As soon as opening track ‘Billy Morris’ takes off you know exactly what you’re in for; quirky indie pop that makes you nostalgic for those late 90s/early 2000s obscure power pop and lo-fi label albums you were obsessed with but no one else seemed to be… And as expectedly unexpected in the lo-fi pop genre, Sing More Songs About Failed Utopias goes on a non-linear journey from that k records naive international pop sound straight through to the more recent experimental college pop like Alex G. Brilliant yet entirely unassuming lo-fi pop gems sparkle so brightly you almost cry when the harmonies are off key or there’s so many over the top saccharine sweet instruments added you know this will never be on the radio or most likely, anywhere other than a sad sad site like Times Boredom.
The ‘House of Tomorrow’ band is made up of some of the usual suspects of local musicians and scenesters; Kim Tateo (from Machine Revival), Brady Potts, Connor Amrbruster (an accomplished up and coming solo performer in their own right), Dan Prockup, and our good Superdark buddy (and good sport) Christopher Brown. It’s not clear who plays what, but knowing something about these kids most of them are pretty good at just about anything they pick up. And if there’s something else familiar about these kids that you just can’t put your finger on, you may have seen them (esp lead Nathan Meltz) in previous groups ‘The Machine that Wouldn’t Die’ and ‘Machine Revival’, or other similarly named quirky pop projects that have been playing around the Capital District for a number of years now.
The House of Tomorrow (in clever playing card form)
But let’s get less clever and do a more descriptive dive into the weeds if we must… must we? We must
Track 2 ‘Zion’ is to put it bluntly a brilliantly crafted pop gem. Like better than Sufjan Stevens. We hope it’s been submitted to college radio stations (if not take note here guys; this could be bigger than Alex G. Seriously). Though also to be blunt members of the Church of Latter Day Saints may very well not appreciate its rather flippantly wry portrayal of its… free loving founder….
And the standout track by far is #3, Themyscira. That off kilter (possibly off key; I can’t tell because I don’t have perfect pitch but I do have perfect OCD for an unbearably catchy hook) harmony on ‘reTURN to us’ could quite literally make Mr. Meltz a number one artist based on that note alone. And it stays with you after the album is over, and it will make you want to listen to the whole ep again. And then it will haunt you until you listen to it so much that you don’t know why it calls you in the middle of the night but you MUST listen to that cute little line about how Diana should ‘reTURN to us and leave the world of dicks behind’… you get the point. It’s fuckin catchy.
And if that weren’t enough, there’s the the surprise ‘Planet of the Apes-Man’ where I hope (I hope I hope) they’re exhibiting the influence of listening to way too much of the lates sixties/early seventies Kinks concept albums… it really does have that (forgive me if I’m repeating myself) naive underground pop music base that comes from groups like the Kinks that completely moved on from what made them famous yet delighted a loyal and changing fan base, in a way that I’d really like to think of Nathan Meltz and um, House of.. hm sounds like either they are a cult like the Polyphonic Spree or they’re making fun of a cult group like them — again let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and say it’s mockery. But all in good fun!
But… it’s not all clever indie transcendence… Not all of the melodies are as fantastically catchy as Themyscira. And perhaps it should be pointed out that if you like your lo-fi indie a little more punky or hard edged this isn’t a record for you, the only edges are the interesting twists taken with pop hooks and ‘fa fa fa fa’s’. But it’s definitely worth a listen, and it portends potentially great things in the future provided mssrs Meltz and co. keep it up and fight the good indie pop fight… we’re certainly looking forward to hearing more and love what has developed from the early days of the Machine that Wouldn’t Die to this terrific new incarnation of Nathan Meltz and the House of Tomorrow!
Somewhere in the oughts indie rock/pop lost its way. It became a shadow of whatever was on the radio in terms of production, and more and more like 70s soft rock in overall sound and mood.
The tragedy is not only the early but the late 90s offered so many avenues indie could have taken. Lo-fi to slowcore, math rock to the quirky off kilter rhythms and melodies introduced by the likes of Rob Crowe in San Diego. And we’re just talking about the softer end of rock and the more melodic edges of pop here.
But the publications of the day heralded the coming of the old age. The new Eagles and folky singer songwriters… the shit.
Fortunately for those of us that follow underground music, there’s plenty of great stuff that went the other way, the good way. At their core that’s exactly what Milwaukee’s Brief Candles (https://briefcandlesus.bandcamp.com/) represents. Lo-fi aesthetics, jarring rhythms, catchy crooning and just the right amount of guitar effects. Somewhere between groups like Verses and Heavy Vegetable that we all kinda forgot about; and of course the influence of that never gets tired of recycling shoegaze from Manchester.
There’s some Brooklyn hipster sounds in there, but out of a genuine love for the music that Brooklyn seems to be getting so wrong these days. It’s all grounded in more of a we love guitar music and everywhere it can go; whether it’s simply a really high strung bass line that makes an entire song or Television like interplay of guitars. And, of course, if they’re named after the Zombies song I think they are, they’ve definitely got their references in order.
See Brief Candles tonight at No Fun with Brooklyn’s (yech! jk — or are we?!) Dead Leaf Echo, and Brent Gorton’s Better Pills (https://betterpills.bandcamp.com/album/blood-chant) — if you don’t know who Brent Gorton is, get your ass down to No Fun and find out because he’s a brilliant indie pop legend here in the Capital District and arguably THE best songwriter.
At the top of the bandcamp page for Karen & Peter’s ‘Aggro Dolce’ album is a video. It’s a 32 second clip of the 5th track ‘Weekend in the Berkshires.’ And it’s a perfectly apt sample of the entire record. If you like it, you’re gonna love the album. If it doesn’t do it for you, none of the songs, the sounds, or the spoken word poetry vocalist Karen Schoemer is famous for are going to reach you.
The clip is so bleak and creepy, so seemingly random and filled with mundane stream of thought observations… a series of random fuzzy high art images flash slowly, almost painfully, and then a face appears within the haze. It’s Karen Schoemer, New York punk poetess of the 21st century, monotonally berating you in a calm and measured but almost unbearably intense, direct manner. She’s staring right at you. Speaking right to you. Seeing right through you.
If you’ve heard any of Schoemer’s other projects (our local favorites Sky Furrows perhaps or her collaborations with Watt, Wreckless Eric, Amy Rigby, etc.), you’re going to recognize her inimitable vocal stylings and post-beat post-punk poetry. If not, the calm and placid monotonal stream of consciousness utterings covering over an ocean of endtime anxiety that run throughout the entire course are evocative of other NYC punk princess poetesses’ we’ve compared her to before like Patti Smith and Kim Gordon.
But this album is very different from everything else I’ve heard Schoemer involved in because of the post-rock, classical music/sound collages under the vocals. The free synths and white noise so perfectly encase and are used as a vehicle for her idiosyncratic vocals, both of which complement each other to such a great degree that they enhance one another in a way hereto unheard of. Which, if you’re used to Schoemer’s other projects, is a shock to the system. Even she admittedly states she’s in unusualy territory here, as on ‘En Hiver “it’s unnerving. The way these songs change. No rhythm tracks in the snow. No marks. No measures. The hillside strangely empty of drums and guitars.”
And yet the minimalist ambience created by Peter (Taylor)’s anxious, existentialist soundscapes speaks of a spirit so kindred to Karen’s vocals that’s even further increased by seeing his artworks juxtaposed with her written poetry in the liner notes (who knew that recorders in this century were still using every piece of the artwork and space available to them to express themselves?). And yet, according to the liner notes, they’ve never met! Peter is living in a region of England scarred by coal mining and asbestos contamination. Karen, as far as we know, is in the gigantic brownfield that is the American post-corporate Capitalist scape (“woods without squirrels or insects”) of the ‘Empire State’. In which case it makes a great deal of sense that 2 artists that have never actually met are completely ‘in tune’ with each other, like the ‘special relationship’ between the trappings of the old Empire and the New, which is now also slowly but surely crumbling and decaying. Perhaps if they were to meet it might actually spoil the bond that clearly exists between them on the record — in any case here’s hoping they continue to collaborate from their eerily similar home spaces (anyone that’s worked from home with colleagues knows what I mean and the shared feelings you experience regardless of distance, time, or space), joined by the toxic leavings of the hands of unimaginably powerful, irresponsible men that have destroyed our worlds.
In case I haven’t made this clear, this is NOT happy or light music in any way. It is DARK and it is HEAVY. And it is repetitive and pointless and anxious yet calming and 20 months pregnant with the suspense of 7 civil wars that could start at any moment, ‘just a shot away’. That’s the mood it paints, and that’s the mood just about everyone’s in right now whether they admit it or not. The radio plays ‘pop tones’ while a hellish backlash Presidency that nearly reignited the same stupid Civil War we’ve been passively aggressively fighting for over 150 years was interrupted by a global pandemic thrown into the powder keg that locked us in our miserable homes where we hate and plot against our neighbors because THAT’S WHAT STRONG PEOPLE DO in America according to the television shows we binge watched while at all costs we told ourselves REMAIN CALM REMAIN CALM REMAIN CALM.
It sounds calm; this is what calm sounds like. Peter Taylor’s synths, found sounds, and the very occasional/rare crack or pop that heralds some kind of a beat — it’s a circle of hell. It sounds like a slow boil off the entire surface of the ocean while Karen whispers in our ear calmly, “100 men flayed raw…” and then something about the Velvet Underground(?). “This road wasn’t here. This valley wasn’t here. The stream became a reservoir. The flood came down the hill past the Catholic Church. This was a stream. It shouldn’t be a lake!”
I completely understand it and yet I don’t. I don’t know what we’re supposed to do. I know we have to stay calm and tend to our mundane little lives in the midst of indefatigable and unstoppable global change and misery.
This is not only the soundtrack of our lives but inside our MINDS right now. Somewhere between a late Scott Walker track and an ambient Eno airport scene about to break into a Wolf Eyes nightmare at any minute. And Karen keeps whispering in our ear… over our “Weekend in the Berkshires”; “don’t drink the water… species crash disturbs the unintended garden… no sense of space under there… just cement, on dirt, the weather warm and strange. Sweating no longer cools the body — are you coming over after band practice? Are you ignoring my texts?
God, it’s only Tuesday.”
This is a perfect descriptive piece of art, the ‘soundtrack of our minds’ for anyone in the old Empire living through 2022. Our stupid lives, childhood traumas, pointless adult lusts pulsing through the bleak soundscape of the hypnotising hellish (or calming, entertaining bread and circuses depending on how you look at it) soundscape that keeps us stable and sane enough to say ‘everything is alright… enough’. But it sure as hell is not. And this photorealistic capture of this moment in time of the collective unconscious is what art SHOULD BE.
Damn those blatantly superficial radio songs that are clearly designed to put us in a buying mood and out of our existential, nihilistic anxiety about the present and fuck me do I NOT want to even THINK about the future. That’s what the people are listening to because that’s what’s being aggressivley marketed to them without mercy. But Aggro Dolce by Karen and Peter is what’s really going on… in our world, in our minds, defining new sounds and a new form of music for the post-post modern age. It’s found sound collage and ancient beatnik poetry and sadcore that’s accepting of and refuses to be terrified by the current age but accepts it as it is. It’s as bleak and hopeless as it gets.
And it’s the most transcendent piece of art I’ve heard in decades, pointing THE WAY FORWARD for genuinely artistic, expressionistic music in the new century and beyond
Super fun surf indie rock band The Sugar Hold (was forced to) made a deal with the Troy Chamber of Commerce following last night’s unbelievably exciting and entertaining (without so much as a hint of irony) set at Brown’s Brewing Company for the Bacchanalia fest.
“Basically we were told that we were making the, um, surrounding not quite as fun and less hardy partying local Troy arts, music and entertainment scene a bit um, paler by comparison?” explained lead singer/guitar player Mikey Baish. “We certainly didn’t start with the intention of being the most fun, entertaining, unstoppable good time had by everyone at all of our shows but we sort of can’t help it… we just make fun music that we love, we love what we’re doing and everyone can tell and they in turn love it so much they have such a good time and… it’s not our fault. We’d try to tone it down but honeslty, who would want to have LESS of a super rockin time?”
“We just can’t help it that we’re having so much damned fun up there these days unlike other groups and scenes from the past that we don’t really fit in with anymore.” chimes in drummer with variable yet always entertaining head and facial hair shining local personality John Olander (srsly dooders in like 20 bands, has 12 jobs and can be found anywhere a party with music is going on yet is ALWAYS partying and smiling). “I mean I used to play in a band called Che Guevara T-Shirt that, let’s face it, was just plain wrist-slitting metal. Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it or any of the other groups around that still do that kind of stuff, but we are kind of heralding in a new era with groups like the Hold on Honeys, and earlier but still partying Haley Moley, Architrave, Haunted Cat — just too many to name (shouts Olander as he shoves a grinder into his mouth no doubt the first chance he’s had to eat in days) that are just plain unironically entertaining and joyous!”
“It kind of started when Haley Moley, Architrave and other bands led and or inspired by Paul and Jen Coleman’s indomitably positive, optimistic spirits changed the game by instead of making the kind of depressingly heavy industrial music of say Che Guevara T-Shirt or k. Sonin that made people leave, they played fun danceable but still in depth underground pop music that inspired all of us to stop being so ‘cool’ and pretending we were having such a crummy time and admit that we were having lots of fun and wanted the audience to have lots of fun too!”
“I think we just started experimenting with the idea that local independent music can just be a really great time” says bass player Matt Malone who was also in superdepressing suicide inspiring group Che Guevara T-Shirt at one point; “and then I guess we went too far. Because there are so many so much great but dark in depth groups that are around, the Troy Business Council has informed us there have been several formal complaints about how hard it is to get crowds in now that people can, instead, go to see the Sugar Hold and others that shimmer and shine and are unashamedly loved to party and have a good time! We didn’t realize it was such a novel concept, but it turns out that since the late seventies groups that earnestly and unashamedly have a great time haven’t really been featured in local scenes. And of course back in the early 90s with the advent of grunge it was literally made illegal to rock and party as hard and have as much of a good time as we’re doing now.”
Lead guitarist Dan Clark unfortunately did not comment because I’ve never met him IRL and I wouldn’t even deign to do any kind of impression whatsoever, however, everytime I’ve seen him play he does look like he’s having a great time and rocking out just like the rest of the band.
There’s still great fear however that even moving the Sugar Hold over exclusively to the party zone won’t stop what they’ve started. It turns out the germ of the idea that making great fun music with a bunch of your friends to entertain your other friends has taken deep roots in Troy and beyond.
The Sugar Hold was just one of the thousands of groups of terrific local musicians that played this weekend’s Troy Bacchanalia and changed the face and expectations of what an upstate end of summer festival could really do to reinvigorate, enliven, and even reinvent the core of what an upstate city is all about and the great things that come out of it!
This will be part 1 in our 67 part series on the Bacchanalia fest in Troy the Year of Our Lord 2022 and its lasting effects on the ecology, wildlife, and business climate of the city that Uncle Sam built dancing on his two left feet and the Capital District beyond…
Every good record should hold the elusive concept of the Yin and Yang; the soft and hard; the quiet and loud (or in this case, the loud and the LOUDER).
Despite Terralite and Iudica’s (the band that singer/guitarist Brian Michael and drummer Nate Fidd were previously in) aversion to acoustic guitars, they do venture into more pop balladeering on their debut record as Terralite.
But then again perhaps it’s unfair to judge their work based on any previous effort under their previous Iudica label…
But what is really different about Terrallite compared to Iudica? There was a different bass player, and now there’s another new one.
More significantly in terms of the overall sound, band dynamic, and potential dissociative identity disorder is new member Thom Grover, who is taking on increasing songs as the lead singer and songwriter. This as opposed to Brian Michael who clearly appears to be suited to be band leader, steering the ship unapologetically.
While Grover’s voice is getting stronger, and his songs (if they are his creative babies completely) are showing more dynamics than Iudica songs, Brian Michael’s writing is still more confident and demands more control.
While the majority of the songs on the record are good, and, more than ever before — groovy, the thing that stood out to me on the second and third listen through is that there is a slight split of personality happening throughout the record. This may be a Paul & John type thing where previously there was collaboration now the singer is the songwriter and never the twain shall meet; it’s like a mutiny aboard a ship where the crew are loyal but as with every enterprise new blood must flow. And a changing of the guards sometimes presses subtly but relentlessly, like a gigantic elephant in the room..
Yes, after my third listen, I wanted to say: this is a schizophrenic album.
I said it, but perhaps it isn’t entirely fair.
There is some cohesiveness that runs throughout and hints of the embryonic glue that delicately justifies it as a complete album.
You could split the album in two and call it a double EP – but now we’re splitting hairs.
Despite this tug and pull, the band has pulled something off that is a sign of more great things to come; they are still together and getting better.
I suggest catching them live too, they are a great live band now, but one of the highlights of the record is that it does their live sound justice. That’s not easy to capture.
There are also fewer drum rolls – thank god – but maybe that’s more of a sign of the increasing power and strength of the songwriting than the playing itself.
Michael, for one, has grown as a singer and is perhaps closer to knowing what he wants from music. There is more sophistication in the songwriting and the arrangements. There is more vulnerability in his voice, which is more honest in my opinion, after all, we are not gods.
‘Coming Out’ – here comes the single (I think).. I can definitley hear this one on an alternative rock station.
(The angels of grunge are wondering where the syringes are).
They remain loyal to their dirty high school blues and mascara-ridden (yet no sign of bleeding black streaks, yet) emo, loud guitar-driven rock n roll.
They are certainly breaking out of their mould, and venturing into new territory (for them). It should make for an even more dynamic show.
Having said all this, they are true hometown, USA, working-class rockers, and for that, I salute them!
Editor’s Note — This is a preview. Prototype will be released to the public on November 17th.
If you’re familiar with the current superhip Troy (or Albany or Saratoga where he hails closer to/from) music scene, you’ve heard of Sinkcharmer. Or if not Sinkcharmer, one of Paul Coleman’s other projects. Haley Moley, a band he formed with his wife Jen Maher Coleman and other local musicians Andrea Kosek (aka DJ Goldeedust) Pat Thorne, and Mike Broomhead (the latter two making up DJ Partyhorn). Or maybe Architrave, an already legendary danceable electronic post-punk duo he also formed with his wife Jen. OR any of the dozens of local production and engineering jobs he’s done for other local artists…
Point is, if you’re reading this, you probably know who Paul Coleman is and have heard Sinkcharmer. So we don’t need to describe him to you. But we’re gonna anyway (how else are we gonna write enough to fill up the 100 or so words neededd to fill up this space)?
To us Sinkcharmer’s a cross between late 70s/early 80s post-punk/dance/new wave and east coast 90s lo-fi/alternative artists. In fact, Sinkcharmer began all the way back in the late 90s in Boston. But he seems to have found his home and greatest fanbase here in the Capital District.
Back in 2017 Coleman released ‘Sit Up Straight’, a collection of terrific little sequenced pop gems. This was followed up with ‘vs. Reactor House’, a series of singles and comps. However, to date no full record has been released to as much fanfare as ‘Radical Luck’, an album so sought after by the local press that writers were contacting Coleman begging for pre-releases and interviews before he announced the release date.
Well, as you and I both know your pals at Times Boredom are the most ingenious damned hackers in the business and we bug everyone’s laptop that makes music here in the Capital District. So we didn’t ask. We took! And then, lazy bastards that we are, we just sat around listening to the album and enjoying it so much we didn’t get around to reviewing now, after he’s released it to the general public. So much for the hype.
But fuck do we love what we hear. More and more everytime we play it through. Like previous mentioned releases Coleman balances out electronic drum machines and sequencers with lo-fi nerdy pop vocals and signature postpunk guitar tones (i’ve heard he plays a tenor guitar and switches it to a bass with a pedal — also that he built his own guitar from spare parts he found at the junkyard and several processors he built the same way).
Just like all the great Sinkcharmer albums, what I love about this one is how it seamlessly blends proto-goth rock with lo-fi Lou Barlowesque melodies, post-modern instrumentation and sensibilities. The album begins with reverb laden hollow ringing chords that would fit perfectly on an early Cure album. And then begins the best song about the pandemic I’ve heard as of yet; comparing it to an event with biblical proportions (because when it comes down to it, we all potentially will do so in twenty years). However, unlike the actual flood story, this one doesn’t seem to have an end. We go inside the ark, than go outside, the light’s to bright, back into the Ark! Just like all the times we keep thinking this fucking thing is over.
Season Six Script Planning is a BRILLIANT song about the randomly exciting and terrifying events that are taking place in America right now. America’s treating itself as a television show that was on its way out, so in season 6 we go off the rails, hoping it’ll keep everyone’s attention. But instead it may (or may not) be an entertaining romp, but it’s real fucking life. Whoever’s in control needs to stop fucking around, poking all the bears, making them dance for the cameras because there are serious consequences that no one’s taking seriously but, rather, are just treating like some dumb tv show.
The remainder of the tracks follow similar patterns pitting new wave beats behind sullen post-goth sonic guitar fields and monotonal vocal patterns with catchy hooks. Chaotic Dreams and Dwell seem to almost be a dyad of personal torturous emotions, and represent a far darker more introspective side of Sinkcharmer. Kept and Terrible Protector (the latter of which was originally included on the world changing 518 Covid Comp), are tracks that most remind me of Sinkcharmer’s Dinosaur/Sebadoh tendencies. That mid to late period 90s indie rock vibe with the dance beats is if nothing else a fascinating juxtaposition. And they’re juxtaposed (interposed?) by Stochastic Reality, a highly danceable tune with Nine Inch Nails like descriptions of an eerie controlling invisible power that feeds our pleasure centers to get us to submit.
And then of course there’s the exception of course of the cover of Madeline Darby’s Innovation, which is a terrific take on what’s recently become a Troy scene electro-noise classic. And, as expected, Sinkcharmer like any good folk song preparer makes the song his own; I doubt that people that don’t know the track or read the notes will even know it’s a Darby penned song (though if you’re reading this you should and you should head to Madeline Darby’s bandcamp page after this!)
Sinkcharmer is pulling esoteric threads from four decades of underground music to combine the perfect ear candy for the indie fan in all of us. Thanks for another great album; keep it up!
So if you read our last article by now you know that it was a total bust. It turns out in order to have a podcast you need a recorder, technology, sound, etc. Which is way too much effort for a free site with a revolving cast of writers and non-writers that don’t get paid and therefore have very little incentive to do, well, ANYTHING they plain don’t want to.
So we’re pivoting back to good old fashioned 19th century text! That’s right, dancing about architecture again just like we did when you first fell in love with us!
That being said, we need inspiration… stuff to write about. And while we will probably go to some shows and write about them, when it comes to your personal music we really want it to be voluntary since we’ve been told we can be brutally, BRUTALLY honest when it comes to something we don’t like. So if you want a review on the coolest site in the tri-state area and you’re not afraid of a few (or a ton) of poison laced barbs… or if you’re a good sport like all our hall of famers on the link to the— left? my left? stage left… please submit any and all music to us at email@example.com!
And though we prefer supergreat local stuff, we will review ANYTHING we receive. So if you recorded yourself on your cell phone banging on a pot for 6 hours and you’re from New Mexico, we will unlike most commercial sites give it a genuine listen for at least 6 hours and probably 12 or 18. We’re into weird shit.
Submit everything you’ve got today! And if we really like you, we WILL probably request an interview and/or come to one of your shows.
From all your old pals here at Times Boredom, we thank you for reading this post. Seriously, if you even made it this far and have read up to here we really appreciate it given how terrible we are at consistently posting stuff, being a consistent publication about similar/related music, etc. We’re admittedly lazy fucks that don’t make any $$ of this so we just do whatever we feel like. And right now, we feel like listening to your crappy new band for hours and really give it a good, deep listen until we can’t take it anymore and have to write an article begging you to let us know why you sent us, much less made this pile of… what were you thinking?!
So it’s no secret that 99% of Times Boredom writers have been poached by Nippertown. Thanks a lot Nippertown for letting our writers know they could actually get paid to write about local music! Seriously though Nippertown.com is a great site and we do support what they do. But this place is a ghost town…
There are also rumors that the Phantom Man behind Times Boredom (Scott aka me) has fallen deathly ill and therefore will never post again. I’m posting this right now to dispel those rumors. Or am I? Ooooo — boo!
Nah that doesn’t make sense. Of course I am. Nobody else writes as incoherently as I do.
We’ve decided that, in order to revamp the Spirit of Times Boredom (also because I can’t/don’t want to do all the writing myself), we’re going to ‘pivot’ to a Times Boredom podcast! That’s right, instead of writing a bunch of wild stupid shit that makes US laugh (and sometimes you) AND recently increasingly writing a bunch of not so funny reviews of local music, we’re gonna have some fun and get weird with it.
So keep your eyes peeled for further announcements about the Times Boredom podcast, an auditory broadcast where local musicians, writers, media personalities, and scenesters get together to shoot the shit about local music and whatever else they might feel like shooting the shit about. With weekly guests!
Seriously y’all, this is gonna be fun! Stay tuned.
John: (John): Guitar, vocals, dude that reassures k. that he can do this and he’s not just a lame drooling fan (even though k. totally is) to help him make it through the interview
TB: Hello NONAGON! First things first, how many chocolate bars do you think I can eat by the time this interview is over?
Robert: I was told there wasn’t going to be any math.
Tony: I’m going to look up pics of your cheeks before I make my guess
TB: I should tell you that it’s minis…
Tony:: Oh, choco pie
TB: Ok I’ll put all your guesses in the jar. Anything below 4 is already wrong.
So in the interest of pretending to be one of those drunk morning show hosts, let me tell you about my day for no reason. I woke up this morning and really didn’t want to get out of bed, but then I remembered your new album is still fresh in my mind so I put it on, jumped right in the shower, and made it into work! How does it feel to be responsible for the continued existence of losers like myself?
John:: So, it seems to me that you’re saying that we put food on your table? I wish we could say we were doing the same for us.
Robert:: Many people want a shower after hearing our record.
Tony: Losers listening to losers. checks out.
TB: Losers making loser music to make loser music too? (Sorry I was trying to do a clever shoegaze catchphrase parody there. I’ll clean it up in post)
John: I see you’ve read my manifesto.
TB: Ah. So I understand Robert is the group artist?
Tony:: Robert is the group talent for everything
John: By far the most talented person in the band. Don’t tell him we said that.
Robert: I’m great at everything except interviews.
TB: So what’s with the flying fishes?
John: HA! Who wants to tell this dumb story?
Tony: I’m bad at telling stories
TB:Y’all seem to be saying you’re bad at a lot of things…
John: Yeah all of us except Robert
Tony: So you HAVE heard the record
Robert: The record title came before the artwork… it was from a joke Tony invented while were were driving around in the van
TB: Is it the kind of joke you have to be high to get or can you tell me it?
John: I think I was telling a long-winded story about how I used to watch bald eagles hang out near the dam in downtown lawrence when the rest of the river was frozen over… They would fill the trees along side the riverbank. Over-explaining, as usual, I said…”because, you know, they fish.” Tony said: “Nuh uh. They birds”
TB:And Robert somehow transformed that story into a menagerie of strange flying creatures that are fish and birds and reptiles with da vinci contraptions?
Robert: Pretty much. I like stuff from ye olden days.
TB:I did see a reference to Jacques Cousteau I think and in my review said something about turn of the century monographs. But honestly I had no idea what I was talking about
Tony: I asked why they fish always hang out by dams. This particular dam that brought on this conversation is right close to the thundersnow hotel
TB:Oh! I’ve been there!
(Note to our readers; k. and his band Che Guevara T-Shirt paid $300 in 2014 to be allowed to play the annual PRF ‘Thundersnow’ concert with Nonagon, Low, Megamaul, and many other fantastic other bands in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was the highlight of their career; k. got drunk and fell asleep halfway through their performance.)
John:Where we met! Maybe even the same year Tony made the joke. If you saw me break out into laughter randomly at any moment, that was why.
TB: I did wonder why you stopped singing halfway through every song and started cracking up laughing. Now i know.
So I hear y’all are famous for taking a long time to make records?
John: Heh. “Famous.” Yeah. We move at a snails pace. Our process isn’t efficient but we end up pretty happy in the end
Tony: 1 record every 14 years is our pace
TB:Well given the complexity of the parts it seems as though you go over everything with a fine tooth comb. I mean, why don’t you just take it easy and like, write a part in standard 4/4 time so I can dance to it? how does it usually work? does someone come in with a part? do you jam until something sticks?
Tony: John usually comes in with a riffy thing and we jam and judge
Robert: The parts tend to start with John coming up with a riff or two and we vamp around that for two years.
John: I don’t think we do a whole lot of building and rebuilding. We just keep playing the thing until it makes sense to us. A lot of the songs end up in a pretty different place from where we start, but its organic and slow-going.
TB: When do you decide something is ‘done’ or ‘ready for recording?
Robert: We will play a song out live a few times before it’s truly ready, and then change it up, and eventually it gets set in stone.
John: I can usually tell pretty quick if it’s not going to work. But not really set in stone until it’s recorded. I’m usually working on lyrics until the very last minute. Once it’s on tape, though, we don’t mess with it any more. There’s a very definite vibe when it clicks, and if it doesn’t click quickly we’ve learned to drop it. I have a lot of left over riffs.
TB: Can I have them?
John: HA! I’m thinking I may reintroduce them at practice and see if something happens. Don’t tell Tony or Robert.
TB: Would you say you use the audience as a sounding board at all or just see if you can play it well together live?
John: More of the latter, I think?
Robert: We don’t really get much feedback from a crowd other than, “I liked the new one.” Then at our next practice we kinda do a post-mortem.
Tony: if we don’t trainwreck it too often, then it’s a keeper. There’s an acceptable number of trainwrecks. Right guys?
Tony: I’m fired aren’t I…
TB:Speaking of the recording, you did this one at Electrical Audio but opted NOT to use the great Albini. How was it working with Jon Sao Paolo?
John:Steve is amazing, but I feel like he’s been a hero of mine for way too long.
Robert: Jon was fantastic.
John: Jon is the opposite of intimidating. Warm, funny, talented as hell.
TB:Does he use a method similar to Albini? i.e. hundreds of room mics?
Tony: Albini was suprisingly funny and warm too. but also all business
TB: I hear he’s really tall.
John: HA! Only in our heads, I think
Tony: JSP used the normal amount of drum mics : 147
TB:Is 147 that mystical number the boredoms came up with?
Tony: I believe it was the Ruins
Robert: 147 (a perfect break in snooker BTW)
TB:Did you record live? Was there any isolation or overdubbing at all?
John: ha. because it was all to tape, we only had a finite number of channels to work with, so it didn’t seem that there was ANY random room mic-ing. Everything seemed to have a specific reason. Once it was all set up, yeah… the four of us did all the tracking together at the same time — minus vocals and a few overdubs).
John: It’s pretty much what we heard in the room.
Robert: We did add a few extra noises on a track or two. So this LP was basically the Nonagon equivalent to ‘Dark Side of the Moon’ in terms of production.
TB: Sounds like a challenge. Have you recorded all your albums this way?
Tony: 2 at Electrical (audio), 2 at kerguelen in NYC John We have always done it this way. We never have a budget that allows for excess studio time, so we try to be as rehearsed AS HECK before we get there. Then rip through it.
TB: Did the legendary Mr. Weston do the mastering all after in a quiet room by himself or did you get to hang with him?
John: He mastered our very first CD, and we made the mistake of sitting in the room with him. He would ask us what we think and we would say stuff so he wouldn’t think we were dumb. We ended up stepping on our own stuff.
Robert: We put all our trust in Bob’s ears and left it to him.
TB: That does sound wise. I mean, he is Rusty.Seriously, does anyone know why the fuck he’s called Rusty?
John: Mostly gray now, but a SALACIOUS red as a younger, more vibrant man.
TB: Do you feel like you’re in a sort of chicago boys club? Electrical Audio, Bob Weston, PRF?
Tony: We’re definitely not in the “club” — we may be adjacent? We’re in the JV club– PRF!
John: HA! Exactly. JV.
TB:WTF is PRF? Do you guys know who started it? Who’s in charge? What does it have to do with Jewish space lasers?
John: Bob and Steve and Jon and the like are definitely part of the same community we inhabit, but for the most part the PRF seems to be just a wonderful bunch of scrubs (like us) who kind of don’t care if Pitchfork ever reviews us.
The board itself started as a tech thing before it became social and then “real life.” I wasn’t theree for the beginning, but I’m guessing Greg Norman (another brilliant engineer) and Faiz Razi (a hilarious polyglot) could be blamed for part of it… Those are just two names of many, though. It’s wonderfully decentralized.
TB: By board you’re referring to the Electrical Audio messaging space?
John: Correct. The whole thing started with someone asking about mic placement.
Tony: Yeah- the forum section of electrical’s website
Robert: 147 posts later and here we are.
TB: We had something similar here in Albany called the ‘Wasted Board’ at first which then became the ‘Upstate Ether’. Unfortunately instead of leading to a scene, we just made fun of each other until we all cried. I’ve been told the Chicago scene on the other hand is actually really unique in being very mutually supportive
Tony: Our scene is, for sure. But there are many, many scenes here.
John: Our part of it is. We feel very lucky.
Robert: Yes, our little corner of it seems to be
TB: I’m guessing there must be at least somebands that think they’re too cool to be hanging with you guys. Someone told me Haymarket Riot made fun of your trousers…
Robert: Early on as a band we got paired with bands that were too cool for us, but we eventually aged out of that scene.
Tony: that’s a different scene
John: We’ve played with a lot of cool bands. Haymarket Riot has played BBQs and had a blast.
Tony: side note to nonagon: Izzy just told me that a band that she knows that plays house shows would love to play with us at said house show
TB: hey knock it off! No side band chatter! This is a serious professional interview here!
Tony:back to your regular programming!
TB: Moving on… who do you think would win in a fight, Rodan or the dude from Molly Hatchet? You know the guy with the huge sideburns…
Robert: Rodan the Kaiju monster or band? Or French sculptor?
TB: Yes that one.
John: ALL of Rodan vs. the one guy? Oof. I can’t call it.
Tony:Squirrel Bait or the other guitarist from Nazareth
TB:I’m trying to get an interview with Jeff Mueller who lives closer to me now. Do you guys want me to ask him anything for you?
Tony: yeah– ask him who he is
John: Ha… He used to live very close to me. I, of course, was always too shy to say “hi”. Stuff like that is why we’ll never be in the cool club… I’m too much of a fanboy, but I think it’s super important to hang onto being a dumb fan… otherwise, what’s the point?
TB: I hear that. I didn’t say hi to whats his name when Low played Thundersnow even though we have a friend in common..
Tony: His name is Mimi!
TB: Oh shit I’d never talk to her… I am so scared of her. I requested Sunflowers while they were playing and Mimi was like ‘fuck you asshole!’
Tony: I was too scared to say anything to any of the Low folks.
TB: But you have your own fans now… what’s that like?
John: I’m not sure we have “fans” the same way. I think if someone likes us they become friends before any hierarchy takes place.
Tony: Fun sidestory- my old band played with Low at CBGB
TB: Which band? I’ve been told I’m supposed to ask about ‘Jump Knuckle’
Tony: Correct! My old band was Jump Knuckle!
John: Totally not true.
Tony:Jump Knuckle was awesome
Robert: Tony was always known as “the Cute One” in Jumpknuckle.
Tony: (i was not really in that band)
John: Jumpknuckle was my college band… we took our name from a Boredoms song (2 references!) Tony was in The Blue Meanies back then.
TB:Awesome callback to the Boredoms!
John: The Blue Meanies were a BIG band in the Midwest especially. Toured the world. The whole deal.
TB: Wait, who was in the Blue Meanies? I’m so lost…
Have you all always lived in the Chicago area or are any of you transplants?
Tony: Robert and i grew up ‘downstate’ –john grew up very close. So close he went to ALL the cool shows back in the day
John: Me = Waukegan (N. of Chicago), Chicago, Champaign, Chicago, Lawrence KS, Chicago, Michigan, Chicago
Robert: I grew up in central Illinois. Chicago was always the ‘Big City’ for us growing up. When I moved here in my 20’s I felt like I finally made it. And then reality set in.
TB:So yall are hardcore Chicago/midwest?
John:I’d call that a fair statement
TB: How does it feel to have a bunch of losers from upstate new york being big fans that want to interview you?(and if you think you’re big here now, just wait till this interview airs!)
Tony: How many is a bunch?
TB: Well there’s me, John, Matt, Phil, Michelle…
Robert: As long as you are not from Buffalo, we’re cool.
John: Y’all are TOO KIND. We’ve traveled farther to play shows to fewer!
Tony: I think we need to play albany!
TB: You really do! Have you ever heard of Superdark? They are great at setting up shows and somehow always drawing huge crowds (which was previously impossible in Albany). If you guys play here you will totally cleanup.
Tony:you mean, they will actually make us clean up
TB: Yeah, all the MONEY! Gas money and then some!
Tony: Nonagon/Hungry Man East Coast tour?
John: We would set it up in a minute, but thanks to omicron, the few shows we actually have tried to set up have been disintegrating.
TB:Yeah our first show here after the vaccinations happened spread delta to EVERYONE in the scene.
TB: If the world doesn’t end, I WILL get you to play out here!
John:Even the DRIVE sounds fun right now.
TB:We have a great new venue out here in Troy called No Fun that’s pretty much run by all the cool kids
Tony: We are in! (covid permitting)
TB: Serioulsy though, how long are you guys planning to keep killing it? Word is you guys are all eligible to retire…
John: We are super old. and my back and hands hurt. but, much to the chagrin of my bandmates, I don’t see stopping anytime soon.
TB: Yeah, what is your secret?
John: Beer and ibuprofen.
TB: That gives me IBS…
Robert: Hearing loss.
Tony:I have numb arms and hands when we play.. doesn’t seem to matter
TB: When I first saw you guys 20 years ago you were seriously hardcore… and your records still sound just as hardcore. Seriously. Did you make a pact with the devil in your 20s?
Tony:When we were a younger band, I thought it would be kinda hilarious to be playing shows when we were in our 50’s. And he we are.
Robert:We are nothing if not consistent.
Tony:Wait. you saw us 20 years ago?
John:Speaking for myself, I think I (at least sometimes) want to say that I play in one of my favorite bands. It took a while for me to get here, so I’m not in a hurry to end it. Sorry dudes.
TB:That’s what I tell my bandmates! But they aren’t willing to carry me home anymore… Honestly it’s been great talking with yall and I’d love to go all night
Tony: Still– seriously, how / when did you see us 20 years ago?
TB:I saw you guys when you were in college and I was in the Korean war. I said ‘these kids got somethin!’
Robert: We played that house party at the MAS*H unit
TB:yeah. sad, sad show.
Tony: I made out with Radar’s teddy bear
TB: so many needless deaths…
Tony: ….nonagon is painless…
John:NOTHING SAYS YOUTH MARKET LIKE MAS*H REFERENCES!
TB: Cool cool. Do you mind if I do a j? Any of you guys into Supertramp?
Tony: Well– there is that one song where they sample Mattel Electronic Football. that one’s cool. It was called, “The Mattel Electronic Football Song.”
TB:No wait I had a serious question. Seriously though, thanks a lot for doing this interview!
Tony: This was fun! I only want to do interviews like this from now on
John: Kasrael! This was a blast. And thanks again for taking our record under your wing. It means A LOT.