Steve Greene’s “The Evil Behind The Eyes”

Happy Saturday the 14th. Today’s the day where I celebrate the giant that is actor Richard Benjamin. I’ll go grab my betamax copy of his classic Saturday the 14th and enjoy some alone time in the analog den downstairs and contemplate another 64 oz Tang and my 3rd burnt offering of Jiffy Pop.

Besides that, since it is Saturday the 14th, that means yesterday was Friday the 13th. I hope you at least gave Sean Cunningham some viewing time. Or something exploitative with lots of T&A and gore. Me? I watched last year’s season finale of Suits and then a couple episodes of Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee with the wife. I know, I’m pathetic. Such a disappointment as a horror fan. That’s okay, man. You know why? Because synth technician and horror scholar Steve Greene celebrated Friday the 13th in style. He released a new single that, for the time being, is a pay-what-you-want deal over at his Bandcamp page.

“The Evil Behind The Eyes” is a dense, dark, and beautifully crafted piece of music that seems to lie right into a musical world lined with Carpenter and Romero movie posters. Imagine walking into some dilapidated house that creaks and crumbles with each step forward. There’s moments of Middle Eastern flair that pop up, but for the most part it’s pure analog dread that weaves and curls up around your ankles as you make your way further into the house(and the song.) If Lalo Schifrin scored a 70s horror film, it may very well sound like this track.

Absolute stunner.

Head over to Steve Greene’s Bandcamp page and download this excellent Friday the 13th gift. Or make it a Saturday the 14th surprise. Either way, just put this in your ears. Pay-what-you-want. Maybe pay more than what you want. Let’s keep cats like Steve Greene continuing to be creative and busy working on music.

Smokey Emery : Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. IV: Photo of a Painting

I know that taking afternoon walks in 95 degree heat really isn’t the best idea, but I find myself doing just that. Sun beating down, cooking the asphalt like some molten pan of industrial brownies, I’ll take to the afternoon oven and walk 2 or 3 miles through housing additions nearby. Headphones on, I’ll fill my head with whatever can distract from the absurdity of my actions.

I can remember three years ago I took one of these heated strolls while listening to Colonial Patterns by Huerco S. The looping rhythms and dulled synths seemed to align with the heat perfectly. During this particular walk in this particular neighborhood there’s a stretch of road where no houses exist. It’s a simple strip of road where either side of this street is a short, dense bit of trees. Here the breeze stops and for a moment it’s as if I’m in an airtight bit of earth; no air movement and all sun beating down like some solar bully. The music in my ears seemed distant and muffled, like the sun and heat were dissolving it before it could come to fruition. In that moment there was both immense comfort and momentary terror, as if in that stretch of secluded street I no longer existed. I was walking on the surface of the sun in full view on no one and nothing, dissipating to my essence as “Plucked From the Ground, Towards the Sun” worked its way into my skull, disappearing into the pulse that ticked in my throat.

Just as I thought I’d surely vanish into the ether I made my out of that dense, hot stretch trees and turned a corner into an open view of the neighborhood and a hot wind hit my face. I had returned from beyond.

As I sit and listen to Smokey Emery’s(aka Daniel Hipólito) newest release, Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. lV : Photo of a Painting, I’m taken back to that feeling of the hot, afternoon walk. Industrial noise permeates the release like machines running in some echo chamber of the mind. I imagine Henry Spencer’s walks home to his apartment through industrial landscapes in Eraserhead as this album runs through my head. It’s the kind of noise you might hear late at night making its way out of your head as you try to fall asleep. Excess white noise leaving your brain that wakes the imagination and tricks it into hearing more than what’s there. This isn’t an album for the passive listener, but there is a calm detachment if you look for it.

Here’s a quick description of the album:

The Soundtracks for Invisibility series is a compilation of pieces that are conceptually centered around specific subjects and/or spaces. By combining field recordings from various locations at vastly different speeds, Hipólito is able to link displaced moments into cogent soundscapes. In this way, Smokey Emery utilizes time and substance as compositional elements that play an equal, if not dominant role in the sonic architecture.

This record feels like time and space slowed down. There’s a detachment of reality with Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. lV : Photo of a Painting that can feel hallucinogenic at times. There are moments of what sound like melody intertwined with the sheets of the droning field recordings, but they make themselves known only but for a moment.

There are many moments on this album where you feel as if you’ve stumbled across a distant carnival in a dream and can vaguely make out what sounds like music. “Where There’s No Ocean” sounds like distant life existing on some forgotten plane. “Dear Birds” warbles and echoes like a world being devoured by itself. Otherworldly noise created through a very real world committed to tape and then cut, pasted, looped and affected with echoes and wavering analog interpretation. “She is Outside” feels like pensive waiting on a street corner or a walk on a long stretch of lonely road. There’s tension, whether real or imagined. “Bright Keys” morphs like a song melting in the tape deck, something distant and strangely familiar turning into just strange.

Soundtracks for Invisibility Vol. lV : Photo of a Painting will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Field recordings slowed down, covered in effects and manipulated may not be something you’re willing to explore. But for those that are willing to step into Smokey Emery’s sound world and take a chance will be rewarded with repeated listens. Given that this is Vol. lV, there’s three other volumes to take in as well.

Food for thought.

Limited edition cassette and digital version available here

7.5 out of 10

 

 

Whales & Drones : Ten Questions With Thousand Foot Whale Claw

The first time I heard the name Thousand Foot Whale Claw I thought it was the title of a new High on Fire record. When I found out that wasn’t the case I may have been mildly disappointed. When I found out that Thousand Foot Whale Claw were in fact a drone loving, synth-heavy Krautrock four-piece that sound like a cross between everything that made Berlin School, THE Berlin School, I was overjoyed.

Thousand Foot Whale Claw is Justin Goers, Adam Jones, Zac Roesch and Neil Lord, and they are an Austin-based quartet who call Holodeck Records home. The band is made up of members of other bands such as S U R V I V E, Troller, Windows1995, Future Museums and Single Lash. TFWC are part of the Austin collective of electronic musicians pretty much putting heady electronic music back on the map. I don’t think Austin says they have a collective, but I’m officially saying it’s a collective here(that is unless someone else already has.)

I’ve jumped into the deep end of the Thousand Foot Whale Claw pool and it’s an amazing depth of sound and vibes. Their newest, the excellent Black Hole Party, is a very honed-in listening experience. They’ve left the drone excursions at the studio door in lieu of more concentrated sonic affairs. The results are six tracks that vary from air tight grooves that could easily make a club of sweaty zoners move a limb or two; to epic, spatial tracks that dissipate into the ether. Thousand Foot Whale Claw never lose the hypnotic and hallucinogenic vibes of their previous albums, they’ve just given us a concentrated version.

I threw ten questions out into the ether hoping to hear from Thousand Foot Whale Claw. Here are the responses. Enjoy.


J. Hubner: How long has TFWC been together? How did you guys get together? What other bands are you all in?

Thousand Foot Whale Claw: We have been releasing music since 2012 but our roots go way back to when 3/4 of us meet in college around 2003 or 2004 in a small town called San Marcos. For a long time it was just loud and thrashing bass and drums plus whoever wanted to play. Everything was mostly for fun, and it was only years later after everyone moved to Austin that we decided it was time to start up again.

Adam plays in S U R V I V E and Troller, Justin plays in Troller and Windows1995, and Neil plays in Future Museums and Single Lash.

J. Hubner: Where does the name Thousand Foot Whale Claw come from? I did actually Google to see if whales have claws. 

TFWC: Justin made illustrations and studied printmaking in college, and he loves art in the style of Frank Frazetta. He made a print one day of this gnarly looking prehistoric whale with a giant claw and just ran with it for a band name. A lot of us had ridiculous band names back then, and for whatever reason this one stuck.

J. Hubner: What or who are the inspirations and influences behind the band’s sound? There’s definitely some Berlin School vibes, but especially with the new album there’s more modern touches as well as some great guitar work. 

TFWC: Yeah we are big fans of all the classic Krautrock bands, especially Neu!, Manuel Gottsching and Tangerine Dream. We also love Om, Dawn of Midi, Pye Corner Audio, Kilchhofer, Sunn O))) and tons of others. We have always seen this band as platform for us to explore whatever we feel like. We all agree what Whale Claw is without a lot of talk about it, and that is essentially why we are a band.

J. Hubner:  How do you guys feel your approach to the music has changed or evolved from the beginning? From something like Time Brothers where two songs cover nearly 45 minutes in Phaedra-like fashion, to Cosmic Winds with tracks winding down closer to the 5 to 7 minute range, to new record Black Hole Party with even more concise time frames, it feels like TFWC are honing in with each release.

TFWC: The theme of the first two cassettes Lost in Those Dunes and Time Brothers was huge and continuous walls of sound with a lot of layers and improv. That was fun for a while, but we eventually moved on. There are many directions we hope to take the band in the studio, and our sound has indeed evolved to be much more concise and composed. We love beats, riffs, sequences, chord changes, drops and all of the other things that make song writing interesting beyond tone exploration. We will probably continue to get more and more complex as we keep going, but will continue to put out a drone album from time to time.

J. Hubner:  Let’s talk about the new record, Black Hole Party. How long was the writing/recording process for the album? 

TFWC: It took a really long time to write and record these songs! It was hard, and at times we struggled a lot. Dylan Cameron produced this album and made it sound great, but he also creatively talked us back from the ledge in a lot of ways. Dylan played a huge role in getting this album made, and it would have been something completely different if it weren’t for him. We learned a lot in the process of recording Black Hole Party, and it’s going to make the next one even better.

J. Hubner: The album seems to cover many facets of electronic music, from the concise groove-inflected “Deridium Rail” and “Black Hole Party” to the more loose and free-floating “Naiad” and “Genesis Effect”, to even some acid freakout moments in album closer “Double Abyss”. Going into creating the record were there some definite ideas and vibes you wanted to hit? Or did you all just get in a room and see where it would go?

TFWC: We’ve always thought of us as a band for people like ourselves. If you like sci-fi movies and experimental music, then you can probably dig our band. Black Hole Party is unintentionally all over the place just because we had a lot of different song ideas. We did worry that this album may only make sense to us, but ultimately we make music to our own standards, and we feel good about the record.

J. Hubner: When Thousand Foot Whale Claw plays live, how does the band approach album material in a live setting? Do you typically stay true to the recorded versions, or does improvisation play a big role in the live experience? 

TFWC: We usually use live sets to develop material for the next album. Mostly what we play now is post Black Hole Party, but when we do play an album track, it’s definitely a loose interpretation of the studio version. Whether or not we decide to perform a set with live drums or a drum machine dictates a lot. We like to play experimental drone sets, electronic sets with beats & sequences and loud full band sets with lots of shredding. We would like to incorporate all of them into one ambitious live set, but have not yet mastered an undertaking like that.

J. Hubner: There’s a video I often go back to and watch where Tangerine Dream performs in this old church. For me it’s just this overwhelming scene where these spaced-out German hippies are creating space and alternate universes within some ancient house of God.

What is one of coolest places Thousand Foot Whale Claw have performed? 

TFWC: The coolest place that we played is on the campgrounds at LEVITATION fest a couple of years ago. Our set was at 2 in the morning after an evacuation notice with a thunderstorm approaching. The audience was insanely drunk and tripping on psychedelics, and they gave zero fucks about the storm. We had a great performance, and Kyle Dixon sat in with us processing the guitars and synths through his modular rig. It was fun!

We haven’t played at any churches, temples, graveyards, ruins or dunes yet, but we want to.

J. Hubner: I feel like in my lifetime, Austin has become a musical ground zero. A place where creativity and artistic individualism has grown by leaps and bounds. I think Holodeck has had so much to do with that, creating a space for these artists to flourish. What do you think it is about that area? I’ve always assumed it was Texas’ wide open spaces that overwhelm and open artists of every sort to think big when creating. I could be wrong, though. 

TFWC: Austin is a great place for music, and musicians from all over Texas and the surrounding states gravitate here because of it. Everyone is in Austin to be somebody, and that energy makes a huge difference creatively. You can get noticed and “make it” here, which is pretty special and only exists in a few cities. We love Austin.

J. Hubner:  What does the rest of 2018 have in store for Thousand Foot Whale Claw?  

TFWC: We are writing and recording the next album right now. We will hopefully play some live shows and possibly even tour if scheduling works out. We have been happy with the response to Black Hole Party (the LP’s sold out on release day), and we are feeling pretty optimistic about the future right now.


Grab a copy of Black Hole Party here.

IE : Pome

Listening to IE’s new record Pome is a lot like stepping into a dream. The five-piece from Minneapolis dabble in space-y, hallucinogenic songs that are as much soundtracks to existential drifts as they are fever dream walks on the moon. There’s lots of familiar vibes, but nothing you can quite put your finger on as you slip in and out of consciousness with this album. Bits of ambient drone, noise rock, buzzing electronic, and waves of experimental music come from all angles. Everything from Terry Riley, Massive Attack, and even Popol Vuh permeate IE’s musical world, which makes Pome an immense listening experience.

20 years ago if you had said you were in a drone band you may have just gotten a weird look and shown the door. The 80s and 90s pretty much made it a violation of man’s law to stop and make time to look into yourself. The decade of shiny things led to the decade of indifference. Nobody had time to crack open their skull and try and tidy up what was inside. Thankfully there has been a resurgence and revitalization of ambient and drone bands in the last several years. Bands that take that musical realm seriously. Heady trips into the subconscious to find some meaning in it all. For me, that’s an absolute must in the situation we live in. Bands like Landing, Billow Observatory, and of course IE, are making ambient and drone cool again(or for the first time? Or just cooler.)

Apparently the beginnings of Pome can be linked to a hot tub. Drummer Meredith Gill was gifted a hot tub by her eccentric handyman. An 8-person hot tub was then installed in Gill’s garage and she would soak in the hot, healing waters after band practice. You can almost feel the hot and consuming waters envelope you as you listen to album opener “Amulet”. A droning, hypnotic track that cascades like clouds with looping synth and simple percussion. Elements of Terry Riley permeate the track as Crystal Myslajek’s vocals appear from the ether. “An Empty Vessel Makes Much Noise” has a Krautrock vibe to it. More Popol Vuh than Neu!. The rhythm, quiet and subtle, leaves space for you to get lost in.

Elsewhere, the middle point of “Moon Shot” and “Idol Horizon” seem to have more pop elements than what came before. Not so much radio fodder, but there’s more emphasis on groove and melody with noise and drone floating just below the surface. “Nebula” closes the album on a free-floating space jam. Elements of Tangerine Dream step in and out of the mix on this excellent track. The Berlin School vibe is strong here.

Pome is one hell of a debut. Minneapolis can get pretty arctic in the winter months, and IE convey a certain isolation in their sparse, galactic jams. January in Minneapolis might as well be January on the moon. We need a soundtrack for those quiet, cold, and desolate moments. Pome is that soundtrack.

Grab a copy of Pome here.

7.8 out of 10

 

Jake Schrock’s “Cosmic Ocean”

There’s a very specific vibe that permeates Jake Schrock’s newest track “Cosmic Ocean”. Inside its swelling synths and “come hither” pulse there’s also a sense of impending dread. Like standing on the shoreline and looking into the endless horizon, seeing or sensing just beyond the orange and purple hues some impending doom. Despite knowing the end is nigh, you can’t help but just stand and be enveloped into the fractured, paranormal storm that awaits.

Schrock is part of the electronic music collective of Holodeck Records, and a Texas-based electronic musician. His work is steeped in bubbly analog 80s synthesizers and has the feel of some lost 80s classic film score. Part Band of the Hand and part Risky Business, Schrock’s “Cosmic Ocean” pulls you in with a catchy melody on the surface that covers headier vibes just underneath.

My first experience with Jake Schrock was with his contribution to Holodeck Records’ compilation Holodeck Vision One and the track “Levitation Station”. There was a real uplifting, light vibe to that track that instantly pulled me in. It definitely made me take note. With “Cosmic Ocean”, Schrock reveals a darker, headier side to his analog world. One where things seem calm at the surface, but something darker awaits.

Jake Schrock’s debut releases, Tropical Depression, arrives via Holodeck Records July 27, 2018. Check out “Cosmic Ocean” below, and preorder the limited edition cassette here.

Garage Sales…Revisited

I’m not  a fan of garage sales. Not a fan of going to them, but most definitely not a fan of having them. I just don’t think it’s in me to host a gathering in my garage where my old shirts, shoes, and worn down furniture are the main attraction. I appreciate the purpose, which is to clear your house of clutter so you can make room for new clutter. But I can barely host gatherings at my house with friends and family, having to paste a fake smile on and pretend I like having strangers fingering old t-shirts and my son’s not-so cool action figures is damn near impossible.

My kids decided they wanted to have a garage sale. The wife and I said fine, but this one’s on all you guys. You’re getting all your stuff around, pricing it yourself, and setting it all up. You’re also getting yourselves up early and having it all ready by 8am. They seemed okay with the arrangement. Of course, it never works out like that and we still had to help them get everything together. There were a couple signs set up the night before, but no ads in the paper or social media, so it was an absolute bust.

Garage sale was to start at 8am, but of course an older woman and her adult daughter showed up at 7:40am as we’re setting this thing up.

Random Person: “So how much for the action figures?”

My Son: “Umm, they’re $2 a piece.”

Random Person: “Well, I’ll give you .50 a piece.”

My Son: “Umm, okay.”

Just that exchange alone was enough for me to close things down. My blood went cold each time someone fingered and pried into the kids’ old wares. I don’t think it’s normal to have those levels of animosity towards complete strangers, but I never said I was normal.

I didn’t grow up going to garage sales, or having them for that matter. My mom never took me to the neighbor’s house to search for things for me. If I needed clothes we went to JC Penneys or Harvey’s downtown. If there was toys to be bought they were bought at 3D or maybe an action figure or two were picked up at Hook’s Drugstore while we were picking up a prescription of mine(I was sick a lot as a kid.) As far as clothes for me, I usually got hand-me-downs from my big brother, so by the time I grew out of those they were already pretty worn and beat up. My mom was a shopper. She liked shopping for clothes, and that rubbed off on me. I was probably the only 7-year old thrilled to find bargains on the bargain racks. We’d hit the local all-in-one store Harvey’s. It was the precursor to the Walmarts, Targets, and Meijers minus the grocery store. They had clothes, toys, sporting goods, music, and even a small pet store as well. That’s where I got a lot of my t-shirts and random toys(toy guns, Star Wars, Hot Wheels.)

If we needed something, we’d go to the store not someone’s garage. That’s just how it was.

If you love garage sales, both going to and hosting them, then that’s totally cool for you. I’m not judging those that enjoy them. I just don’t like them. I’m just not a bargain hunter. I can’t chew people down, and I don’t like being chewed down from .50 to .25. I don’t care if you are pulling random toys out of a broken clear plastic bin on a stranger’s lawn, maybe just pay the .50 and move on?

I don’t know. I guess I’m still a little burnt on Saturday’s 4 hours of absolute waste. We did make up for it, though. The boy and I hit Chimp’s Comix for some comic book healing. We also picked up a pizza and then watched The World’s End that night. All was not lost.

And I also picked up some vinyl healing as well. Seemed appropriate.

One More Revolution : The Last Will and Testament of Billy Rivers and F***ing Panthers

You start a band so you can make some noise, annoy the neighbors, and maybe even impress a girl or two. As time moves on priorities change, you learn a few more chords, and the drummer can keep better time. The music evolves from teen angst and contrarian points of view about societal flaws to turning that outward mirror inward. You go from wanting to light the first fuse in the next great revolution to wondering what happened to that bright-eyed kid with so much ambition and drive to make a difference.

Welcome to getting old.

Billy Rivers and his pals started their punk rock outfit F***ing Panther seven years ago in a small town not too far from Fort Wayne. Over the course of those 7 years they’ve released three albums(including their newest and most recent, Standards Of Living) and have played countless shows around the area. Now, in their mid-20s with full-time jobs, marriages, and general “real life” settling in, the guys are at a point where the outer revolution has died down and inner revolutions are taking over.

I sat down and talked to Billy Rivers about the band, the debacle of creating their swan song album, and why this may be it for his band F***ing Panthers.


EA Poorman: It’s been three years since we spoke. What have you guys been up to? You guys still intact?

Billy Rivers: To be completely honest we haven’t really been intact since we started recording this album, which was way back in January of 2017. A lot of stuff had changed in all of our personal lives (marriage, new houses, new jobs, breakups, etc.) and we all kind of had the feeling that things were winding down with the band as real life issues kind of pushed forward on everyone’s priorities list. I was really focused on writing and getting the “Standards of Living” tracks as tight and polished as possible so we didn’t really play out all that much because we were beginning to burn ourselves out on songs that hadn’t even been recorded yet.

EA Poorman: So real life came creeping in.

Billy Rivers: I’ve heard a lot of people compare being in a band to being in a relationship- with practices being like dates, shows being like sex, and where making an album is like having a kid. So this kind of felt like we were having a kid to save the marriage – but we entered the studio on life support. And instead of revitalizing us, the recording process held us hostage for 16 grueling months and pretty much extinguished any spark we were hoping for before we could even hear any mixes of the record. But I wrote the album as if it would be our last, I just kind of hoped it wouldn’t be.

EA Poorman: Well your last album was 2014s Two Ways of Life, and now this newest one is Standards of Living. How did you get to this point? The new one is great, btw. You guys still sound like a band evolving. 

Billy Rivers: After “Two Ways” was released in September 2014, I wanted to take some time to kind of cleanse our palette a bit. When we released “Learning to Die” back in 2011, I already had 8-9 songs ready to roll out for the next album. I didn’t want to do that this time around. I wanted to empty the chambers and start fresh on the third LP. So after taking a minute to catch our breath and kind of enjoy what we had done with “Two Ways”, Max and I started writing the first songs off of “Standards” back in early 2015. But for the first time in a long time I was feeling really burnt out. I was mostly just disappointed that “Two Ways” didn’t have more of an impact. I had built it up in my head that that record was going to change all of our lives. It was going to be our springboard. And when it wasn’t and I started to see everyone’s interest in the band start to diminish (including my own), I realized things were on the decline. We weren’t ever going to be the comet streaking across the sky that I imagined we might one day be.

EA Poorman: What were the themes you were wanting to hit on the new record? Was there a narrative through line?

Billy Rivers: With “Two Ways” we had a very linear narrative planned throughout the record but with “Standards” I wanted to get back to writing one song at a time. But as I was writing I noticed a theme seeping into all of the lyrics. It was about losing your youth, losing your drive. It was me dealing with and accepting that the band was dying and this would probably be our final record. So I basically wrote it as an epitaph. Ending things on our terms – before they got stale and I was just going through the motions. That became my motivation. Of course that all got derailed when we had to wait around for a year to hear it…

EA Poorman: A year to hear it? What happened?

Billy Rivers: The album was recorded in a home office here in Fort Wayne. I wont call it out by name, but I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who cares about making music because the experience will bleach that out of you entirely. It was like we were on one of the planets from Interstellar. Stepping into the studio was like being on another planet where 15 minutes turned into 4 hours. I thought we had made it through the worst part when tracking finished but we had to wait a full calendar year (May 2017 – May 2018) for the mastering and mixing to be complete so we could hear more than 1 finished track. It was a nightmare. We were hoping to cut down on our time between albums with a simple 10 track release but somehow 45 minutes of music took a year and a half to produce. Everyone’s patience was so exhausted by the end of it all, that I can’t honestly tell you that everyone in the band has even listened to it. I don’t know if I can ever listen to it without fuming over all of the time spent that we’ll never get back. It’s infuriating, I’m getting mad talking to you about it right now (hahah) And even with all of that time sunk into it, it still doesn’t sound anything like we had planned. We went through extensive referencing sessions and while the finished album sounds good, it’s nowhere near the sound we were aiming for. But at the end of it all I was just so relieved to have anything at all that I didn’t care. I just had to get this thing from looming over me a second longer. We were all certain we’d never get a finished copy of the record. And until about a month ago, we had no reason to think otherwise.

EA Poorman: Oh man, that’s terrible. I can’t imagine having your record looming over you like that for so long. Despite those issues the album does sound very good. Has your writing process changed since the beginning?

Billy Rivers: Yeah definitely. “Standards” was way more of a collaborative process than any of our other albums. I probably wrote 75 – 80% of “Learning” and “Two Ways” on my own where “Standards” is probably made up of less than half of my own stuff. We hashed out a lot more in practice and our guitarist Max really did a lot of the heavy lifting.

EA Poorman: Going into the initial writing process of the new record, who or what were some influences on that?

Billy Rivers: When trying to shape a personality for this record I thought since “Learning” basically encompassed being a pissed off teenager, “Two Ways” was about a lost 20 year old trying to find their identity – let’s make the third one about getting older and creeping towards 30. A lot of punk music is all about being young and reckless and fighting authority and falling in love but you don’t hear many songs from the perspective of the old guy at the basement show. So Jeff Rosenstock was a major influence, because he’s one of the only people in punk that covers that terrain so well and “Worry” is probably one of the best punk records this decade. He’s an incredible song writer. Another big influence was “In Utero”. That whole disenchanted farewell vibe fit exactly what I wanted this album to be. That opening line is so great “Teenage angst has paid off well, now I’m bored and old…”

While we were recording “Two Ways” I think I realized, that musically this was as heavy as I wanted the band to get. I loved the progression from “Learning” to “Two Ways” and that push to get heavier felt very natural but taking the next step into full-on metal territory just didn’t feel right. It wasn’t what I wanted the band to be so we made the analogy that if “Two Ways” was a Black Sabbath album, we wanted the follow up to be more like an Ozzy solo record. And in the final writing stages of “Two Ways” we stumbled into this weird melancholy mid-tempo groove with songs like “Winter” and “The Black Lodge” that was just so different and intriguing to me. They were catchy without being too redundant or formulaic. That was where I wanted to push the next record.

The Misfits are a super catchy band but when people stop and listen to what they’re singing along to, the actual words are pretty revolting (hahah) That was the reaction I wanted people to have with this record. Make songs that could get stuck in your head and by the time you realize how fucked up the lyrics are, you can’t get them out.

EA Poorman: What have you been listening to lately? Favorite album of the year so far?

Billy Rivers: I’ve been pretty consumed by the John Maus boxset that just came out this spring. It’s incredible stuff and his “Addendum” album that came with the set is probably my favorite record released this year. I’ve also been listening to “Seed” by Looming quite a bit. Missed that one from last year but I caught them at BledFest this May and they were amazing. Death Grips, Hop Along, Vince Staples, Freddie Gibbs, Hotelier. All kinds of great stuff lately, I love it.

EA Poorman: Are there any shows to promote what may well be your swan song for F***ing Panthers?

Billy Rivers: I don’t know. I think we may try and sneak in a farewell / release show in early August but having not really played together since December 2016, I honestly have no idea how it’s all going to shake out.

EA Poorman: F***ing Panthers have been a band since 2011(if not before that.) What’s the key to keeping things going that long? Seven years for a local band is a substantial length of time. Is it a matter of as long as there’s something to keep you blood boiling and having something to fight against you’ll have songs to write? 

Billy Rivers: I think you really have to form good relationships with one another for it to last. We all have a shared passion for music and are respectful of each other’s personal lives when things come up and the band has to take a backseat. I think a big part of the band dissolving is that we don’t really have much to be angry about anymore. Sure, on a more global and political scale the world is in a worse place than it’s ever been since we started this band but for the most part – that’s borrowed pain. While I sympathize and support a lot of the causes happening right now, I can’t act like they effect me directly in any way other than reading about it and having my stomach turn at the future our country is creating. Protest songs from a white 30 year old middle american Hoosier just seem disingenuous and borderline exploitative. It’s not like we’d be spreading awareness, this garbage is everywhere you look every single day. Songs aren’t going to change any of that and there are already plenty of pissed off white dudes polluting the internet with their opinions, so why add to the noise? I think we need some new voices.

EA Poorman: So is this it for you? Putting the guitar in storage?

Billy Rivers: I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t written anything at all since working on “Standards of Living”, I’m just not sure where it will go from here. It feels like it’s too late to start over with a new band but I also don’t think I’m ready to lose that creative outlet of writing and making things with my friends. So who knows.

Download Standards of Living here and keep a look out for that possible farewell/release show.