Friday, February 25, 2011

Matta Gawa is a duo from Washington, D.C. that features Edward Ricart on guitar and Sam Lohman on drums. They play a unique blend of improvisational, pyschedelic avant-rock and free jazz. I caught up with Ed for an interview this week.

Keir Neuringer: Your upcoming show is your second visit to Ithaca, correct? How often does MG play out as a duo? How often do you tour?

Edward Ricart: Our gig in September 2010 was our first time in Ithaca, but Sam Lohman (drummer) has played in town a number of times over the years. Matta Gawa has been a primary focus for both of us--it's so easy to tour and operate as a duo, that we are really able to get out and move without a huge van--and it's easier to coordinate two schedules than four or five. We have done a number of shorter tours--generally 10 days or so, through the mid-Atlantic, and spent almost two months on the road last year. We play out as often as we can, mostly in DC, Philly, and NYC. It is great to be on the road, meeting people, hearing new music, and checking out new places (and places to eat).

KN: You are both a performer and an organizer back home. Tell us about your local scene. What makes you proud? What exasperates you?

ER: Washington DC has such a rich history of creative music--from Duke Ellington and Go Go music through to Fugazi--and it has been a destination for avant jazz artists for many years, thanks to the efforts of a number of local presenters. I grew up listening to punk rock, and the music from labels like SST, Dischord Records, and Touch and Go, before I started digging into free jazz, new music, and bebop. Dischord is a Washington DC based label, and is the quintessential American DIY indie label. The same do-it-yourself ethos and spirit can be identified in the creative jazz scene as well...for example, Sun Ra self-released his own music as far back as the 1950s. So the spirit of the two musics is really quite similar, even though there are huge sonic differences. This spirit has been a huge influence on how I operate. I've been running a concert series in DC for the past two years, and the music has been outstanding. 100% of the proceeds from ticket sales are paid to the artists, and I try to keep the shows fairly early, and the tickets affordable to ensure the music is available to everyone in the community. It is a pleasure to help out touring creative musicians, and I've made some great friends through the series. Nevertheless, it is difficult to get recognition from the more indie rock oriented websites in town, and while Michael West at the DC City Paper has been supportive, and the series was voted 'best in DC' last year, the Washington Post doesn't really cover the series.

KN: What works at home for reaching audiences?

ER: Recently, the DC scene has moved out of the clubs and into non-traditional spaces like houses, galleries, and lofts. These have become the best spots in town, since people go to these places totally open to hearing whatever is being presented, even if they aren't really sure what type of musical experience to expect, and they actively listen to the music and get off on it, even if its outside of their comfort zone. There's definitely pluses and minuses to our scene, but they're probably the same pluses and minuses that people face everywhere else. DC is unique in that despite the great museums in town, unless you're lucky, the city is prohibitively expensive for most artists to entertain the idea of living there. So it really can be a grind making ends meet, which is probably less of an issue in many other cities. As a result, the community of creative musicians and artists is smaller than it should be. Nevetheless, we're very close to NYC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Richmond, and it seems like there's a lot of interaction and exchange between all of these places.

KN: Particularly rewarding interactions on the road? At home? Tour horror stories?

Vii Caso (IU/Hiroshima Vacation) Interviews Mouth To Mouth To Mouth!

IU: How did this band come together?

Corey: I wanted to start up another band with Gabe and Peter because I missed playing music with them. Mathcore at the time was the only music me and Gabe both shared interest in so I suggested we put together a band in that vein. A year later, when we were finally able to start the band we asked Bubba to be our bassist and MTMTM was formed.

IU: Describe the song writing process?

Bubba: It can really vary from piece to piece but overall every member has input on all the parts. The first piece we wrote, “Open Hand, Insert Mouth” was written at the tail end of summer just as the band was forming. Gabe & Corey worked diligently on structure and drums &  guitar parts, then Skyped parts to Peter to learn while he was in Poland. I came in later and wrote bass lines to their work. Corey brought most of the riffs to “Mickey Mouth” if I’m recalling correctly, but there was much more involvement from all parties in the structure and parts for the rest of the instruments. “That’s a LOT of Aardvark” spawned out of the bass intro I wrote and that killer beat that Gabe kicks in with.  We wrote the foundation to that one in Corey’s basement, the one and only practice we’ve had there so far. Initially it had a slight bit of a Meshuggah vibe because of the broken high-hat Gabe was railing on which was vaguely reminiscent of a china cymbal. “Consensus on the Fences” was written around the great tapping lines & chords Peter created for the first several parts. As you’ll notice from the EP, vocals are not at all at the center of what we do and are treated as any other part. If we reach a section that we feel would really benefit from them , we’ll include them.  In my own humble opinion, everyone in this band is a talent in their own right so inspiration, structure, and riffs come from all directions.

IU: Who came up with the clapping breakdown in "That's a Lot of Aardvark?"

Bubba: Haha, we were aiming for a transitional part to go from the wall of sound that Corey is singing over into that complex rhythm that Gabe comes in with. I’d mentioned how I’d always wanted to do a clap breakdown in my previous project, Bazaar of Guillemots and the guys were into the idea. Gabe modified a version of what he’s playing on kit to work as a precursor to it.

IU: One thing that I love about MTMTM is that the music is technical, but a real joy to listen to. Most technical/math rock comes off to masturbatory or technical for technical’s sake in my opinion. Response?

Interview with THE BODY

For over a decade, Providence, RI duo THE BODY have been clawing past the false and leaving releases of utterly bleak heaviness in their wake.  Turn the page to 2010 and the band drops "All The Waters of the Earth Turn To Blood" - 2xLP of stunning creativity, originality, and pure heaviness - on the unexpected masses.  An additional 30 musicians joined the duo on this epic, including the entire Assembly of Light Choir into the record - an accomplishment in itself and an outright success in their ability to still sound like themselves. Doom, noise, drone, throat singing, and more collided into something freshly evil. The album adorned many year-end "Best of" lists and set a new bar in the avant leanings in doom metal. Ithaca Underground's Bubba Crumrine catches up with the band during a brief break between recording and hitting the road for their next tour which includes a stop on the Scion Rock fest with the likes of Morbid Angel, Agalloch, Floor, Bastard Noise and more. The trek also boasts their first performance in Ithaca, NY at CMSA with locals Hiroshima Vacation, Iwo Jima Medkit, and Genital Holograms on Saturday, Feb 26th - 8PM $5.

IU: "All The Waters of the Earth Turn To Blood" was one of the most ambitious, creative, (and best in my own humble opinion) heavy LPs of 2010 - how did the idea for such an immense collaboration spawn?

We just have really talented friends, it came together pretty organically, someone would happen to be in town and we’d be heading into the studio so they’d come lay something down.

IU: Did you two have a general idea of which musicians you wanted involved and the final result or was it simply a product of all of those people getting together?

We knew we were using the choir and we wanted WORK/DEATH to do some noise parts but  mostly it just kinda came together naturally.

IU: What's the story of syncing up with Assembly of Light Choir for their involvement with the album?

Our friend Chrissy Wolpert started the choir and she’s like our musical soulmate so, it made perfect sense.  Everything she does is so great and we were honored she agreed to record with us.

IU: How have you two been adapting the album for a live setting?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Ithaca's sludgiest, Iwo Jima Medkit have had their share of band changes since we last spoke with them here on FREE!. They picked up why+the+wires skinsman behind their kit, found a vocalist, lost a vocalist, recorded an EP and toured with guest vocalist Andrew Hernandez of Tombs... many a lesser act have derailed under far less constant winds of change, but (as anyone who caught any of their dates on tour would know) these three find themselves at the core of a perpetual motion machine of impenetrable heaviness.  Ithaca Underground's Vii Caso (also of Hiroshima Vacation) catches up with guitarist Dan Howard and bassist Alex Riberio for what's current. Catch them live with Providence, RI's The Body, the aforementioned HxVx, and Genital Holograms this Saturday at CSMA.

IU: You guys recently did a short tour with Painted Rust and Ready Aim Fired, how did that go?

Dan: Yeah, we did a five day mini-tour through New York and Massachusetts. It was totally awesome. The shows were rad and we actually made enough cash to pay for it. One of the best things about the tour was hearing the other two bands play live five days in a row. It was almost like when you buy a new record and obsess over it. I still have Painted Rust riffs stuck in my head!

Alex: In my opinion the tour was great. Playing outside of the Ithaca area was a breath of fresh air. Every place we went to the crowd was all about an original sound, and that is what we are all about. Hanging out with PR & RAF was a BLAST... great artists with a pro attitude, I was kind of expecting a "click" situation but after the show in Ithaca, when we met in Albany it became obvious that we where all in for a good time, becoming friends and playing together.

IU: Any shows in particular stand out?

Dan: Being that the tour was short, I feel like all the shows stand out for some reason or another but playing with the one-man band insanity that is Irradiated Beef in Albany and partying down at J-Kraks house afterward was the shit.

Alex: The show in NY was the best for me. A packed house, good sound system and the perfect vibe.

IU: Which show on the tour would you say had the best audience?

Alex: The best audience I believe was NY. Also Albany as the second, but pretty close.

Dan: Surprisingly, the audience at the Lit Lounge in Manhattan seemed to be the most into it. Surprising because it was a Monday and also because, as the stereotype goes, NYC audiences are usually nonplussed. I guess they just really wanted to hear some metal.

IU: I also understand that Andrew from Tombs did guest vocals for you on that tour? How did that come about?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Ithaca Underground’s Bubba Crumrine snags some time with Alex Nagle and Evan Lipson of Philadelphia’s nearly unclassifiable SATANIZED.  High-energy like punk, heavy like metal, blistering and deafening like noise, but still like none of them, well more than the sum of its parts, and capped off by one of the best live chaos this side of the Mason/Dixon -  this will be an experience to remember for those coming out to The Annex, on Tuesday, Feb 22nd to catch the STNZD men with Philly noise brethren DRUMSLIKEMACHINEGUNS, locals DAADs and Mike (A)!. Let’s get familiar shall we?

IU: What's the current line-up for the band?

-Gaspar, Andrew
-Klopfenstein, Vincent
-Lipson, Evan
-Nagle, Alex

IU: Give us a brief history of Satanized:

AN: I started Satanized in '05 with my drummer friend Matt and a revolving cast of bassists. This incarnation of the band never got it together enough to play shows and dissolved after a few months. Evan came into the picture shortly after. Since we worked well together in Flittermice of Eld and Normal Love, I asked him if he was interested in playing the first batch of Satanized songs and if he knew a suitable drummer. He agreed and got his friend Pete Angevine to play for us. At that point we needed a singer and after a period of searching, I met our first singer Natalie. The band's gestation was now over and we played our first show, auspiciously enough, on 06/06/06. At the end of the summer, Natalie left Philly for college and we replaced her with Andrew.

This first solid lineup played out locally a lot over the next year and in early ’07 we recorded the first CD. Some East Coast touring followed, as did new music. The long-delayed split with AIDS Wolf finally came out early in ’10 and Pete quit in the late spring. Vince took over for him in the fall and we played our debut show with the current lineup with AIDS Wolf’s Philly show in late October. We’re now preparing for tour with Drums Like Machine Guns which will happen in a few weeks!

IU: How did you guys each get into noise & extreme music?

AN: In short it's because I've been into extreme metal since I was a teenager and Relapse records put out a lot of Japanese noise in the 90s. I picked up an issue of Wire magazine because it had a cover story on Coil and that introduced me to a lot of other experimental and electronic music. Along with metal, I've concurrently been into free jazz, modern composition, etc. Another watershed moment for me was when my first real band, Thoughtstreams, played shows on tour with the Infection and Decline lineup of the Flying Luttenbachers. Weasel and my slightly older bandmate Forbes definitely turned me onto a lot of influential stuff I wouldn't have heard otherwise. I don't see Satanized as a noise band though.

EL: My initial exposure to noise also came via the 90's Japanese variety (specifically the work of Otomo Yoshihide and his band Ground Zero), although I never listened to any of the recordings that were put out by Relapse. By that point, I was also pretty steeped in a lot of modernist composition, free jazz, and other types of weird and experimental music, so it wasn't anything that seemed totally foreign or unrelated to me. Concurrently, there was also a burgeoning noise scene that was happening in Philadelphia, thanks largely in part to the efforts of Breathmint Record's label head, instigator, and impresario Mat Rademan (AKA Newton). Andrew was actually the one who was involved much more directly with this, but I can recall one particular instance that took place at The Fun-O-Rama (RIP) around Thanksgiving of '01, in which three future members of Satanized (Andrew, Pete, and myself) performed, in conjunction with Rademan, Wharton Tiers, Joe Lentini, an insanely feral coed, and some ragingly slow-lidded meathead, what was quite possibly the most egregiously reprehensible (and loudest) show of my life. I still feel that I owe Wharton Tiers a heartfelt apology for inviting him to take part in such a disaster. Subsequently, Philly has become quite a magnet for noise-niks in the past 5 or 6 years. To further elucidate what Alex said: although there are certainly 'noisy' and/or potentially chaotic-sounding aspects to our music, there's probably far too much pre-determined order, strategic rigor, coherent rhythms/meters, structural integrity, etc. going on for Satanized to be considered a noise band per se; CALL US ANYTHING BUT LATE FOR DINNER.

IU: How did the split with AIDS Wolf come about?

Band Name: We are "All of Them Witches". I guess this name came about from an infatuation with the movie Rosemary's Baby. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.

Strange to say that we've actually had this name from the beginning when we were a three piece just starting out. About two years after that formation, three different practice spaces in, and one less band member, Roman Polanski reigns supreme.

We're right out of Buffalo; Loving life in the third most impoverished city in America. I think it's conducive to the mental state, even the writing process. All things aside, we love this city.

Formed: Clay molding over the top of metal braces clearly, though the clay is malleable and able to take on many forms... like that blob from the Herculoids... he could turn into tanks.

The original molding was born in October or November of 2009 with the braces of 1/2 of Red Tag Rummage Sale, 1/2 of A Hotel Nourishing, and 1/3 of Patrons of Sweet. After losing the Patron brace, Phil (Red Tag Rummage Sale) decided to make another brace and add a second guitar, the Bass-6, to his playing, thus playing two guitars at once.

Phil Freedenberg- Guitar + Bass-6
Cameron Rogers- Drums

Releases: We've selfishly held onto our work tightly, though we've recorded full lengths twice. The first time was when we were a three piece, but the second time as a two piece.

The two piece recordings were actually just very recently done at Watchmen Studios (it's a great place). We will be releasing the album soon hopefully. We've just been figuring out some different options and talking to a handful of people.

We've been bouncing around with names of the album, so far we've come up with "Underdeveloped Hydration Portfolio" or "The Way Crispin Glover's Character Talks In the Movie, 'River's Edge'"

Don't miss All of them Witches live with Matta Gawa, Keir Neuringer, and Mouth To Mouth To Mouth at the Community School of Music & Arts, 3rd Floor Auditorium, 330 E State St (Martin Luther King Jr. St), Ithaca, NY 14850 8PM $5

Meet The Band: DAADs

Band name: DAADs

Location: At the bar, trying to forget

Formed: Before you were born

Sweatshop Dad
Farm Dad
Lazy Bathrobe Dad
Business Dad
Combover Dad

Releases: "Dad's Best Shirt" full length CD to be released on February 22

Everything else:
Business Dad: Always on the go, workin', workin', workin'... I Skype my son at least two times per week. All about business.

Farm Dad: Simple life... yep.

Lazy Bathrobe Dad: Just woke up, what are we talking about, son? did I miss your birthday?

Sweathshop Dad: Listen up because I'm only saying this once: I'm very proud of you

Combover dad: In a terrible accident at the wheat mill outside of town, the man known as Combover Dad was birthed anew. During the guided tour of the mill, a very pretty lady made a disparaging remark regarding Combover Dad's bald spot when she thought he couldn't hear. But by golly did he hear. Picking up a jar of crisco and a plastic comb at a stripmall dimestore, a hero was finally born.

See DAADs live with SATANIZED, drumslikemachineguns, DAADs, and Mike (A)! at the GreenStar Annex, 700 W Buffalo, Ithaca, NY 14850 this Tuesday, Feb 22nd 8PM $5 All ages.

Photo by  Maciej Wojtkowiak

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Many local bands that Ithaca Underground has worked with over the last few years have released DIY demos which have found comfy homes on the shelves at Pirate House HQ. We'll always enjoy them and they'll be a good glimpse at the bands we were enjoying during these years.

Recently, however, there has been a handful of bands who have been looking to take their recorded sound to the next level, in an attempt to better demonstrate their full capabilities and sonic prowess, as they would live.

Today, we take a look at one of studios in the area which has been a cornerstone to the overall CNY music community for decades: Pyramid Sound Studios. We discuss the studio, recent projects, and a studios role in today's ever changing music industry with engineer/producer Phil Abbott.

IU: Can you give us a brief history of Pyramid Sound Studios?

Phil: In the 70's, Alex Perialas' father was running a talent agency which would book bands across the East Coast.  As far as I know, it was illegal for clubs to book their own bands without an agency.  I may be wrong.  But, anyway, the studio was built alongside the talent agency.  A few people cycled through as engineers before Alex decided to just run it himself.  So, juggling schooling at IC and full-time studio work, Alex started engineering and has been the main guy since.  He's worked with greats such as Anthrax, Testament, SOD and even had the likes of Ginuine and Missy Elliot come through.  He has also had various engineers/producers working out of the studio, and that's where I come in.

IU: What's your recording & music background?

Phil: I've been a cellist since I was 5 and took up tuba and guitar in middle school.  In middle school, Pete "McAwesome" and I formed a band with two friends of ours.  We didn't really play out much, but we played all originals in that bedroom, and it was the foundation of my interest in recording.  The first recording I was a part of was done with a single mic hung from the ceiling with our amps spaced around it to create the 'mix'.  The medium was an Aiwa tape/cd/radio boombox.  Our singer/guitarist would hit the record button with his toe after counting off.  We even punched in this way.  In high school, the band pitched in and bought a tascam studio-in-the-box thing-a-ma-gig and I ended up buying it off of them.  It worked great and we could record multiple tracks!  My dad got me Recording for Dummies and I recorded some demos using it as a reference.  In the coming years, I got a BM in Sound Recording from Ithaca College with a focus in cello.  At school I abused my studio privileges with any band I could find that would come in.  This is the time I valued the most--just trying again and again to make good sounding recordings.  Learning how to use the gear, deal with people and generally what works and what doesn't.

IU: How did you come to be working at Pyramid?

Thursday, February 3, 2011

These questions were answered by Nathaniel Rappole in conjunction with Frayser Micou (aka The Impostor), whose answers are made as if he were the former.  The *'s signify what is happening in the moment of the answering.

*Frayser is making breakfast. We are in his kitchen.  It is 11:20 AM. The bacon is frying.*

IU: Where did the idea for initiating a one-man project and the imagery behind Gull start?

NR - It is important to do some things alone. The imagery/skull mask came into play while I was living in Philadelphia (circa 2003).

I needed a way in which to hold the telephone mic close to my face.  My good friend Graydon had a paper skull mask, and my pal Brian had some electrical know how and a soldering gun.  gullskullgullskull = serendipity.

FM - I was watching groucho marx and he spoke to me.  He said "you can do any fucking thing you want to in this world..."  he said this with not his eyes, but his brows.  It was then that I realized my drummer wasn't playing the parts I wanted, my bass player only wanted to swim, and my guitarist (me) was overshadowing me. I needed to venture off into the abyss of self emulation.

Burn baby burn.

*The grits are on... they take a slow hand.*

IU: Where along the timeline did the project evolve in relation to your other bands Ultra Dolphins and Snack Truck?