‘names' is a math-rock band from atlanta, now based in montreal. i interviewed their drummer, will.
are you afraid of the future?
Deep future and near future are hugely motivating factors in my life. To be fearful of them would take away from everything in my life. There’s a line from a Suffix song that sticks with me everywhere I go, “moving on is the best part about growing up.” At least I think that’s the line. They were a screamo band, so who knows?
if mcdonald’s offered you ~1500 dollars to finish recording your album, but the catch was at least one song had to be a sincere pro-mcdonald’s anthem, would you take that deal?
We could get really deep into this. On the surface, as a principled person, I would say no, but it could turn out super fun, interesting I think. I’d love to do an Ode to MacDough epic, like a grandiose composition with a huge instrumentation and a laser show or something. Like, we could debut it on the 4th of July. That would be huge.
being based in montreal, do y’all feel any pressure to write glitchy pop songs like ‘grimes’ and ‘doldrums’ etc?
Any of that pressure we feel comes from other influences, I think. We’re originally from Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve never listened to Grimes nor Doldrums. I really like IDM/glitch/glitch hop, so that’s where that pressure would come from, if it had to come from somewhere.
do you think ‘mostly instrumental’ bands have a harder time establishing an ‘identity’ as a band (via no easily identifiable lead singer’s voice)?
Yeah, I think that’s the case in most circles. Of course, there are niche communities where *only* instrumental bands exist, and those are kind of incestual and inbreedy, so then it *really* becomes a task to assume an identity with your band. I guess a lot of mostly-instrumental music is more accessible to musicians than to average-listeners, who are used to following the human voice. This is definitely a damper on the assumption of an identity, but I don’t think it precludes it. I had a friend who always told me that instrumental music was pointless/limited because it intended to emulate the human voice. I guess that was a huge motivator for me, because I always disagreed in lots of ways. I think experimenting with instrumental music gave us an outlet to hone our palettes, which is cool because the human voice passes over the palette all the time. I love when things work out that way.
do you listen to more jazz or more math-rock?
I’m pretty big on both. Just as a statistical matter, though, I would probably say jazz, since there exists so god damn much of it. Also we listen to everything. Except Grimes and Doldrums (had to add that for consistency, not animosity!). Have you heard this Coltrane rendition of Greensleeves? It is a definitive slayer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05g0Qt1sRnA
are y’all employed?
Dave is head librarian at the Liberal Arts College at Concordia University. I am self-employed as a magician-cobbler-zen master.
i imagine you got your name by accident, like you had a list of potential names for your new band, and the top of the list said ‘names' and you accidentally picked that one, is that accurate?
That is more or less accurate. We never had a list, but the word “names” was definitely flying around at some point. I remember walking down the hallway of our old jam space with our old bassist, repeating “Names” to him with that inflection that indicates I’m talking about a potential band name. He was immediately down, and it sort of just happened. I loved it instantly. It reminded me of this line from a favorite book of mine: “names shield us from the nothingness.”
1) Just A Touch – AlunaGeorge: This tune, yes this tune. I like how it is a guest in my home, especially as a guest of this type doesn’t do little sounds, but keeps an eye on things in general. I grew up on the edge of a forest. The pine trees there never made me feel honest. This song is the opposite of that feeling, whatever word would suffice to describe that. Tramps (I know it sounds very quant), but tramps would always sleep in the forest, rough, uncultured, these compatriots were my teachers. This tune is a teacher. It slides along in a well-oiled groove. It’s like a stranger rubbing their oily cheeks on your face.
2) Slowine – Schlachthobronx: It certainly seems like there is two pretty little men jiggling about in my ears. Most brains sometimes think it’s easier to love without responsibility, but why, we have walls and revolutions always digging away inside us. This tune has an old face, one that lights up and cackles. How high? How do we make the suggestion to get high? Pass me half a grape and I will show you the shadow of the buildings opposite. This song has those type of revelations attached within it.
3) Grapes Alla Vodka (Salva Remix) – RL Grime:In dub music, or anything of an experimental nature, the holes and corners of sound always rush in. BOOM – sound, you’re suddenly aware of unsuspected heights and the depths of human life. Your arms folded behind you. Your toes are digging the gravel. You are worthy, yet at sea. Precious litterateurs must eat more pencils!
4) Murda Sound – Munchi: Others would have us believe that bitterness is dangerous. Bitterness is perfect. The world is perfect. EVERYTHING happens here. There is deep significance if you stand alone in an old gateway. This song backs all this up. Stalk this type of music, seriously, stalk it in the street, beckon this music to come inside your abode. Invite it upstairs. Wear tartan plaid because the tune made you do so … and don’t be ashamed. Album covers do not exist anymore, and rightly so. What you should do is print out the JPEG on felt paper, batter it with rolled up old conventional newspapers and frame that gibberish behind glass. My God! Chaucerian ART….
5) Error 808 – Logos: The first time I heard this song, within minutes I was handcuffed, shutting my eyes, listening in, all exquisite, pathetic, entrancing. However, the magic of the music business was a matter of fact, it was a steady, prosperous establishment that didn’t let tunes like this live, let alone breathe and fly away. These musical artists lead good lives, they keep away from evil, but for some reason, they’ve never actually been in love, although that is a necessary staple of all pop music. The infernal things die of inanition; you need to allow this music a life, Life, LIFE… Let it fucking live.
6) Ruby Lee (’74 Version) – Fritz Kalkbrenner: A game-changer that did not spoil the game. Do not spoil the game. Get game. Become the game. Make people think you are existence. A glass of water is not an outlook on life; it is potentially not even a drink. This tune is like the glass of water. It exists in a supreme degree of watch-keeping, a subconscious sense of responsibility, four hundred pounds, twenty eight chambers, thirty eight years, a life sentence. The bunk bed is overturned. Do not sleep in overturned linen.
7) Summer (The Remix Nopony Asked For) – Griffin Village: Music should be swinging from the crypt, not some phoney ornament on a hill. My ears, after hearing this, always get engrossed in whatever’s happening in the distance. Today someone has quality glass cleaner and a kitchen towel. They’re cleaning the windows on the apartment opposite. Revolutions produce lightning, they even allow for destructive radicalism. My crotch, his fingertips and his cigarettes while lifting his
knees. He swings a shorter haircut, but that’s irrelevant these days. Pattern’s hiss and I drink the fountain water. Something’s speaking in my stomach, motionless. Time travel and then spindle in slow motion. Hit the train station and then the cinema.
8) Down The Line (It Takes A Number) – Romare: Clouds. Smoke and possibly flame could be included under this heading. We have all looked up at the sky on a summer’s day or thundery evening and imagined seeing all manner of animals and objects created in the cloud formations, a great childhood game that encourages the imagination. With a little more motivation, this can lead to other images being created that are not solely visual and could be used to do it. Not today though, today I’m conducting research while wearing a laboratory coat. I haven’t seen your neck since last Tuesday. This is the soundtrack to the lab experiments. Not tonight my dears … just grab a cigarette and light it.
9) Dougou Badia (Feat. Santigold) (Kennie Takahashi Alternative Mix) – Amadou And Mariam: This song flicks a butterfly knife and slices the shroud of perfection right open to reveal a dead body. The rhythm unwraps the body from the shroud like it’s opening a present on Christmas day, all furious-like. The body is completely naked. When I hear this song I don’t know the order of things. What’s this photo? Things like that. My trousers have kisses on them. This song would’ve come with a magic mirror, but life isn’t always like that. To familiarise yourself with your “magic mirror” create literature that is solely visual and can be used to send coded messages. Look I’m not sure how you would do it exactly. You might have travel sickness.
10) Scarlett – Velvit: Music is illuminated. You deliberately leave the light on in this photo booth. You can over-evaluate to protect yourself from the night. This tune is smoking. It’s an occasional sunny day. The beat is a house fire inside a glass ashtray. It’s a whole heap of good commotion, such strange rasping rhythms in the moonlit sky, lit clouds, fast food joints, late night supermarkets, liquor stores and the people are haunted. Ghosts? Not exactly. I’ve been here and heard something snarling behind the veil of this music. Voices in the door. Dress yourself for work and catch yourself a couple of times dancing to this tune.
11) Living Together – XXYYXX: Lastly cigarettes are placed in the pocket of this jacket. Some sexual stupor to comprehend. You’re face down in a plastic bowl of noodles, beef flavour. A card table, the band leader is standing over the table. He opens the book, rifling through the pages. Photocopy room. You close the top of the photocopier with one hand. The light from the photocopier lights this face. The music draws on a cigarette. You look behind yourself and then cheekily draw again on the cigarette. You grin to yourself. Beat … Beat … BEAT … Photocopied pages spread loosely on your thighs. They’re also all over the seat next to you. Respectability. Employment. Mixtape.
can’t think of a clever name for this ‘mixtape’. worried about not being alt enough. or lit enough. a lot of cool ppl did some mixes here. afraid they will judge me. just really nervous in general. so here is my contribution: songs that are not made of light.
pretty deep house. like serious deep house. remember listening to this around a campfire and someone kept repeating ‘this is deep house, this is deep house.’ they were right, like, it’s good deep house. meticulously produced. like i feel he should change his name/brand to deephouse chopra. this is a good, dark dance tune. seems ‘satanic enough.’
seems appropriate to make this the next song. this is also a dark tune. the first time i heard this song and i was watching steve wilkos. this guy was claiming that ‘a woman needs to be controlled by her man.’ i got really angry at that guy. this was nice background angry music. it’s like a lo-fi elvis wailing against this bass ostinato that seems to drive into hell. and the video is pretty cool, too.
this guy is sad a lot. his wife left him, his house burned down, and his parents died. in the same week. pretty sad. i felt bad for him when i first heard this album. but this was the product of immense pain. and it makes me feel good to think that he made something beautiful out of something so dark.
this song is only two minutes long. wish it was longer. dungen make a lot of noise(s). but i feel like i’m in the seventies. like, a gay, 70’s porno. it’s loud. and hairy. and there is a lot of noise. yeah.
wayne coyne seems like a nice guy to have lunch with. i can see him getting like, a huge burger with exotic garnishes. too bad that he’s too busy making some stuff like this. smart dude, layering sound above sound to make a weird psychedelic moment of forgetting for about three (3) minutes.
who is roberta flack. seems like she is/was at one point ‘relevant.’ i just wikipedia’d her. she won some grammys and made some songs that were covered by people. so yeah, she’s still ‘relevant.’ she isn’t in this song though. tribute song, maybe. hard to make a tribute song that you want to touch yourself/others to. i feel like this song was written under the influence of dry humping.
there are strange things happening every day. i feel like this is a good strange. reminds me of all this new production and sampling going on in music now. so many sounds. this is a good thing. kinda like nguzunguzu except serious. like, real talk r. kelly meets somebody with a computer.
i’m actually a model when i listen to this song. it makes me really self-aware. i guess. actress is really cool. when i was at tate modern, he was there doing stuff for the yayoi kusama retrospective. he made this blip-bloop-bloop sounds that seemed readily and eagerly paired with her work. i like blip-bloop-bloop sounds. they’re pretty cool. this music is pretty cool.
this is my favorite song. of all time. there is a lot in it. a lot of pretty good lyrics. a lot of sound. and it’s long. pretty long. but you can cry to it. laugh to it. it’s just so much and not enough. there’s a lot of indecisiveness. idk. still my favorite.
i wonder if i could ever play bass saxophone. i wonder if i could ever have laurie anderson recite my poetry while i play bass saxophone. this is a good song for running or strenuous activity. like anxiety. colin stetson isn’t really anxious i don’t think. but he makes good stuff. i used one of his songs as the epigraph to my undergraduate thesis. i wish he was playing while i did my thesis reading.
this is the last song. it’s an electronic song. it’s chill. think that it’s pretty sad and pretty dark. don’t really care for much of fennesz work. think that he makes a lot of ‘generic sounds.’ but i like this song by him. and it’s a good song.
kurt travis recorded a solo ep mostly on his macbook. that’s pretty cool, I think. he has been the singer for three post-hardcore bands that I like. this is the title track. the ep came out on cassette and i sandwiched it between ‘purple rain’ and ‘icehouse’ in my tape rack.
when copeland broke up me and a few friends talked extensively about going to see their farewell tour when it came to town. we didn’t actually go. whenever i sit down at a piano i try to play copeland songs but i don’t really know how.
adult swim turned me on to this band. if you like short fast punk songs here is one by some pizza skater kids from crooklyn. there are black kids in the band. that shouldn’t be a big deal but i think it has increased the band’s popularity somehow.
when i wrote for a music blog i wanted to review this album right after it leaked. the blog leader didn’t seem too interested. i think pop music that is in any way related to the ‘emo’ genre is the very best kind of pop music.
honestly, i have no idea what zooey deschanel would do if she heard this. if she was into ‘noodly guitar bands’ she would probably start dancing. i can’t remember any movies or shows that zooey deschanel has starred in. i just think of death cab, is that right?
in elementary school some of the other boys would call me names like austin powers and steve austin. i didn’t know who these people were until they explained to me. curious to know how this song sounds different or the same played live.
this band makes me think of fencing in a friend’s basement while movies are projected onto the wall. movies that involve a lot of fast highway driving. the singer is kurt travis. he manages to sound urgent and somewhat didactic on this album.
matt pryor is famous for being in the get up kids. every band he’s done outside of that one has been equally as good in my opinion. this sounds like a stripped down new amsterdams song. okay for drinking to if you are drinking alone out of sadness.
this band is a side project of dudes who are in better-known bands. i really like this song. if i were to ever ‘get dressed to a song’ then this would be the one. the guitar riffs are kind of nostalgic but not in a way that turns a good mood sour.
aeroplane, 1929 – ‘what it is i’m made of…’
recently this band broke up. at least one of the members still checks the facebook page. i know this because i told them to come to texas and whoever saw it replied ‘wish we could :/’. after that i read that they had broken up. bunch of snotty punks.
i think james blake should be on every playlist i make. he apparently invented post-dubstep. not entirely sure what that means. to me it sounds soulful in a minimal way. recently someone asked me if i liked ‘electro’ music. i said ‘i like james blake’ and they didn’t know who that was.
'the universe is big and i am a little smaller' by walter mackey
so, it’s winter and everyone is feeling depressed and lonely. you can’t really go outside much because it’s cold and it starts getting dark at 4pm. you spend your nights walking back and forth between your macbook and your refrigerator. you feel ‘creatively drained’. these are some songs to make you feel a little less lonely. satisfaction guaranteed.
okay, so do you remember a few years ago when tumblr was exploding with pictures of hipsters wearing native american apparel? you know the photos—girls in headdresses, wearing warpaint and god forbid a loincloth. i found this song by browsing some weird ‘anti-native american apparel’ blog. some girl was actually native and she was really pissed and just spent time writing long text posts that nobody ever read about cultural appreciation vs. cultural appropriation. i read them, though.
sometimes after a long day of doing mostly nothing and spending my entire time on gmail chat and writing poems i like to take drives in the night time to nowhere in particular. usually i will bring a pack of cigarettes, my ipod (and dock), and a bunch of emotions. i will blast music really loud and scream along to it and smoke cigarettes and drive really fast. lately i have been blasting this mix. it’s really great.
i saw diamond rings live about a year ago. he wore a cool grey sweatshirt and had dramatic eye make-up. he played upstairs at this bar that had a black and white checkered floor. a lot of people didn’t know who he was at the time so the crowd was really small. it was intimate and i liked that. when he played this song i got on the stage with him and danced. okay, i kind of grinded on him but whatever.
i don’t know if lindsay lohan wrote this. i don’t know if lindsay lohan was a lesbian at the time. i am pretty sure lindsay lohan was on crack at the time. i am pretty sure lindsay lohan is still on crack. i am so in love with lindsay lohan i don’t know what to do with myself, most days. it is like a debilitating illness or something. i want her to @reply me on twitter. i want her to love me so hard. until then, ‘i can’t live without ya, can’t breathe without ya, i’m dreamin’ ‘bout ya’.
these days, you hardly hear a harmonica on a track. i mean, if you hear harmonica on a track it usually sounds like ‘wub wub wub blub blub blub’ and is produced by skrillex. the harmonica really makes this song, i feel. the intro is also captivating. bradford cox is a genius.
i started listening to this band recently and i am so obsessed with this song. it’s just, i don’t know. i think it says everything about how i am feeling in such a short time. it doesn’t have many lyrics and it isn’t that long but it’s absolutely incredible. the mute trumpet is beautiful as well. jesus. ‘i’m so tired of you’.
i don’t think i can ever make a playlist without putting jann arden on there somewhere. i am going to end this mix with jann arden because i think it feels appropriate. jann arden reminds me of being seven years old and taking my cassette walkman with me along with my dog and the keys for the mailbox. this song seems really calming. ‘cardboard masks of all the people i’ve been’ is probably the best line that has ever been written in canadian music. jann arden was the original canadian adult contemporary goth. remember that.
i hope these songs make you feel a little less lonely. i guess we could all feel a little less lonely sometimes.
this would constitute my ‘writing mixtape’ which is ‘something i could conceivably write to or have written to’. 80 percent of the time i use noise-canceling headphones (like the ones construction workers have) to write in complete silence. sometimes i attempt writing with music on but have little confidence in doing so. i have gone through my journal and found some things i listened to while writing and achieved some measure of success.
song has a soft build which is a nice way to start writing but eventually leads into a 4-5 minute beat which helps for typing. song seems to tell a story which in turn helps narrative flow (or so i wrote) and the delicate keyboard track seems to give rise to imaginative, pinkish thoughts.
both a watery and metallic track with a sort of adventurous guitar riff moving about the nature. constant drops of water are calming while guitar and moaning build you up, makes one feel confident. sentences flow quicker but are under control generally. at times builds so much energy it’s better to stop and use music while re-reading what you wrote, good for feeling out the letters and sounds. good to speak your sentences over.
epic, fantastical and dark. a meditative, pre-writing pump up song. good to start as soon as you feel a crescendo has been reached. move your head while you write, write high, feel good about sentences song. astral bit-byte notes amidst epic ‘geometric’ construction makes me feel good and explore new mind zones when typing.
probably most useful for brainstorming or outlining. seems to start in chaos and build to coherence and hook. nice to sketch out ideas and draw to. a nice long song with gradually building structure. foot tapping while writing. the metal scoops of beats make me draw circles around things, see a circumference.
a soft technical piece using classic kraftwerk repetition with a chippy little beat. something nobou uematsu probably listened to obsessively in the 90s. repetition allows mind to focus in a singular path, good for writing on one idea, re-working something. sub-consciously i contemplate 1980s german cultural cliches which can make for interesting character development when writing.
ALBUM: MARE by JULIAN LYNCH
can’t pick just one. easily the best editing/revision/reflection album. listened to this obsessively throughout 2011 constantly trying to fuse the tone of this album with the tonality of my own writing. each track sort of spreads a unique joyful-melancholy, but exists as a separate world. you are in a sedated mood when listening and sedated is a good mood to be in when editing. it is very akin to the type of writing i like as well. look at this quote from mare’s review pitchfork. it’s as if it is talking about a tao lin story:
“..is also sneakily complex. You can just let it wash over you— and it’s good at that— but the closer attention you pay, the more detail emerges.”