Monday, November 28, 2011

It's that time of year again! Time for another 10 hours of awesome music down at The Haunt with Ithaca Underground. We're extremely honored to be hosting Parts & Labor on this our fifth Big Day In event (our third winter version).  Why are we so smitten to have this band in particular?  We'll beyond them being one of the best bands to merge noise, punk, and pop mentalities, after what will be a 10 year run, this Ithaca performance is their final outside of Brooklyn before their pending infinite hiatus.  Ithaca Underground's Bubba Crumrine catches up with founding members BJ Warshaw and Dan Friel - both of whom have performed their own solo acts in Ithaca previously - regarding their latest LP "Constant Future", the possible end of Parts & Labor, and what's next.

IU: First off, I must say we're utterly enthralled with the idea of Parts & Labor's long-anticipated debut in Ithaca.  Sadly, it sounds as though it may be our last. Could you give us and our readers some insight on the cause for hanging the project up for now and what you'll all be focusing on in the meantime?

BJ: We're very excited to finally be playing Ithaca, at long last!

There's not one, central reason for the impending hiatus.  We each have a lot of personal things, families and occupations, that have begun to take up more of our time.  That and our geographical separation has made frequent collaboration and touring increasingly tricky (Joe still lives in Milwaukee, Dan lives in Brooklyn, and I
live in New Jersey).  But mainly we felt ending strongly with a celebration, after 10 years of touring and making records, made a lot of sense.  There's really no discord between us.

We've all got other musical endeavors you'll be hearing from.  I'll be working on Shooting Spires.  Dan's working on a new solo record.  Joe continues to make music for film/TV through his company Noisola.

IU: Glad we'll still have those things to look forward to.  As Parts & Labor, you guys have had a great run of LPs, EPs, tours, collaborations, and collaborators making fantastic noise -  what are some of your favorite highlights?

BJ: Off the top of my head, some very recent memories top my list: Working with Dave Fridmann on "Constant Future" and touring Japan this past July.  Other fond highlights would include getting to play some incredible festivals (ATP, Siren, Primavera, Supersonic).  Appearing on NPR and Sound Opinions.  Meeting Brian Eno while on tour with Battles in the UK.

IU: Any recorded material that you have that we'll see posthumously?

BJ: As a "going away" gift, we release "No Nostalgia", a song recorded during the "Receivers" sessions but left off of that record:

Otherwise, I don't think we have anything in the vaults that we'd collectively deem releasable; just lots of demo versions of songs and half-finished recordings.  I'd say probably not, but who knows.

IU: Not to keep stressing the end before it's time, let's focus on Constant Future - how was working with the aforementioned Dave Fridmann?  How did the approach to the album differ from Receivers?  How was working with Nicholas Chatfield-Taylor on another video? Give us the downlow!

BJ: Fridmann was incredible.  It was our first real experience working with a "producer", although we record 98% of the record before starting our mixing sessions with Dave.  Most days he'd mix while we'd play video games and watch "The Prisoner" on laser disc; he preferred to have us out of his way during the initial mixing.  We'd come in later in the process and make changes, suggestions, and we'd all work together to get to the final mix for each song.  Dave had an intuitive sense about how to make our music bigger without sacrificing
definition.  In particular, we were looking for his signature bombastic drum sounds, and we got 'em in spades.

There were a few main differences from "Receivers".  For one thing, we were WAY more prepared when we entered the studio for tracking.  With "Receivers" we were still basically arranging while we were recording
over half of the record, which worked fine in some cases but made the process perhaps more stressful than it needed to be.  For another, we went through a ton of songs and ideas leading up to making "Constant
Future", and chose our favorites for the album.  In all it was a much more confident writing and recording process for us.

Working with Nick was wonderful.  I'll always be in awe of his ability to pull in a large group of people to build something wonderful -- and usually in very little time and with very little resources. Financially we had little to offer him, but he was still been able to pull off elaborate feats of video shooting and editing.  In the case of "Echo Chamber", I think we all knew what we were getting into a bit more than with "Gold We're Digging", as far as insane numbers takes and mind-scrambling repetition to achieve the "animated band" effect.
But "Echo Chamber" also was shot during and as a part of a huge group art show called "Sequence of Waves" in an old convent in Brooklyn, so that added an extra element of fun and chaos to the proceedings.  Nick also makes a bitching kale and fruit smoothie; kept us healthy in the frigid, February church.

IU:  Sounds awesome. You did the artwork and accompanying website for "Constant Future", correct?  What other visual projects have you been involved in outside of P&L?

BJ: Yep, I've done the art for all of our full length albums.  Outside of P&L, I've done a few other album covers.  With my girlfriend Marie, I made the cover to "The Green Corridor I", a split LP between Oneida
and Pterodactyl, part of a four-LP series on Altin Village:

I did another one for a UK band called the Defribillators:

I also made a series of Video Flyers for some shows:

I've done some web art projects, too, none of which I think are online anymore.  I've been thinking as P&L winds down that I'd like to do more visual art.  We shall see what happens.

IU: How was the collaborative tour with Pterodactyl earlier this year? We just had them out at the start of Nov.  Any chance someone recorded Joe playing with you guys and Dan with them?

BJ: That was fun, although it must've been exhausting for Dan and Joe doing double duty.  Especially at SXSW, where each band played multiple shows.  Joe had played with P&L before (and he plays guitar
on "Vision of Repair" off the album "Mapmaker"), and we've been friends for years, so the collaboration just made a lot of intrinsic sense.  I know I have footage of at least one show with Joe (the "Constant Future" record release party), but have yet to put it online.  We'll have to go through our archive someday.

IU: Dan, I'm a little late on this one but, tell me about Emergencynth... hearing things...

Dan: Nice. The Emergencynth is this rad little synth box designed and hand made by our friend Kayrock. He also used to play with Oneida, and runs Kayrock screenprinting (who have done various flyers, shirts and
artwork for us).  He asked me and some folks from Oneida, Trans-Am and a few other bands to write the little demonstration melodies that it comes programmed with (like the demos on a toy keyboard). You can
check it out here:

IU: Cool! Will scope this out further.   Any final words to the good folks of Ithaca, everyone coming to Big Day In, and anyone else who may come across this in the vastness that is the interwebs?

BJ: Let's rock.

Don't miss Parts & Labor live at Big Day In on December 3rd at The Haunt (702 Willow Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850) with the likes of Algernon Cadwallader, Summer People, SIRS, HotChaCha, Megachurch, The Sidekicks, and more! 12 band, 10 hours, $5. Doors open at noon and music starts shortly after.