t play normal chords on the guitar, and my voice has a permanent and inescapable sandpaper effect built in. I found a style within those limitations. In varying degrees and in varying respects, the people in the band are just intuitively musical people who have approached the art from the standpoint of innocent discovery.
I think you can learn a lot from getting lost.
Second question, and this is for both of you or either. The Beauty Pill website states that “There is no ‘The’ in the name.” Yet I’ve seen Beauty Pill at North Six in Brooklyn three times, and each time, it’s listed as ‘The Beauty Pill’ on the show schedule. What gives? And is there any secret behind the band name, or is it just part of the equation to get out there and play music at this point?
CHAD: There is a significant difference in feel and intent. Try it out on any band you want. Change Tortoise to The Tortoise. Change Minor Threat to The Minor Threat. Change Public Enemy to The Public Enemy. Or try it the other way around, subtractively. It’s a small detail but it affects the meaning and the impact.
In my mind the name was supposed to evoke corporate culture. Like the name for a pharmaceutical brand. It was gently satirical, a little bit sinister. It was sort of political commentary. This origin gets obscured with the addition of the word “the.” The name “The Beauty Pill” evokes some kind of silly Alice-In-Wonderland kind of idea. It sounds kind of storybook; it’s almost cute, almost neutered.
Interestingly enough, this happened often to the band Talking Heads. People kept calling them The Talking Heads. It irked them to the point that they titled their first live album “The Name Of This Band Is Talking Heads.” I have often considered a similar title…
JEAN: There are a lot of details to work out between clubs and the bands around a show. How to spell the name of the band probably doesn’t come up that often. To tell you the truth I’m not sure if the name of the club is NorthSix or North Six or Northsix. So I’m just as bad as they are I suppose. But yeah, thanks. Next time we play there I’ll put a call into the club and ask that they leave the “the” off. Maybe that will help.
Third question, and this one goes to Jean, but feel free to join in Chad. Jean, you’ve only recently come to play in Beauty Pill. How did that come about? Was it difficult to step into a defined position and redefine it? Have the dynamics changed within the band because of the switch?
JEAN: Late last summer I was driving home from Rhode Island where I had just recorded some ideas for a duo project with Chad. He called and asked if I’d like to sing for Beauty Pill cause Rachel was moving to Seattle. We talked it through and it sounded like it might be fun. I met with Basla, Drew and Ryan and we all seemed to get along. We played some shows. It was pretty great.
Was it difficult to redefine the lead female singer position? I don’t know. I learned to play keyboards and sing and play frypan, which is what Rachel did. Some of the things that are different are practical. My vocal range is higher than Rachels so I had to rework how I sang some of the songs. Some of the songs Rachel used to sing that were easier for Chad to sing, he picked up. I picked up a few that Chad sang.
DREW: I think we’re a lot more organized with Jean. It seems like there is more organization and order because Jean is a super computer freak.
JEAN: Well we definitely have to pay more attention to things like scheduling rehearsals since I live in a different city. And apparently before I joined the band, Chad was the only one with his own computer. So now twice as many people in the band – nearly 40% of Beauty Pill – care if we can find a wireless network on tour. Since I joined we started doing more band business via text messaging – CC is the only one that doesn’t text. Oh, and I believe I tipped the Buffy quotient. We are now officially a Buffy-watching band.
CHAD: There is no other human being on earth like Jean Cook.
Fourth question, and I think this might go to Chad. I believe you said during one Beauty Pill show that you perceived the band as asexual. I’m not sure if you actually used that particular word, but your point was that you felt that each Beauty Pill song should be able to lend itself to either male or female fronted vocals without altering the state of the song. Why do you feel this way, and do you additionally think it’s important to be a part of a band that is comprised of both males and females? Jean, feel free to add to this as well.
CHAD: I think the word “asexual” sounds kind of sexless, like denying sexuality. I guess I’d prefer “pansexual,” encompassing both genders. ‘Cause I think Beauty Pill is sexy… that’s certainly one of our agendas. This gets into a tricky area — ascribing traits to genders — but I do feel that one of the things Beauty Pill stands for is championing female energy in punk music. We believe in strategy and seduction and detail and grace as tools for subversion, in lieu of brute force. That being said, feminine energy does not only come from women. And masculine energy does not only exist in men. That’s about as far as I can go into this topic without opening up a sociological debate that is beyond the scope of a rock band interview.
JEAN: The experience of hearing both me and Chad sing two versions of the same song doesn’t just have to be about gender. (Says the small asian woman who sings the song about going to prison instead of the big black guy on the other side of the stage.) We also sing about smuggling drugs and killing celebrities. There is an element of fantasy and detachment that has to do with heavy yuppie concerns like urban alienation and existential crises – and these elements weave their way through our songs in a very non gender specific way. Rush hour traffic, a bad night at a club, and a nervous breakdown don’t strike me as particularly male or female experiences. Whether Chad or I sing a particular song – sometimes it’s a choice. But a lot more I think it’s about what’s going to sound good on a particular night.
Now that I think of it, it’s not just Beauty Pill, but I can’t actually think of any songs out there that can’t be sung by both a woman and a man. Can you?
CHAD: That’s a good point.
DREW: I’ve really enjoyed playing in bands with males and females with Beauty Pill in the last three years. It’s important to have boys and girls in the band. Basically because music isn’t gender based and it’s nice having females in the group having two different sexes in the band because it’s showing people that.
Beauty Pill seems to be a big part of each band member’s lives, but I’ve noticed that each band member’s involvement with Beauty Pill is just a small part of a larger musical lifestyle. What other musical endeavors are each member of Beauty Pill involved in? And why do you feel it’s important to explore musical avenues outside of Beauty Pill?
DREW: Right now Beauty Pill is my main thing. But it’s important to pursue other musical outlets because they will at least for me funnel into what I’m doing with the group.
JEAN: My life before Beauty Pill (aka before September last year) was playing violin with a lot of very different groups, which I continue to do as the BP schedule allows. Everything I listen to and everything I play informs where I end up musically. And I value the relationships I have with some of the amazing musicians I play with. I’ve learned a lot from them. So I continue to learn from these experiences and people. And Beauty Pill benefits.
CHAD: I envy, for example, Jean’s ability to shift around and adapt to different situations. But I spend a lot of time shoveling coal into Beauty Pill’s furnace and don’t have a lot of time for other pursuits.
Number six, and this a lyrical question. Chad, I’ve noticed that you sometimes have a knack for writing about people as defined by their occupation, and the unusual situations that arise because of it (Lifeguard in Wintertime, Mule on the Plane, I think it even arose in Smart Went Crazy a few times). Is this an acknowledged pattern or something that’s sorta just happened?
CHAD: That’s a really interesting observation. I think that’s one of the smartest questions anyone’s asked me in an interview and I really don’t have an answer. You get a gold star.
Number seven, inter-audience dialogue between songs. I had only seen the band twice with Rachel, but from what I can gather, it seems that the dialogue between the band and the crowd has increased tremendously since Jean joined. Why do you feel it’s important to interact with the crowd during shows? Is it an icebreaker, a chance to briefly relax between songs or a concerted effort to break the boundary between the band and the crowd?
CHAD: Jean and I are such obviously different personalities that the contrast is good fodder for comedy. I think that every conversation between Jean and me could be a script for a four-panel comic strip. Seriously. So I think sharing this with the audience is a good way to pass the time while tuning the guitar. It’s nothing more thought-out than that.
JEAN: Except for the parts where I do research on demographic and political breakdowns of the counties we play.
DREW: Oh yeah. And the question and answer sessions.
JEAN: Sometimes I’m curious about BP audiences. Why do they come to shows? What do they want to know about us? The answer is always different at every city. It’s more interesting than coming up with a story or a bad joke to tell onstage. I’m horrible with bad jokes.
OK, we’re almost done. Sorry to drag this out. Future plans for the band. What’s gonna happen, what’s already happening? What would you like to see happen?
CHAD: I want the next record to be saturated with color. Hot, fresh, and electric. Phillip Glass with dilated pupils. That’s what I want out of music these days.
JEAN: I think we may have to get a new van. I’d think I’d like to look into one of those luxury jobs with cruise control and power locks.
DREW: Can we get tinted glass too?
CHAD: True psychedelia.
For three years, the collective members of Young Widows existed as the sound and force behind Louisville’s Breather Resist. Breather Resist was a powerful and vicious outfit, combining winding guitars with hoarse vocals that landed their live experience somewhere between a more visceral Deadguy and Jesus Lizard. Breather Resist enjoyed quite a bit of repute throughout their existence, releasing one full-length album and an 8-song EP, along with a handful of singles, while touring with luminary bands such as Converge, Burnt By The Sun, Pelican and These Arms Are Snakes.
But in December of 2005, Breather Resist quit breathing and ceased resisting when the band parted ways with vocalist Steve Sindoni. However, the remaining three members (Evan Patterson- guitarist, Nick Thieneman- bass, Geoff Paton- drums) continued practicing and writing new material through the Winter, with Evan and Nick writing lyrics and sharing vocal duties. In April of 2006, the band entered the studio with Louisville pal Chris Owens (Lords) engineering, and recorded 11 new songs. But the trio’s resulting songs was definitely not what anyone, be it fans or the band themselves, was expecting. This was something completely different. And it was definitely not Breather Resist by any stretch of the imagination. Enter Young Widows.
According to Patterson, “We decided it would be unfair to keep the name Breather Resist due to the fact that Steve [Sindoni] is no longer in the band and what we have written now is not Breather Resist. It’s something else. So we have left the name behind…. [The music] is definitely an extention of Breather, but we were headed this way regardless of member changes and name changes,” he adds.
Sonically, there are nods to the trio’s noisecore-inspired past, but Young Widows navigates a more direct route between early Touch and Go fury and Slowdime-era D.C. dissonance than before. “We were surprised at how different the new sound was actually,” says Patterson. Where once there was discord, there is now balance. And this is unswervingly evidenced on ‘Settle Down City,’ Young Widows’ introductory release for Jade Tree.
‘Settle Down City’ sidesteps pre-conceived suspicions while maintaining the scathing tone of shadow’s past. Young Widows does take time to employ the unsparingly heavy clamor of their former musical identity, but the resulting 11-songs that of ‘Settle Down City’ are more akin to Hoover or The Jesus Lizard than any previous exploits of the band. The sound and subject of Young Widows is more vexing; the overall tone, more dissonant. Taking cues from the repetitive rhythms of Shellac and the more urgent moments of early Unsane or Hammerhead, ‘Settle Down City’ combines liberal amounts of mercurial anger with bare introspection to create a bitter new take on tension, release and resolution.
For all intents and purposes, Young Widows is technically 75% of Breather Resist, but the similarities between the two bands terminates there. Breather Resist is now the past; Young Widows, the present. The future, well, that’ll come soon enough…
It’s a new design; Alfredo, Shad Johnson, the Wendy’s hamburger and the cleavage are all gone. None of those images had any relevance anyway, I think it was just Jamie having fun with random images.
So yeah, new site, same motivations. And the ability to add photos of whatever the heck I feel like adding. Like this one, made possible by a permanent marker at a high school in suburban New Jersey.
And oh yeah, you should look at this site in Firefox, not Safari. It just looks better that way.
Jamie McParland labored hard and long over the new site design, so thanks to him.