Tuesday, June 28, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
The second and final part of my interview with Zac Pennington of the ever awesome Parenthetical Girls. Here we dive into his upcoming new musical ventures, how he was convinced to appear and act on Portlandia, and the deeper purpose of both "The Pornographer" video and the band's discography.
The Creative Intersection: Has the process of creating Privilege differed or evolved from the way you originally planned for it to turn out? Like, you said you wanted the entire project to be completed in fifteen months, right?
Zac Pennington: Yeah, we did want that (laughs). We set up these sort of arbitrary confines, like “it’s going to be five records” for no reason what so ever just other than it’s going to be five records and “it’s going to be done in fifteen months” which is really impractical and not really thought out in terms of time line. Mostly because the process we work with is pretty much myself and Jherek (Bischoff) working on these recordings, and Jherek is busy with a million other projects, so ultimately it all depends on our schedules lining up. However, every time we work on it I feel it comes very quickly, it’s just he more than me is kind of unable to devote as much time to it as it would be necessary to make it come out as quickly as possible. The process has been weirdly organic in a way that nothing we’ve ever made has been, and I feel the working relationship Jherek and I have now is better than it’s ever been. I know that sounds really trite, but it’s actually true, things are working pretty well.
It’s a weird experiment, and in some ways it’s failed and in some ways it’s succeeded. Initially the idea was to be able to keep releasing things in a way that could the whole Parenthetical Girls project sustainable because of the practical matters of not being able to tour and...not that we’re challenging the idea of the album, but I feel like the way most media works. It still works around the notion of album as the definitive statement, so it’s been interesting to hear how people have responded to this project more than anything I think.
TCI: Have your non-Parenthetical Girls projects played a role in the way the music? For instance, you did a very extravagant play in Austria with an experimental theater trope?
ZP: Yeah, we did a theater piece with this group called Implied Silence that I think went relatively well. It was apparently big, and we made a bunch of music for it that I don’t know will actually come out. One of the songs we recorded from the piece in a different form for a seven inch that we released on Tomlab this year. Other than that though I don’t know if it will ever come out in anyway. In some ways that project, and some other things I’ve been working on, have allowed me to focus on what I want Parenthetical Girls to be. Because essentially Parenthetical Girls has always been a pretty open environment. We don’t really have a specific sound that we are aiming for, or we don’t feel people have that expectations about how we’re going to sound. It’s ultimately up to us, and where our whim are. But doing that Austrian show, which was really grand, ambitious, more orchestral than anything else, I was sort of really able to stream line and get down to a really different kind of Parenthetical Girls then we’ve had before.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
This is just awesome. The ever great Deerhunter will be releasing a sort of split 7" as a tribute to fellow Georgia artist Pylon. They cover the classic "Cool", and manage to keep the same tension that defined that song, while still making it darker and giving it a Deerhunter style sheen. The flip side is two remixes of "Yo-Yo" by Calvinist, with help from Sleigh Bell singer Alexis Krauss. It will be released on June 28 by DFA, the same label that handled the reissues of Pylon's albums. Hopefully the whole release will bring a little extra attention to to the long under appreciated Pylon.
The original version, in all it's post-punk glory:
The Creative Intersection: The first question that springs to mind is what is it like now that Rachel (Jensen) is leaving the band?
Zac Pennington: It’s sort of been in the works for a while and only been officially been stated, but we’ve been dealing with it for a while. Presently we’re getting to play the first shows with this new group, and it’s seeming to be working out pretty well. Rachel’s way was very essential to the way the live band work for a long time, but for the most part she wasn’t that...essential to recording process, and the writing process, so we’ve been working on things this way for sometime without Rachel being...extremely...umm...
TCI: Crucial in studio presents?
ZP: Yeah, yeah. In terms of how the band operates, the only major difference is how the live band is going to work. That’s always changed pretty dramatically in short bursts of time. We’ve had a pretty heavy turnover so we’re pretty use to people coming and going.
TCI: I’m sure it must be a little bit different with how long Rachel has been with the band. I mean just a little.
ZP: Sure. No, it’s quite a bit different. I mean, practically speaking it’s not exceptionally different, but for the sake of the dynamic of the band it’s a lot different, and it feels like we’re starting the live band over again. Which is a exciting thing because I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve been super confident as a live band. We haven’t been playing a lot of live shows because it’s become more and more difficult schedule wise to do it with Rachel and other members of the band. At this point I feel like we are in a position were we can actually take playing live a little bit more seriously, and be more consistent with it then we have in the last year or so.
TCI: So you’ve been wanting to tour, it wasn’t the studio recording? I always assumed it was a concentration on recording Privilege that was holding you back from touring massively.
ZP: Well, it’s a number of factors. It’s mostly been personnel and getting to a place where we felt we had a consistent and reliable band, which we just haven’t had in a while. Essentially since Matt (Carlson) left some time ago we haven’t had a real consistent line up, so an opportunity to go on a tour, we would always have to scramble to figure something out. Because I don’t really play anything in the live band any more it ends up being a lot of focus and pressure on the people whom we get, and often time as such opportunities rise in such short order that we haven’t been able to capitalize on going on tour.
Ultimately, we haven’t...it’s hard because the way the Privilege project works, because it’s not a full length album. Essentially the sort of cycle you have when you’re in a band, you put out a record, then you go on a few tours, and then put out another record. But because we don’t actually have a full-length coming out for a while, instead we are doing these sort of incremental things, there hasn’t been a real logical time to make it work.
Monday, June 20, 2011
I love The Music Tapes. Period. Seeing them live and interviewing them was pretty much how this blog came to be. Their records spin endlessly in my room, and their performance as part of the Elephant 6 Holiday Surprise Tour was one of my musical high points of the year. They are wonderful, and the only thing I wished from the band was that they would release more music, seeing as they have only released two albums in eleven years.
Thankfully, all my wishing has payed off in the form of Purim's Shadows (The Dark Tours the World). A digital EP, it is a collection of songs that have been floating around along with new ones to tide people over until the brand new Music Tapes records start pouring in later this year. However (and this is a big "however"), don't even think about writing this EP as a something to download and listen to haphazardly.
"So Long the Day" opens the release, possibly The Music Tapes catchiest song to date, which is such a paradox to describe a Music Tapes song. Julian Koster's falsetto rises and falls over acoustic guitar sounding banjo lines before cumulating with joyous horn blaring and subtle bells ringing as the song fades. The trapped-in-the-past sounding lo-fi sounds that make up part of the essence of The Music Tapes' sound is reinstated in songs like "A Lighting's Cheeks (Everything Gets Born Here" and "Night and Day", with sad organ keys and weeping singing songs persisting throughout. It ends with "Nantasket", a slightly epic (at least for the band) 6 minute song that captures the same sublime feelings that were created in "Song for Oceans Falling", the center piece of their album Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes.
It's a short, but sweet release that I'm happy actually happened with the band's track record for actually releasing material. Best of all, as part of The Music Tapes standard procedure of including some type of goodie with their releases, the "physical" release of this EP comes with a Music Tapes kazoo! Yes, I know that sounds very dorky, but it is equally awesome and I can't wait to play it whenever I'm listening to the band.
The Music Tapes' Website
Stream/buy/download Purim's Shadows (The Dark Tours The World) here, from Merge
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
It's strange. You think being a blogger, reading all the other great blogs you aspire to be, and getting mountains of emails to check out this or that artist, I would always be on top of any sort of buzz band or band everyone was blabbing about. Yet days arise when I discover an artist that you find simply stunning, then in turn I am stunned to find out they've been producing music like this for awhile now, and I wonder where have I been for so long?
That in a nutshell is how I felt when I first discovered WU LFY and their song/video "Dirt". It makes complete sense why everyone is drooling over this band. "Dirt" is such an utterly creative song, layering so many different elements into itself, forming the perfect novella of a song. The song comes off as tribal at first glance, with thundering drums coupled with vocals that spit disconcerting, rage-filled phrases punctuated with a style that sounds like the singer is gasping for air. However, the inner elements of the song emerge once the video is scene. Yes, the same chaotic feeling are personify by the video, but at the same time some strange warped sense of glee comes out as well, as if to say "the anger of now will lead to better things later". I might be over thinking it, but the song is entrancing the moment it starts and I can't wait for their debut album. Possibly my new favorite band.
(mp3) WU LYF-Dirt
WU LYF's website