BANDS BANDS BANDS BANDS BANDS. Man, there are a lot of them. Just look around. Yikes. A couple years ago, before myspace logged into the tar pits, I would occasionally click on the bands on there and listen to almost three seconds of some of them. Listening to music perched and bored in front of a little computer tends to wear on your patience after a while. Eventually I'm navigating away from a new band before the fourth stick-click of the count-in happens. One little diamond in a sea of Dave's popped through though. Starting with a great name. Then, like The Urinals or Hank Williams, the songs get right to the point, make the point and end when the point is made. And the singer? Get this....he sings!
How often do you get haunting and punk at the same time? Never, that's when. Well, except for right here...
As has become his interview M.O., Lars begins with a track-by-track analysis of the LP. -Ed.
Lars: 'Blackout Summer' - Side A - "Pre-Apocalyptic"
Brian: One of our oldest songs. Faust’s “It’s a Rainy Day (Sunshine Girl)” and The Urinals’ “Hologram” were the chief inspirations. The song has a really wonky structure because when we first recorded the song, it wasn’t really written yet. I told Lucy to just play the beat for an indeterminate amount of time, then I went back and wrote everything over the recorded drum tracks. “We’ll figure it out later...” has pretty much been our band motto. The song ended when Lucy lost the beat so I masked that with the sound effect of an explosion, which was appropriate considering the song is about the end of the world. The version on the LP is more “finished” than that early demo. I like how atmospheric it turned out.
Lars: "Black Cloud"
Brian: A song about drinking to excess. My first stab at writing something Kiwi-pop influenced. “14th Floor” by TVPs was another vague inspiration. Lucy’s favorite song to play.
Lars: "I Don’t Care"
Brian: An “Us against the World” love song. Musically, I was trying to do a breezy, Tropicalia type thing. I’m really proud of the solo on this one. The other day, Lucy and I were talking about how the drums sound like slowed down dancehall reggae. I know you prefer the drumless demo version, Lars, but this was the way it was meant to be heard!
Lars: "Anxiety Attack"
Brian: Our most overtly Urinals-sounding tune, right down to the “ack” in “attack.” I used some of McHugh’s toys on this one — toy piano on the verses and a Radio Flyer wagon to accentuate the snare hits on the second half of the song. I guess the Radio Flyer was donated to the Distillery by Gitane Demone from Christian Death. Basically, if you bang the bejeezus out of it with a rusty wrench it sounds really cool. The Distillery is rad like that, each piece of equipment there has a story. It’s like a museum or something.
Brian: Not much to say about this one, really. A song about the absurdity of an afterlife and the weird shit that people believe. The organ part was fun to play. The drums, not so much, according to Lucy.
Lars: "Bed Island"
Brian: When I was a kid and I was drifting off to sleep, I used to imagine that my bed was a desert island and that I was totally isolated on it. The vocal melody is based on the version of “Darling, Let’s Have another Baby” by Stef Petticoat and Robert Crash. “Sandpaper Lullaby” by the Virgin Prunes and “Mister Sandman” by The Chordettes were other influences. The song wasn’t finished when we went into the studio so I wrote a lot of it on the spot, like the guitar solo.
Lars: Side B - "Dinosaurs"
Brian: McHugh says this is our “Sesame Street song.” Yeah, I know, it’s really cutesy and twee. What can I say? I never grew out of my dinosaur phase. The song is obliquely influenced by “Tulpen und Narzissen” by Die Doraus und die Marinas, a super catchy Neue Deutsche Welle tune. I played the synth lines on the Distillery’s temperamental ARP Odyssey. I don’t know what “portamento” means but it makes the keyboard sound cool.
Lars: "It’s True"
Brian: Probably the most “confessional” lyrics I’ve ever written. Ha ha. It’s a song about being a moody asshole. Lucy spent a whole day trying to nail the drums and I think we ended up just using the first take. The Bats and The Clean were big influences. My favorite song on the record.
Lars: "Weird You Out"
Brian: I really like how the drums came out on this one. Definitely our noisiest song. One track is just guitar feedback. I was going for a dark pop sound, kind of like Joy Division meets The Chills. The lyrics are about being on the same page with someone in a relationship and not creeping them out by saying something too crazy too soon.
Lars: "Doin’ Swell"
Brian: We did this one for Mike Sniper. He was instrumental in hooking us up with In the Red. Sniper’s one stipulation was that we put “Doin’ Swell” on the record. We didn’t want to use the same version as the World’s Lousy 7” so we re-recorded it with McHugh. Personally, I think Harry got the better version. Somehow the one we did in Lucy’s bedroom on a digital 8-track with everything panned center came out better. Figures.
Lars: "My Baby"
Brian: This is a really old song, one I wrote back in my pre-Island days when I would stay at home and pine away into my 4-track. Sixties girl groups are the obvious influence. I wanted to change the subject matter of the lyrics because it wasn’t applicable to me anymore, but it didn’t sound right. So instead I tried to tie it in with more of an apocalyptic theme so it would be a good bookend with “Pre-Apocalyptic.” Besides, a lot of those old girl group songs have a real sense of finality — “Dressed in Black” by the Shangri-Las for instance.
Lars: "Blackout Summer"
Brian: I like it when records end on the title track. A song about summer heartache. We doubled two separate organ tracks and played both through a tiny guitar amp so they’d sound really blown out. The Leslies of the two organ parts are out of sync, so it produced a nice effect. That faint yell at the end is Lucy.