This is the first record in awhile for you guys?
Matt: This is our first official record. We did an art book release a few years ago with OHWOW, which was about a fifty-page book with artwork contributed by friends, and it had a CD of self recorded songs with it. This is our first proper studio record.
What label are you guys working with for the new release?
M Deus Records.
What can you tell me about the process of making the new record?
Brain: It was a pretty long process. We wrote the songs in a rehearsal place over on Rivington Street, which is now gone. We built up the songs with drum machines and samplers until we had an album worth of demos at which point, Gabe Andruzzi from the band The Rapture, an old friend of ours from when we lived in DC, was getting into production and had just finished building a studio on the roof of a factory in Greenpoint. The timing was right and we all decided that we would make the record there with him producing. He has this very detailed recording style and an incredible collection of vintage synths.
M With Gabe, the songs became something else entirely even though the basic imprint of them remained the same. He became like a third member for the duration of the recording.
With the release, do you have specific plans for how it’s going to be put out? Is it going to be on vinyl or just digital?
M On June 9th, it will be released on vinyl and across digital platforms. We’ve had a very slow…
B Call it organic.
M Yeah, an organic rollout. In the fall, we had a digital single of the song "Powering." And then at some point, we put out a double 12” of remixes by Secret Circuit, Tom Of England, Ivan Smagghe, and Trus’me. A little later Timothy Saccenti made a great video for the song "Klerin Priest". He has done videos for Depeche Mode and Run The Jewels and also made incredible artwork for the new album by Run The Jewels.
What are your thoughts regarding touring in the age of the viral video? Do you think it has the same relevance as before?
B The video is probably more efficient.
M Touring has become slightly less important, and that has worked out for us, and probably all New York bands, because historically it’s hard for bands from here to leave. For instance, in the 70's it was hard to leave because you didn’t have your connection. That’s why the New York Dolls never left, because Johnny Thunders couldn’t leave town. Ever since the late 80's or early 90's, it’s fucking impossible to leave unless you’re really well off. For most bands, you can’t miss work and pay rent with what you’re making on tour.
Do you have plans for touring this record?
M It’s something we are going to have to do strategically.
B We’re not really in the position to go out and road dog it at this point. We have done that in the past—criss-crossing the country, building things up, but now I can’t afford it.
M I would come back and not have a place to live.
B The days of the million dollar record deals and tour support for rock bands like us is over.
M It’s kind of six to one, half a dozen to the other, the way that a video can raise your notoriety, it allows you to be strategic in your touring. It’s always good to go out there and do the roadwork. It just makes it more efficient.
It’s like the ultimate amplifier.
B When you do go out I think people want something experiential. So say you’re Mykki Blanco, a great artist—we know him. The word gets out virally and when people go out to see him perform they really, really want that experience. In a way, it’s an intense reflection of how much time people are spending reading about him on their phones.
M And if you serve it up hard like Mykki does, then it’s just going to build like crazy. Like you said—it’s the ultimate amplifier.
You guys have a real history that I encourage people to check out on their own, because that is an article unto itself. That being said, is there anything you want to get off of your chest, or is it more like, "Fuck it—past is the past, let’s get on with the present and into the future"?
B I think more towards the latter.
M It has been a double edged sword for us in that we may not have benefited from the fruits of our labors if we had stayed the course like some others, but we also don’t have to wallow in our past. Every band we’ve done, we have made records, and by the time we have played some shows the songs have changed. People would come up after a show and ask why we didn’t play a song they liked off the record. I would look at them and say we had played it, it's just completely different now.
B I think the idea with this is to put out a record that we like and see how people respond. I think enough has passed and things cycle so fast that when it comes to the A.R.E. Weapons connection, a lot of the kids have no fucking idea. That’s totally fine, and I wouldn’t expect them to. It’s funny to see when kids put the pieces together and they’re like, "Wait a minute, oh yeah, you guys are those guys. I mean if you moved to the city six years ago why would you know about that. I support people being twenty-four.
M Once again it’s the double-edged sword thing. We might miss out on a little respect but we also miss out on the baggage.
Did you guys read that book that just came out about the early 2000s scene in New York?
B No, is it good? Is it called Meet Me In The Bathroom?
Yeah. What I’ve seen seems like anecdotal recollections from a certain perspective. I think it doesn’t touch on a lot of things that were happening at that time.
M Yeah I mean, she probably didn’t interview anyone from Split Me Wide Open, or fucking Jim Loman from Centuries. Is Gang Gang Dance in there?
B I talked to Adam Green yesterday and he was mentioning being interviewed for the book.
Just to steer this back into the present—around the city, you guys have a great reputation as a live act. That’s something I’ve heard for years now.
B I’ll accept that.
M That’s something we strive for, bringing a certain energy and spirit.
B There is something about not getting our historical due, which reinforces bringing it hard every time.
What’s the setup when you guys hit live?
M Brain is on guitar, and there are synths and drum machines with sequenced tracks. I sing and play a bit of sax.
Any key pieces of gear that are part of your guy’s signature sound?
M The Roland TR 808 drum machine, and a Korg Mighty Mofo Keyboard.
And when you play live, do you ever expand beyond the duo? I know you guys have been playing together and influencing one another since your teens.
M Since we were fifteen, we’ve often said that we wish there were two more of us. We could keep the same kind of dynamic and understanding because a lot of our stuff is built on a historical knowledge of music. Even though what we are doing now and when we're in A.R.E. Weapons is simple, it's run through the history of free jazz and avant-garde music going back to the early 20th century, and folk music, without necessarily showing it. And with Gabe Andruzzi, who we have known since we were eighteen, we put ourselves through music school stealing CDs from Tower Records and reading all the liner notes.
What brought you here to New York from DC?
B We were asked by Thurston Moore and Chris Corsano to play on a bill at The Cooler. When we came to the city and hung out under those circumstances, it was a revelation. There was also a distinct lack of women in the scene in DC at that time. I had an incredible couple of years in DC where we met the people from Gang Gang Dance and Mick Barr and we hung out at The Embassy—the Nation of Ulysses house. The time came, though, where we knew New York was the place for us and we moved up here.
Any venues that you guys feel a connection to here in NYC?
B We’ve played a whole lot in Max Fish in the basement.
M That’s kind of our home stadium.
B We’ve also played Baby’s All Right, which is very musician friendly.
M We’re always looking for shows that aren’t in typical rock clubs where it’s doors at eight three bands in a row and a bunch of people standing around with a drink.
B One of the best shows recently was a party where a woman we know rented out a restaurant and brought in a PA system.
I know you guys need to get to rehearsal. I just wanted to ask you what is that book you have? It looks like an old Modern Library edition.
M It’s Light In August by William Faulkner.
Anything you are reading lately, Brain?
B Yeah, Perfidia by James Ellroy.
Dignity Don’t Dance LP by TV Baby is out June 9th on Deus Records.