Thursday, December 19, 2013
Anyway here is his interview. Enjoy! And thanks for reading. <3
I started playing in my elementary school band, but I don't think I actually touched a drum set until I was a teenager. It’s weird because I didn’t exactly pick drums, my dad had played them when he was a kid and my parents thought it would help me with school. It paid off because all my siblings had to do sports in high school, I got away with marching band. To be honest I wasn’t into it at first and complained a lot... I wanted to learn guitar but they thought that would only lead to me doing irresponsible things like playing in bands and living out of a car for weeks at a time instead of getting a career.
2-Talk about any other early bands that you were in before brick mower.
My first band was in 8th grade we just covered a couple blink-182 songs- still think that was my best one. After that I basically ran the gamut of suburban kid band genres - punk, ska, hardcore, weezer covers. I played in a reggae/punk band for a few years during college, probably not the best precursor to a band like brick mower, but luckily I loved enough of the same bands as Eric and Kristin that I could get it together.
3-How did you meet Eric and Kristin and what was it like joining a band that had already been in progress?
I had stupid luck and found Eric and Kristin on craigslist. I remember Eric sending me a link to their Myspace page and listening to Until It Hurts My Arm. Joining a band in progress was exactly what I wanted, I hadn't really been playing for the past year and I wanted to get right back into playing shows and start finally touring.
4-What is the songwriting process like with mower?
We have a pretty simple dynamic. Eric and Kristin usually bring a song- or part of one- to practice and I come up with a drum part. Once we all kind of know what we're doing, we just play the song over and over again until it all falls into place. Then usually I’ll screw up some part of it and it’ll sound a lot better than what I came up with so I’ll just start doing that instead. It’s pretty much foolproof.
5- What is the recording process like with mower?
Almost all the songs we’ve done were live tracked. There’s one track on the new album we just recorded which was the first time we tracked everything separately. Otherwise we mainly stick to the 3 tries rule: if we cant get it in 3 tries, we put the song aside and try again later. It only takes a day or two for us to track most of an album. I know Eric and Kristin went really hard on the new tracks with mixing and over dubs. I haven’t gotten to hear any of it yet but even they’re psyched with the way it sounds.
6-What is you dream drum kit? Do you have any pet peeves with other drummers?
My dream drum kit weighs five pounds and folds up to fit in a backpack. Holy crap that would be awesome. No, I don’t really have any gear preferences, in fact if I had to buy a new kit tomorrow I have no idea what I’d look for. I put my drums through so much abuse anyway, I’d feel odd buying a nice one. So many pet peeves, I’d sound like a spazz if I listed all of them. The definite worst though is when drummers twirl their sticks between hits. I cringe every time I see it.
7-How do you feel touring affects a band musically and personally?
It definitely changed the way I looked at my function in a band. I try to look at whatever I come up with and make sure it’s what will compliment the band as a whole. It doesn’t pay to pull of a more complex fill or weird beat if it doesn’t match the rest of the song. Kind of like no one part should be pulling at too much of the attention.
And maybe it has to do with having to sit together in a car for hours upon hours, but you also learn how to get along with people. You put up with their bad days because they put up with yours - one of the best lessons I think someone can learn growing up. I honestly have no idea how people transition to adulthood without touring in a band. It became such a common thing to do so fast. My normal is weird.
8- What are your parents like? Do you have any siblings? Whats the deal with them?
My parents are your average conservative baby-boomer types. We disagree on a lot of stuff but we find ways to get along. I have an older brother and two older sisters, they all have their own families so that means I have a wealth of nieces and nephews to play Legos with on holidays. Their ages, names, and nicknames are as follows:
(6) Ryan “Hambone”
(5) Malena “Malenasaur”
(3) Nathan “Nasty Nate”
(2) Molly “Molly Kong”
(2) Izzy “Izzy”
(1) Lucy “Worm”
9-What made you want to be a musician instead of being a fan/spectator?
I’ve always had this thing where when I see people doing something cool, I’m never ok with just watching. Even now my apartment is filled with a bunch of unfinished projects, like the half chapter of the novel I’ve been writing for two years or the stand up act I never had the guts to try. I don’t know if it’s the best quality, but it definitely paid off with music. I remember going to my first shows at the Middletown Knights of Columbus and watching local bands for the first time. For a short, anti-social nerd with no friends, getting on that five inch high stage and playing to a bunch of awkward high school kids looked like the coolest thing in the world! I wanted nothing more than to play a show, then after that it was playing a basement, then playing out of state, going on tour, seeing the west coast, now I just really want to play another country. (Canada counts)
10-You just made the decision to start studying at a culinary institute for baking? How did that come about?
Well it was more like something I couldn’t avoid. I’ve always loved baking since I was a little kid and it just seemed like the right thing to pursue now. I’m really sick of working construction which I’ve been doing for the past year and a half, so I started looking at schools and everything just kind of fell into place, kind of like it was meant to be. So yeah, by this time next year I’ll be a pastry chef. It’s pretty cool to think about.
11-Any ghost stories?
Just one, I’m pretty sure you know it already too. One of our tours we were staying at this kind of creepy house. The friend putting us up said there were two empty bedrooms, one we could use and another one we should leave alone. Through a weird confusion involving a bunch of cats and people switching up their spots sleeping, I ended up sleeping in what I thought was the bedroom we were allowed to use. I ignored all creepy feelings and staring cats until I fell asleep.
I woke up to the bed shaking underneath me. It scared me awake and when I told everyone no one was as surprised because apparently everyone knew that room was haunted but me.
That’s the best I got. Kristin’s are so much better.
Thanks Steve! Also, I do remember that ghost story. (gulp)
Check out the brick mower bandcamp here.
Happy holidays everyone. <3
Monday, November 25, 2013
SO. I interviewed David Yow, the lead singer of the Jesus Lizard and Scratch Acid.
When I asked Mr. Yow for this interview, he could have said no thanks and I would have completely understood. Instead this sweet gentleman gave me his phone number and said to call him whenever. So I did. On Halloween. It seemed appropriate!
Jeff transcribed this and was kind enough to leave out most of my insane fan-girl rambling. And then upon editing, I was was smart enough to remove the REST of my insane fan-girl rambling. ENJOY FOLKS! <3
Miranda: The first thing I want to ask about are the recent acting projects that you’ve been involved in, and if you could talk about what got you into acting, and that kind of thing.
David: Sure. I took acting...I took DRAMA...in high school a bunch, but I wasn’t so serious about it. Then in Chicago at the end of the eighties/early nineties, I knew this fellow named Jim Sikora, an indie filmmaker. For some reason or another he thought I was good on camera and asked if I’d do a couple movies. I did, I guess, a total of four movies with him. I didn’t do much after that. After the Jesus Lizard broke up, I moved out to Los Angeles, mostly to do graphic art and photo retouching stuff, and also hoping to eventually maybe do some more acting. Early on, about 2003 or so, I put together a reel on a dvd, and I talked to some people at the William Morris Agency. There was a guy there, and I told him I put a reel together cause I wanted to do some acting, and he said “Oh, this is gonna be easy. Get me five copies of it on DVD and in no time, we’ll have you set up.” And, so, about 6 to 8 weeks later I hadn’t heard from him, so I called him and he said “Oh, yeah, yeah, sorry. Nobody was interested.” Well, it was because my reel, well, it sucked. There was nothing on there, certainly nothing that was impressive or that would make a casting director go “Hey, I gotta have that guy!”
But then, some years ago-seven years ago-a fellow named Dennis Hauck asked if I’d like to be in a western that he was doing and I got into it. It was really, really fun. Then I did a couple other tiny things, and I decided to pursue it more diligently. I took some improv classes, acting classes, workshops, did some writing classes and monologue classes. Some of that stuff has been tremendously helpful, some of it was just throwing money down the toilet. I was really, really nervous, either in rehearsals or just reading lines, certainly when the camera was rolling I’d get nervous and get choked up and not do it the way it’s supposed to be done. Then recently I worked with Bill Hellfire on Upsidedown Cross and when we wrapped that weekend, having shot two days in New York and then having shot stuff in New Jersey, something just happened at that time where I wasn’t afraid anymore and it was like turning a corner. It became really really fun. Like when the teacher says “Relax, have fun with it” and both those times I really had fun. Then I came home and shot this thing where I was a restaurant manager and it was fun and easy, and there’s just tons of stuff going on-I’ve got three scripts that I’ve been asked to do, there’s a famous guy who’s written a script where I’d be a hitman and we’d shoot in NY, NJ and Manchester. Tons of cool stuff.
M: That’s awesome. What do you feel helped you get over the fear? Was it just something that happened all of a sudden, or were there certain techniques that you employed to make it easier for yourself?
D: I think it’s experience. It’s a culmination of the number of things I’ve done up to now. I don’t even know how many movies I’ve done now. I mean, none of them are that big of a deal, but they’re all experience, and I think that the cumulative effect of these things sort of got me to the point where I’m not as afraid. In auditions I was absolutely petrified, but a couple of weeks ago I had an audition and it was FUN. It was the casting director, the producer, and the director, and the movie is very weird and disjointed, and I didn’t really understand the script. I asked the director a couple of questions beforehand, and we did the scene, and he said-twice, “That’s exactly how I pictured it.” So I said “That’s great!” Then he didn’t call me back, which is a very Hollywood thing, but the fact that it was fun was huge. I think it’s the experience.
M: Right, like once you do it enough and you’re not scared, you’re like “I don’t NEED to be scared to do this at all.” That kind of thing?
D: Yeah! So many years ago I had an audition in Chicago, and I’d sort of become friends with Michael Shannon, and I talked to him the morning before I had this audition and I told him how nervous I was, and he goes “Fuck that! What are you nervous for? Fuck those people. Just go there, show them what it is, and get out of there. Who gives a fuck what they think?!” And I was going “Man, I wish I could have that attitude. There’s no way I can think that way.” And I still don’t think that way, really, it’s more along the lines where I’m just not afraid of them.
M: That’s great. Relating to what you were just talking about, I wanted to ask about this: I just read that you were not originally supposed to be the singer of Scratch Acid, you were supposed to be the bass player, and then the singer got kicked out so David Wm. Sims moved to bass and you moved to singing. Were you prepared to be the singer? Had you ever sung before? Did you have stage fright?
D: I had not really had experience before, but it’s funny that you ask about stage fright, because the first show we played where I was singing was at a place in Austin called the Skyline Club, and it was us-we played first, Butthole Surfers, The Big Boys, and TSOL…
M: That’s insane.
D: …and I’m terrified. I threw up all day long.
M: Oh my god!
D: I was absolutely terrified. I had crazy stage fright.
M: And you had only sung at practice? You hadn’t sung in previous bands? That was your first experience as a singer?
D: Yeah, I’d never sang in front of more than three people.
M: That’s intense. And so, do you feel like there’s a relationship between what you do on stage as a singer and the acting you’ve been doing? Not like cause and effect, but what’s in common between those?
D: I think only the performance aspect of it. At least with any of the bands that I’ve been in I’ve had completely free rein- particularly live- to do whatever the fuck I wanted, to either sing the real words or make up words, or not even sing words at all, or go over there and do whatever. Whereas, most of the time with acting, you have very specific things you have to say in a specific way, and a specific thing you have to be doing at the same time. So, as far as that goes, they’re pretty different.
But the most nerve wracking stuff…it depends on the role. Like I told you, I came back here and shot the thing where I’m a restaurant manager and it was really straight forward-I was basically just talking to this woman. But then the stuff I did with Bill Hellfire in NJ, there was a lot of quote-unquote “performance” going on, and that’s a little more analogous to the band stuff where you have to continually step outside of yourself and do things that you would never ever otherwise do.
M: Right. And for the sake of it being a good show, that kind of thing, you would go above and beyond?
D: Exactly. Erin Russ and I talked about a scene in Upsidedown Cross where I had to throw her into an ice bath, and she, understandably, didn’t want to do that. I was saying it’s only going to be four minutes of hell, and it’ll be great for the movie, and that’s what we’re here for. You have to make those sacrifices to make the movie as good as it can be. I told her I have to eat fried eggs and it makes me want to throw up, but for the sake of the movie it was kind of fun to choke that shit down. That was our pact. If you take the ice bath I have to eat a fried egg.
M: Haha! That seems fair! So, what led to your vocal style? Do you have inspirations? There are some singers where I know exactly what the person is going for, and when I listen to you I have no idea. It’s really unique in that way. I’m wondering if you could talk about what led to your vocal style, and what kind of vocalists you listened to that brought you to that?
D: Well, when I was a teenager I was a huge Led Zeppelin fan, but I was also aware that Robert Plant was the weakest link in Led Zeppelin. There some things he would occasionally do that I liked. When punk rock came around, I was a huge fan of Lee Ving, Lux Interior, Johnny Rotten, and particularly Birthday Party-era Nick Cave, and I think that’s pretty apparent, especially in Scratch Acid and early Jesus Lizard stuff. But, because I wasn’t very good at, you know, traditional singing, I had to work with what I had. So I think my limitations probably forced me to make adjustments…
M: Like in vocal performance?
D: Yeah well I can’t sing very pretty, but I make these awful noises a lot, and that’ll be entertaining. I think early on with Scratch Acid I listened to a live tape before we put out a record and it just sounded like this kid trying to rip off like Nick Cave. I remember thinking “I’ve got to stop that!” You know, I didn’t WANT to do that. But, I think it’s very natural and acceptable. In whatever artform, or endeavors, where you are particularly enthralled by something that someone else has done, its normal for you to imitate that. And then hopefully, ideally you metamorphose into your own thing, and I hope that something like that happened.
M: Undoubtedly. Do you feel like your singing evolved a lot? Can you talk a little bit about the evolution from your earliest singing to the later Jesus Lizard records, and even today?
D: Early on it was really tweak-y. There were all kinds of horrible squeaks and things that would happen because I had no control over my voice. And I didn’t really care. I wasn’t trying to have control-I didn’t bother with singing lessons. Hitting the right pitch or the right key-I don’t remember that ever being a concern. If I felt like it worked with whatever we were doing, I’d stick with it. As far as trying to harmonize, I don’t think that really happened. After the Jesus Lizard broke up and I came to Los Angeles, I joined a band called Qui, that was just a three piece. Those two guys are really good and taught me a lot. Paul Christiansen taught me a lot. I actually took lessons from him. I don’t care much about playing music these days, but I can sing better now than I did then. (Mock vocal warm-up scale)
M: Nice! Can you talk about the songwriting process for the Jesus Lizard, and if lyrics or music came first? And also what was it like to be in a band with three of the best players of all time, as far as I’m concerned.
D: There were no rules as far as like, the music came first or the lyrics came first-both happened. We talked about trying to write music around the words a couple times, though I don’t think we ever did that. Duane in particular really liked the idea of me writing something and figuring out some kind of phrasing that I like and then building a song around that. I don’t think we ever ended up doing that. But, gosh, the lyrics. Jeez, Miranda, I don’t remember. A lot of them came from dreams I had. From the beginning of the song to the end of the song there’s not necessarily a cohesive thing where it’s about one or two things. Often I felt it was more important what it sounded like than what it was saying. My father was really quite a wordsmith, and I think I inherited a bit of that. There were some little cleverisms that I liked, but it was never really important to me if that came across. If I wrote some line and was like “Oh, that’s a good line.” I was more concerned with the way it sounded than with somebody saying “Ooh that’s a cool line.”
M: Cool. What was the recording process like? Do you have any specific memories or anything funny to share about the recording process with The Jesus Lizard?
D: Well, specifically with the Jesus Lizard, like you said, the other three guys were pretty good at what they did. We practiced like motherfuckers. We rehearsed like crazy and we toured a lot, so whenever we went into the studio, unless there was something brand spankin’ new that we wanted to work on, we had it down. Certainly 75% of it, at least. So, it was usually really quick, and Steve (Albini) was very efficient. I think in his world, you never really need to do more than two takes, and we never really did more than one or two takes. We had all the screws tightened down before we went in.
Some of the stuff Steve did was pretty cool, sort of experimental mic-ing. He did all sorts of kooky things. They would tape microphones to my head, or I would be inside of a trash can. They would have a microphone on a stand in front of my mouth, and then another microphone hanging from the ceiling about a sixteenth of an inch from the other microphone, and as I started singing I would swing the one hanging from the ceiling so that as it passed by the other one the phase would shift. Goofy shit. It changes things. I don’t if it necessarily makes it better, but he was really into that kind of thing, and I got a kick out of it.
M: Yeah. I’m sure it makes it more unique sounding, even if you’re not really aware of what exactly is happening when you’re listening to it.
D: Yeah, instead of (sings a note), it would go (sings a modulating note.)
M: Nice. Did you have any specific things that you used to do to record vocals? The vocals are so performance based-I’m trying to say it the right way... I mean, it seems like you couldn’t really make it sound right without doing it full on. Did you have specific things you would do when you when you were recording your vocals to make it as real as possible?
D: Usually we’d drink way too much. I was soused. For instance, when we recorded Head, we had a list on the wall, a checklist of things that had been done and things remaining to be done. We came in one morning after being in the night before and the song “Pastoral” was checked off, and I said “No, I still have to sing that.” They said “You did that one last night.” That’s the version on the record. I was so drunk I didn’t know I did it.
M: Can you talk about the Jesus Lizard book that just came out, ”Book?”
D: Sure. I’m not certain actually how it came about. I think it was Johnny Temple from Girls Against Boys, who runs the publishing company Akashic. I think it was his idea. He approached us about it, and my knee jerk reaction was, “What a tremendous waste of time.” We broke up, I don’t even know how long, fourteen years ago? I really didn’t see any point in doing the book. But we talked more about it, and had some ideas and stuff. I said if I can design it, I’d be willing to do it. Because-I don’t want to get into specifics-but the things that have been released that I had nothing to do with I was not particularly happy with. And I was not willing to have a book come out on us where I didn’t like the way it looked. So, we started doing it and we got a shit-ton of photographs from different people. We scanned them, color corrected them, retouched them, and sort of got an overall look I wanted for the book. Then we handed them off to Henry Owings who does Chunklet Magazine, who has a much much better grasp on how to lay out a book. So, he did the layout, after I sort of figured out what it should look like, and I’m really, really excited about it now. I have a copy of it at home. It looks great. I think it’s completely worthwhile. There’s tons of written stuff in it by a lot of contributors-particularly, to me, Alex Hacke from Einsturzende Neubauten and Mike Watt are just incredible. Really, really great! Mike’s piece is like beatnik, Dada, Abstract, Jackson Pollack. It’s great. The way he writes…it’s like he’s got his own language. But yeah, they’re great photos of us as kids, each of the four of us, stuff about our lives, a detailed list of every single show we played. It’s really worthwhile.
D: I think the pre-orders will ship before Christmas, but they’re not going to be in stores until February or March.
M: Okay, I just want to ask a couple more things about personal stuff, and then we’ll be done. Thank you so much. I really appreciate this.
D: Of course!
M: What were your parents like growing up?
D: Well, in the book I describe where I was born and I describe my mother and father, and I think the last line in the paragraph about my mom, I think I said “I’m not lying when I say that my mom was the sweetest little woman to ever walk the face of the Earth.”
M: Aww. That’s nice.
D: That was my mom. My dad was pretty great. He was a fighter pilot, he flew incredible airplanes and did some amazingly dangerous things. He was an officer in the Air Force, so there was a fair amount of the discipline and regimentation, and he could be a real fuckin’ prick. There was a time, right after high school, like right when the punk rock thing was going on where he and I did not like each other at all. At all. And then so many years later, he kind of cleaned up his act, and the last thirteen years of his life, we were really tight. I’m really grateful for that.
M: That’s great. Really great. Do you have any siblings?
D: I have a sister who is two years older than me. She lives in central Texas with her enormous family.
M: Do you still hang out with her?
D: No, no. We talk on Christmas, her birthday, and my birthday.
M: Was there something that made you want to be in a band as opposed to just being a spectator or fan? And not to say that there’s anything wrong with that, but was there anything that specifically made you go “I want to do this and not just watch it?”
D: I think punk rock. When I was a little kid I was a huge Beatles freak, and I’m old enough that I bought the 7" when they came out. Like I bought the “Hey Jude” 7 inch when it came out and stuff. I was living in Virginia at the time, and then we moved to England in the early and mid 70s when there was T. Rex and Slade and The Sweet and I loved all that shit and then Led Zeppelin and stuff. But with that kind of music, I didn’t have the wherewithal or the desire to learn to play an instrument well enough to play in one of those bands. They were so far removed from anything that I would be interested in. But then when the punk rock came along, I loved the idea of the sort of do it yourself-ness and that you didn’t have to be very good at what you were doing. I think that’s what opened a door for me, like “I’m not gonna be good either!”
M: Ha. I think that happened a lot. I think, like, a lot of people feel that way.
D: And about that time, I lived in this little house with a friend in Austin, when I was in my first little band called “Toxic Shock” where I played bass. We would do whatever to get a show. Behind the house we lived in was this garage where this other band practiced and they were sort of like prog-rock, jazz-fusion. They were really really good at it. Now... I didn’t care much for it, but they were really good. But it never occurred to them to play a show! They would practice, you know, 8 days a week for 5 hours a day, and then expect some record scout to just stumble in and say “Hey, do you want to do a record?” And meanwhile, we’re playing all the time having a screaming blast!
M: Okay, last but not least: any ghost stories?
D: Any ghost stories?
M: Anything that ever happened to you. Any kind of paranormal activity that happened to you in real life.
D: I think there are two. The first one was when I lived in Chicago. We lived in a sort of a two story, sort of like a brownstone thing, and we always entered the side door. For some reason we never used the front door. One day-I don’t remember why-but I opened the front door instead and one of the cats ran down the stairs and got out. When I went to go get him-and I’d only taken a couple of steps- he came rocketing back up the steps. He was going so fast he was on the wall, not the stairs.
D: He was a tough guy, and I looked at him and he was freaking out. He was hyperventilating and his fur had gone insane. I thought “What the fuck!” I checked downstairs and there’s nothing there. There’s one of those beneath the stairs storage spaces and there’s nothing there but a snow shovel. There was no hole where a rat or mouse could’ve gone in or anything. There was nothing there. So, I think he saw something there that I couldn’t see, and it scared the fuck out of him.
And then here in Los Angeles, there have been a handful of times this sort of ghost cat shows up every now and then. Most of the things around here are easily explained away. Like it’s a reflection, or out of the corner of your eye or whatever. But one morning my girlfriend got up and went to the bathroom, and you got past the guestroom to get there, and she yelled back “Hey, David. Did you move the guestbed?” There are three paintings above this bed, and the bed is centered beneath them, and the bed was moved like 18 inches. And I have no idea. That is not our imagination.
M: Right, that’s physical.
D: And the cats certainly can’t do it that quick.
M: Yeah. Haha!
D: One of the ghosts decided to move the bed.
M: That’s intense. Well, thank you for talking to me.D: Thanks.
Thanks David Yow. Check out this website to see David's artwork. And this one for his acting info and some Jesus Lizard video.
Monday, November 18, 2013
This interview also marks my first live interview which I transcribed. (Note: this is edited somewhat because the 3 of us say "like" in between other words kind of a lot.)
I feel like I don't need to tell you that I love brick mower and Kristin and Eric to pieces but well, I just said it. Now you know. Here it is! Enjoy!
Miranda: Hey. Here we are with Brick Mower.
M: Well, I should say Kristin and Eric and not all of brick mower. That was obnoxious.
K: That’s obnoxious, Miranda.
M: THIS IS OVER! Just kidding. So, how did you guys meet?
E: Oh, boy. How did we meet?
K: We met at Montclair State, and we both went to a floor meeting for, like, “the holiday season is coming so you have to unplug your fridge”.
E: Clean out your rooms.
K: That’s how we met.
E: I never went to the floor meetings before that. First time!
K: Yeah, me too.
M: Destiny, man, at work.
E: I needed a pen to sign the sheet and say I was there.
K: And I was like, “This guy is really annoying”, but the next day I realized he was apparently very drunk, and was like, “Sorry I was so drunk” and then I was like, “Ok, he’s cool.” He didn’t seem drunk, he was just knocking on my door every five minutes.
E: Trying to give you CDs.
K: He was like, “Hey, uh, I burned this Jawbreaker mix for you.” It was very nice. That’s how we met.
E: Yup, that’s the big story.
M: That was your first impressions? You noticed each other for sure.
K: Yeah, definitely.
M: Ok. When did you guys decide to start doing music together?
E: I was doing home recordings, stuff on a four-track, and I asked Kristin if she wanted to play bass. She mentioned she could play a little piano, which I still can’t play two keys at the same time on the piano… so I said “Ok maybe we could do something on a song that I’m recording, you can play piano or you wanna play bass?”
K: And Eric was in a couple bands at that point…
M: And what were those bands?
K: Paris Gun
E: Paris Gun was a band and then our band was Network of Halos, but that was our recording thing we eventually started playing live.
M: How long had you been seeing each other before that happened?
K: 6 Months?
E: Hmmm, it was in October…we played our first show 9 or 10 months after we met and Kristin recorded some stuff about 6 months after we met. So within half a year we were playing some music together.
M: That’s awesome. Kristin, what other bands were you in? Or were you in any bands before this?
K: No! NONE of my friends played anything unless it was just absolute like, metal. People in bands that I knew were in the kinds of bands that would just terrify me. I couldn’t even think about it. I was just a weird emo kid.
E: Bands would play a weird show at club Krome, and be like “Yeah, we were 1 of 7 bands to open up for Converge.”
K: It was all like hardcore, metal kids. And that’s fine…
M: Not your jam…
K: Yeah, not my jam.
M: And I mean had you always wanted to play? Or were you just like yeah I’ll play bass whatever…
K: I guess I always wanted to play. I was gonna be a musical theater kid. That’s what I was into. I liked punk, I loved the same kind of bands that I like now, but I was just like, I’m going to go listen to some Broadway songs (laughing)
M: (laughing) Yeah I’m gonna be in “Cats” anyway so who cares?
K: (laughing) Yeah, exactly
E: And speaking of musical theater, I thought it was cool that she could hit some notes or had some sort of idea of how to sing, where I still don’t have any idea how to sing.
K: But then I spent all my effort into trying not to sing like that…like it is almost like a detriment. You don’t want to sing like a Disney Princess when you’re singing in a band. You wanna sound like, “cool.” It sounds a little out of place.
M: So how did actual brick mower start, was that after Network of Halos?
K: We did Network of Halos. We played shows. We were like, here’s this thing we recorded, let’s play this café…we were under 21 or had just turned 21.
E: My brother was playing drums and he had just turned 14. Then our friend Mike, who turned to a life of graffiti and eventual arrests… great guy… no last names. Cool guy. He lives in another state now. But yeah he played guitar. My brother who was 14 played drums. He had a notebook of beats that I would write it out. It was really great.
K: Yeah we would play shows and he would have his composition notebook that he would look at while he was playing.
E: And it was really just 1,2,3,4… 1,2,3,4
E: Yeah we played under 20 shows like 17 or 18 shows…we wanted to crack 20 shows.
K: We played Maxwell’s which seemed terrifying at the time… and that was pretty cool but it wasn’t
such a big deal…It was that someone had rented it out. But that was cool. That was our biggest show.
E: We just made cd’s and put out a tape and a bunch of releases in like 2 years that maybe 30 people have. And then we decided to break up. A band with my brother and our friend Mike was tough at the time. So we were like, let’s just break up. What was that 2007?
K: That was 2007 and then I graduated college. And then that was when I was like, OK let’s do a real band.
E: We had talked about doing a real band for a while and we were just putting it off. I started playing drums in other bands. We were kicking the idea around. And we lived in Bellville up in north Jersey for a year. Then we moved back to Keansburg and Kristin was like, “We should really start a band, like we aren’t doing anything.” I was playing drums and that’s fine, but I was getting bored with that too. I wanted to do something else. One night Kristin was like, “Let’s just do what we said we were gonna do for the last year and a half and just like… play.” I was like, “OK! Let’s do it.”
M: And what year was this?
E: This is 2009. We started talking about it in and got into gear in June 2009. We started putting songs together. I called my friend Eric Gieg who has a recording studio in his basement, he went to school for audio engineering, and I was in a band with him at the time. And I said, “Can you just do some demos? I’ll play drums, Kristin’s gonna play the bass, and I’ll record the guitar over it.” And then we recorded our first EP, the Floors EP, just the 2 of us, in August 2009. We did our first show 2009. So from June to October, we just slapped it together.
M: Who are some inspirations for you guys at that time? Who were you into?
E: Well, it’s pretty evident we both like Superchunk. And we get that comparison all the time.
K: I mean that’s kind of the reason I did this band…that’s a huge huge influence and it’s not really a secret!
E: In like 2008 Kristin got super into Superchunk
K: Maybe too much…
K: There are a ton of influences that we didn’t and don’t sound anything like. I LOVE the band Mclusky too. And I’m never gonna be in a band as good as Mclusky ever…nobody is! But I can’t listen to those records and not wanna do something.
E: Yeah we don’t sound anything like that band but you listen to those records and it’s an inspiring thing.
K: Yeah there are things that I take from it like I like dirty bass…
E: And I was also getting into home recording and stuff, which Guided by Voices and Sebadoh were a big inspiration. But I don’t know if that’s a detriment to how I like to work. Sometimes it seems like, “Ok we finished it. It’s done! Move onto the next thing.” Only, without smoothing things out. We’ve a gotten a little bit better at that. But even on the first EP, we went and did those songs quickly and put them out. We just throw it out there and see what sticks.
M: Yeah I feel you should never overdo it. So what made you wanna be in a band and not just watch? What made you want to participate instead of being a fan. I always say that and feel bad because it sounds like I’m putting down being a fan and I’m not...but what is the difference for you guys?
E: No, I know what you mean.
K: Yeah…I don’t know! I think about that a lot. I can watch and enjoy something but I’m not the kind of person who can just say “Well that was nice,” and walk away from that. If I really was moved by something, I have to be a part of that in SOME way. And I don’t know why…I don’t know what it is that makes me not satisfied?
E: Yeah I agree with that too. If you’re taking in and appreciating some kind of art it should be for a reason. I guess eventually I personally wanna start participating and put something out. Even if I go through some sort of lull or I’m not really motivated. Eventually, if I read enough, listen to enough stuff, watch enough movies I’m like, “Ok now I’m kind of bored,” and the wheels start spinning again. It’s like I gotta get out there and DO it.
E: But for a long time I put off writing songs. I would be like “Oh I’m 18. I should be on tour by now! Well, I have no idea how to do that. Now I’m 20 and I’m too old to tour because I’m not 18 anymore. Now I’m 22 and that’s too old to write a SONG!” So finally when I was 24 I started writing songs. I thought “Ok… I’m not too old. I’ll never be too old.” What the hell was I thinking!? I was just putting things off.
K: It was just an excuse.
E: It was an excuse to say I couldn’t. There are always excuses.
M: Yeah. Well eventually it happened, that’s what matters.
E: Did that answer the question?
M: Yeah that was one of the better answers! It’s hard to explain, I know.
K: I can look at a painting and be like “That’s beautiful,” but it doesn’t make me wanna paint. But when I was 12 and I listened to a record I thought was awesome, and I said “God… one day I’m gonna do that.”
M: All of it is fairly inexplicable. It’s hard to be like “HERE’S how it happened.”
K: I think that proves it is what you’re supposed to be doing.
M: Yeah. I think all of my favorites are people who CANNOT explain why. They’re like “I dunno, I gotta.”
K: There was an interview with Fugazi, and I don’t remember it exactly, but they asked “What makes you wanna do it?” And the answer was “I dunno. I try not to think about it.” He was saying like, why break it down?
M: Yeah there’s no NEED to break it down, but I’m curious!
K: It’s kind of fascinating!
E: From an outsider’s point of view, it probably seems crazy.
K: Well sometimes, you’ll think “What are we doing? We’re playing for people…when you think about it, it’s SO WEIRD.”
M: It is SO weird!
K: I guess that’s true of anything.
E: It doesn’t make any sense! I guess I’m not putting any SUPER great importance on it but it’s like, it’s GREAT. I dunno.
M: Well once you do it and you’re like “Well, that ruled!” It’s pretty hard to be like, “I’m never doing that again!” You kinda want to repeat.
E: I hear so many people say “Well, when I hit a certain age I’m not gonna do it anymore,” but I couldn’t think of not doing SOMETHING in music anymore.
M: Yeah then maybe we’re not doing it for the same reasons.
K: Exactly. There have definitely been people who have been in bands and then been like “That was great…it’s over now!” What!? How can you say that?
M: How and why!
K: Yeah I dunno. It’s different.
M: So talk about the importance of touring and its effects on a band. I mean we all know that it is really useful to like, LEAVE NJ…
E: For a second I thought you were gonna say “useless…”
M: Oh yeah we all know it’s useless and a waste of time and money!
K: Completely unimportant and a silly thing to do.
M: But I mean you guys toured a lot last year and I’m curious about how you feel it affected your band.
E: We definitely got people to actually listen to the music. Nowadays with the internet, someone will just put something out and then suddenly have this big following. That is a different route to getting “popular.”
K: Touring is almost like an investment. You don’t see it right away but…
E: …it starts to pick up.
K: Yeah. Like the other day Eric got a text from someone we met in Chicago just to say they saw our sticker up somewhere! Stupid stuff like that.
E: That’s small and on a personal level.
K: It is very small. But yeah, in terms of the importance that touring has on a band, it’s the time that you put in. At first you may not even feel any type of reward. But after some time, you start to see it and it starts to build.
E: Yeah and it’s what we as a band are comfortable doing. Like I’m sure there are other avenues to take- like maybe there’s a way around touring in order to get your music out there. But this is what we are geared towards.
K: And you meet a lot people that are awesome.
E: The country seems so much smaller. Out here, people complain about driving an hour somewhere. I guess it’s relative if you’re living in a smaller state.
K: And I also think it’s important to do something that, at first, seems crazy and impossible. Then you realize that you can totally do it. Once you get over it, you see how completely accessible it all is.
M: And what about in terms of your playing? I always feel at the end of a tour I feel insanely comfortable playing a set.
K: Oh yeah totally. That’s another residual thing. Definitely after being on tour for 30 days, on day 30, you’re gonna be tight. And then even if you’re taking a break, once get back you still have that experience and comfort of playing with one another.
E: It has definitely helped tighten us up. I mean, we might still have some wonky shows here and there. Sometimes, I think about how I’d rather be taking a nap.
K: Also, not every show feels like the end of the world.
E: Yeah there’s always tomorrow.
M: That effect never occurred to me but I absolutely agree. You feel like, “OK. I messed up…that’s fine. I’m not gonna go hang myself.”
E: Right, not a big deal. There’ll be another show tomorrow…if it doesn’t get cancelled.
K: Whereas if you only play once in a while, every note you miss you will remember for months.
E: Sometimes I’ll see a band that only plays once in a while and I wonder if they put all their eggs in a basket for that single show. Are all the members of this band super pumped tonight because they haven’t played in 6 months and they might not play again in another 6 months?
M: Yeah totally.
M: Ok, talk about your parents.
E: My parents are funny people. My Dad is a state trooper and my Mom is a teacher. Both blue collar-ish. They got me a drum set when I was in 5th grade for Christmas. I told them it was the only thing I wanted. So we all opened our gifts and then the last gift I opened was a very beginner style drum-set that I didn’t know how to set up. That was cool. They’ve been supportive up to a point with my music, but after a certain point they don’t get what’s going on and I can’t fault them completely for that. They’re still together. I drop in sometimes. They ask me what I’m doing. Ask me when I’m gonna get a real job. Even though I work some real jobs… I’m not sure what they mean. I don’t know what kind of job they want me to work. I expressed interest in being a teacher years ago for the sole purposes of getting summers off and that’s come up a couple times. They ask, “Why don’t you want to pursue that?” I personally think you really need to be dedicated to be a teacher. So if my main goal is to get summers off -then maybe I shouldn’t be a teacher. But then they still don’t get that. I think they have our first record.
K: They’re like, “Why can’t I hear your vocals on this??”
E: Yeah. But they are great and very good parents.
M: And you Kristin…
K: Well, speaking of blue collar, my Mom is a nurse and my Dad was a police officer. My father died when I was in Middle school. We were super close. He was my Dad and my bud or whatever. He was actually super into music and he was a really good guitar player. And he wanted me to learn guitar. He also wanted me to be, like, a pro golfer. He just thought I could and should do whatever! He was like “Hey you wanna be a professional jump-roper??!!” He was super awesome. And in terms of music he was into weird country music. He used to say “I stopped listening to music after 1965!” Oh and both my parents are much older. They had me when they were in their mid-to late 40’s. It was awesome because it was like I was only child, but with 5 older siblings. My Mom’s really kooky and very supportive with absolutely everything. She thinks it’s really great that we have a band. I hear her talking to her sisters and she’s like “Oh yeah! Kristin’s band is great! They go all OVAH! It’s great!”
E: Where my parents are like, “Why do you leave? Why are you going places?”
K: Or like “Yeah you’ll go on tour and then you’ll settle down.” It’s like, what are you guys taking about? This is it!
M: Yeah like, this is settled as far as I’m concerned.
K: But yeah. I have/had great parents. I’m very, very, very, lucky.
M: That’s nice. That’s awesome. Yay. Ok so talk about your siblings.
E: I have one brother. We’re pretty close. Brian is 7 years younger than me. He’s the one who played drums in Network of Halos.
K: He’s the coolest.
E: He’s a cool kid. He’s really good at baseball. He’s the athletic one in the family, whereas I am NOT. He has a really warped sense of humor which he credits me with helping him shape but I think he might be even slightly more warped than I am. Like his boundaries are a little blurry.
K: His snapchats are ON POINT.
E: Sometimes his jokes, I don’t get them. They’re not “to get” sometimes. Yeah he’s a cool kid. So he’s playing all sides of the fence- as far as being an athletic kid, but then just totally out there. He’s a cool guy.
M: And Kristin-all of your 40 siblings? Go ahead.
E: Yeah it’s like Kristin’s army.
K: Yeah, like I said, I was the “later in life” baby. I have 4 brothers: Drew, Dave, Doug, and Russ. And I have one sister, Denise. My 2nd oldest brother is insane and hilarious and one of the funniest people. I’ll meet people and say my last name and they’ll be like “Oh do you know Dave??” Everyone knows him and he is hilarious. He’s out of his mind. The 2 older ones think they have to be the guardians of the family. And then I have Doug who is wonderfully insane and I love him. He’s like the most offensive yet most lovable person you’ll ever meet in your life. He’s a crazy fuckin’ rebel.
M: Alright. I got one more question, guys.
K: Uh huh…
M: I feel like you know what’s coming…
K: I don’t think that I do…
M: (drum roll on the table) Do you have any… GHOST STORIES!? Now Kristin, I know you have hours of scary conversation for us so just hit us with the worst, most intense one.
K: OK. I always say, if it didn’t happen to me I would absolutely not believe it. I’m very artsy farts-y, but then I’m also very logical. So I totally get that people don’t believe me when I tell this story. BUT, my scariest, creepiest story is this: The house I grew up in used to be an old boarding house back when people would actually vacation in Keansburg. The house is in books about the history of Keansburg. I was about 8 years old. I had already heard stuff, been terrified by stuff, and I just knew the house was different and that I wasn’t just making myself scared. One night, I was sleeping and all of a sudden –out of NOWHERE in the middle of the night- I was 100% awake, like someone had shaken me. And I was like, “Why am I absolutely shitting my pants scared right now?” I had a daybed against the wall and I looked over by the daybed and there was a pitch black figure with fucking red eyes. It’s ridiculous even saying it. It was like a movie moment where the person cleans their glasses. I was like “No that CANNOT be what I’m seeing.” I was just lying there, staring at it, and so scared. Eventually, I was just like “I have to get out of here.” So I held my breath and ran through the bathroom that adjoined my room with my parents’ room. I went to my Mom’s side of the bed and shook her awake and was like “Move over and let me go under the covers.” I got the courage to peek out to see if it was there. I saw the figure standing in the bathroom doorway as if it had followed me. And then, like it was out of a movie, it dissipated. I never talked about it with my parents. I thought, “If I say it, it is gonna happen again. It’s gonna come back.” Talking about it made it real, and I couldn’t relive it.
K: A LOT of other stuff happened in that house. One day after we had moved out, I was talking with my Mom and she was like “Remember that one time there was that thing that looked like Darth Vader in the doorway??” I was just like “WHAT??” And she was like “Remember you woke me up and I looked and that thing was there and then it just disappeared!” It was exactly how it happened. I already knew it happened but then there was confirmation.
M: UGH. It’s so scary. I have heard you talk about this before and every time it freaks me the fuck out.
Ok Eric! Yours!
E: OK. I was recording in my parents’ house by myself on a 4 track in the basement. I had come up with 5 song ideas and I was hitting record and drumming for each track. Before each one I’d be like, “This is track 1, this is track 2,” for reference. At one point I lost count and I said “This is either track 4 or track 5” and the ANOTHER voice said “It’s 5.” And it was 5.
K: Yeah and it WAS track 5!
M: WHOAAAAA! Somebody was hanging out!
E: It’s low but it was very clear. It wasn’t me. It didn’t sound like me. I played it for someone else and they were like, “That doesn’t sound like you.”
K: Eric’s roommate at the time hated scary stuff sooo much. And Eric played it for him and he threw his headphones off and ran outta the room. He was like “FUCK THIS SHIT!!!”
M: That’s my kind of guy!
E: That was the only thing that happened.
M: Hey. I love you guys. You’re the best. That was awesome. You’re the best.
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