Interview with Grace Annunziato of Lone Phone Booth

Ipolito, our resident biggest fan of local experimental indie noise project/”gay uncle core” performers Lone Phone Booth (though the rest of us are fans too!) sat down (on the internet) with Grace Annunziato of the group recently to talk about how the pandemic is affecting music, what their writing and recording process is like, and random stuff about, um, corn. Here’s what they came up with.

Ipolito Terentjia (IT): So how are you enjoying the pandemic so far?

Grace Annunziato (GA): ha; i talked a lot before the pandemic about how i wished everything would stop, or at least slow down; i have learned to be more careful what i wish for,there have been some great aspects that have come with it like introspection, focus on my meditation practices, and connecting more deeply with the earth and with my priorities. obviously none of that is worth the toll it has taken! my plans have been shaken up and i forget how to be around people. but i am lucky to have gotten through it relatively unscathed. & it has definitely changed my creative process lots.

IT: Have you been making more music as a result or has it prevented that?

GA: DEFINITELY less music. for months at the beginning it just seemed so silly to write a little song with a pandemic and civil rights movement in full swing. now it’s just harder to get the motivation, but i’ve been finding ways around that. i also love writing about places and experiences which are hard to come by in a pandemic.

IT: I know what you mean. I think a lot of local musicians are feeling that way. Do you live in the capital district?

GA: i do! i live in albany.

IT: How long have you lived here? I think I read something about one of your recordings being at St Rose. Did you go to school there?

GA: i moved here for college in 2016. yeah, i went to saint rose! I graduated May 2020. meaning i finished school virtually. i had planned some long form travel after graduation but wound up sticking around, which has been a blessing in disguise.

IT: Did you study music there?

GA: I studied music industry, so a combination of music tech, business, and performance. i mostly focused on the tech side. i love engineering and production work.

IT: I guess that means you learned a lot about recording. Can you tell us about your recording process and methods?

GA: i usually start with guitar parts, at least i have in the past. once i have the guitar and vocals down i’ll add other instruments. after that is the really fun part, adding samples and field recordings, synths, effects, etc. that part probably takes the most time.

lately though, i’ve been switching it up a little. usually now I’ll start with a sample or field recording and build on that sound; i try to make it the focal point rather than the background. Then I’ll layer guitar, vocals, keys, whatever, on top of that.

i have a little portable stereo recorder i’ve been bringing on hikes. that has been the basis for a lot of music recently. then i just add sounds that feel like they fit the time and place i recorded.

IT: Do you record at home or in a studio?

GA: both! the studio when i was at st rose, now just at home. i’d love to get back in the studio when i have something ready that could use a hi-fi recording.

RE/SOUND needed that clean studio sound! but for more ambient stuff like i’ve been into lately i honestly love the lofi sound of recording at home on my busy street.

IT: Switching to the business side since you said you also studied that, I assume you’ve been self releasing recordings thus far. Have you spoken with or been approached by any local or big record labels? Or do you always see yourself doing things the DIY way and releasing and promoting independently?

GA: i’ve worked with the angels at bee side cassettes and talked with five kill a bit too. i’ve never been approached by a bigger label, but i have been ignored by a few! hahah.

despite having studied it, the business side of things has always made me feel icky. promotion is not my thing. i would rather self release and have only a few people hear it than have a huge release that feels inauthentic.

IT: The ‘who are your major influences’ question is a tired old cliche that signals a lack of imagination on the part of the interviewer. Who are you major influences?

GA: Mirah has affected me since I was a kid. Frankie Cosmos and Girlpool and a lot of straight white emo bands helped me get started. William Basinski and other minimalist composers like Philip Glass, Emily Sprague. The trees that live on my street. And how the light moves around my apartment throughout the day!

Anyone who can combine noise and music, too- Ylayali, spirit of the beehive, the books, etc

IT: That’s a lot of stuff I’ve never heard of. I’ll have to do some background research and put the record buying on Times Boredom’s dime!

GA: sounds like a great plan!!!

IT: What genre, if any, would you say your music could be classified as?

GA: gay

for real, i don’t know how to answer that! somewhere in the alternative umbrella. for now i’ll go with gay uncle core.

IT: A lot of people are saying that indie rock, like rock music in general, has become stale and unexciting. So if you could save Courtney Barnett, Waxahatchee, or the band Real Estate, who would you let drown first and why?

GA: bye bye, real estate!
i’ve covered waxahatchee and courtney barnett is the primordial ooze that my hairstyle was birthed from.

IT: So I’d like to ask you about live performances before I forget. Where have you played in the Capital District? Anywhere you’d like to play? Have you ever toured and/or are you planning to?

GA: i’ve played basements and living rooms all across the capital district! and i have done a small tour in the northeast US. next year i am moving into a van so i will sort of be touring all the time. i’d love to play in the southwest US just because it’s where i’d love to explore.

i would be ecstatic to play in any sweaty basement with my friends in it

IT: So several of the other writers here at Times Boredom wanted me to tell you how much they love your music and especially your latest album ‘RE/SOUND’. It plays around TB HQ pretty much non-stop. What we all most want to know most is, do you plan to stick around the Capital District? Can we hope to hear more from you and see live performances in the near and/or not to distant future?

GA: wow, i really appreciate that! seriously, it means a lot!! and it honestly depends on how COVID goes. i’ve been wanting to travel for a while. I hope to leave albany in the fall as long as everyone who wants a vaccine has one by then. hopefully i’ll be able to play a few shows in albany before that happens! but it seems so uncertain how the transition back into live music will go.

IT: We absolutely look forward to that and hope you’ll keep us in the loop! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us tonight Is there anything you’d like to add before we conclude? Maybe another local music artist you’d like to give a shout out to?

GA: number one is an email newsletter i recently started! https://lonephonebooth.substack.com/ .

number two! my partner alex AKA soo do koo. one of the most inspiring artists i know, & in the midst of releasing a series of video collabs with local legend Derick Noetzel.

thanks for reaching out, and for chatting! much appreciated. can i ask you an interview question before we go?

IT: Sure thing. ask away

GA: what is your favorite vegetable and why???

IT: Hm. A fair question. Although technically corn breaks all the rules, one of things it is is a vegetable. So I’m gonna have to pick corn, since it was such a major achievement of the pre-Colombian American peoples. It’s basically the most scientifically advanced form of nutrition that can grow anywhere under almost any conditions

I fully believe that the import of corn from the Americas allowed all civilizations, in Europe, Asia, and Africa, to flourish in a way that allowed them to reflect much more on intellectual pursuits because it feeds so many so efficiently

While it may not be the healthiest kind of food, the technology, knowledge of farming, cultivation, hybridization, and the sheer audacity of taking something that grew only in very specific conditions in the wild yet was modified to make it spread across the entire planet mirrors humankind’s own journey into being the superdominant species on earth, for better or worse.

GA: that was beautiful. never have i thought so deeply into corn’s cultural impact; thank you.

IT: Oh, before I forget, Scott wanted me to specifically ask: “GOATS!!! GOATS GOATS GOATS GOATS GOATS!! THEY WILL TAKE OVER SOON, JUST LOOK IN THEIR EYES! FEAR THE GOOOAAATTTSSS!!!!”

GA: well said, Scott.

IT: Thanks again and I hope we have an excuse to speak again soon! Please keep making great music! We really love it!

GA: hahah they’re both good points & thank you so much! i really do appreciate all the kindness you all have shown me.

Male Patterns spew authentic local hardcore punk on their latest split 7″ (with Executors)

I have this ongoing argument with a lot of my friends. Indie rockers, prog nerds, hipsters, contrarians, noise music enthusiasts… for some reason they don’t appreciate current hardcore punk. Sure, the early stuff like Black Flag and Minor Threat was groundbreaking and great they say, but now it’s just people doing the same thing over and over. As if there’s some kind of ‘progression’ in music that’s gonna bring it all to perfection some day. As if they wouldn’t flip their shit for a local band that sounds exactly like Can, or a shitty touring band just because it has some wanker thief of singer songwriter folk cliches like Will Oldham or Bill Callahan.

I get so angry at their hypocrisy and ignorance the only thing that calms me down is blasting music like the 7 inch I just got from Male Patterns loud as my stereo goes for days. Because regardless of whether my friends appreciate it, shit like this to me is some of the most truly honest and authentic music you’ll ever hear, local or otherwise.

Photo of Male Patterns by legendary local scenestress Sara Winner

That being said, much as I love local hardcore punk, I’m in no sense as versed in it as I should be. I can’t tell you which micro-genre Male Patterns may or may not belong to, whether they’re post crust, pre-grind, powerviolence, etc. I don’t know the difference between a break beat and a whatever else the terminology may be, and don’t give a shit (though as an unpaid but self styled critic perhaps I should).

The most obvious influence a poser like myself immediately hears is early eighties Black Flag (Damaged/Everything Went Black/My War period). Both the sludgey off the cuff riffs of Mike Moak and the angry, raspy vocals of Brendan Halayko unmistakeably invoke that classic period of American hardcore. It’s also clear that Male Patterns has taken cues from dozens (if not hundreds) of local hardcore punk bands both old and new like Police Line and Devoid of Faith. And of course there’s at least some influence from After the Fall, the renowned decades strong local band that guitarist Mike Moak is the frontman, vocalist and guitarist for. There are deep histories mixed in here that whole books could be written about but never will because just a few notes of this split ep convey all the beauty and brutality of an ever evolving yet always true to its roots hardcore punk aesthetic and immediacy.

Vocalist Brendan Halayko

The first track on side B of this 7 inch (or the first track in general for those of you on bandcamp) is proof positive of what I’m talking about. “Handcuffed to the grid and I’m about to crack, Our lives are micro chipped and there’s no going back… AUTOMATIC!” The world is fucked and so are we. There’s no way out all, you can do is scream into the void. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.

All tracks share a common aesthetic (a common theme with punk bands — songs sound the same and fuck you if you don’t like em); full on starts segueing into rhythmic build ups and take downs, chugging riffs and shouted single word or phrase choruses.

Vocalist Brendan Halayko (who I recognize from his days back with local punk legends the Neutron Rats that we were too drunk to remember seeing) has an idiosyncratic, full throated raspy half shout that conveys grit, anger, and despair in full measure. Regardless of whether or not he sets out to sound original or idiosyncratic, his voice has a rugged angry survivor quality that I haven’t heard the likes of anywhere else (but is clearly influenced by hardcore legends like Henry Rollins).

Self Abuse is lyrically quite similar to a Keith Morris Black Flag song. Straightforward, hopeless, depressing, and kranky as the sky is big.

Bassist KC Carvill

Fear Mongering is a screed against anyone and everyone that makes life into one paranoid fantasy about terrorism. Fact is danger is everywhere, terrorism’s just one more guise; “A thousand ways to the grave/we’ve evolved so quickly/but are so easily afraid”. It’s all too easy to play on people’s fears to get them to stay inside, live like mice and just consume. But if you fall prey to that, it’s like you’re already dead. Instead, Male Patterns tells us to “Live your life!”

When’s all said and done, to me the greatest thing about the kind of classic, ceaseless hardcore music that’s been going on since the late 70s is its self aware disposability and lack of (endless fight against) pretention. The ultimate nihilistic denial of any sort of progression in a musical form that stays true to its roots instead of trying to have individualized gimmicks that shows how special the group you’re listening to is, the ceaseless recycling and repetition that says ‘this is our music and we’re playing it cause we love it. We don’t want your money or your fame, we just want to express ourselves the same way our heroes have for years for ourselves and our friends who all feel similarly.’

And Male Patterns is yet another in this hardcore grind of American punk bands; they stand out from their peers in a way I really appreciate in their complete lack of trying to be ‘he-man’ music or show off how tough they are (a characteristic of more adolescent and foolish ambitious young punk bands), and what each of their individual talents brings to the band as veterans of dozens of other great punk rock groups that wanted nothing more than to write and play great music, and stop as soon as it stops feeling right and starts feeling like work. And in all likelihood, when this inevitably happens to yet another great punk band and sadly we have no more Male Pattern music to review, we’ll probably hear about Brendan, Mike, KC, and Dan’s new bands. And the vicious cycle continues. You either get it and you love it or you don’t and you never will.

-Scott Koenig