segunda-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2017

Iron Flowers with Repeater - An Interview

Sofisticação é o melhor adjetivo que pode descrever o quinteto californiano, Repeater.

Indie rock como deve ser, melódico, pegajoso, harmônico, tocante por assim dizer. Conexões com uma imensidão de gente, de Bowie a R.E.M., de Peter Gabriel a Cure, de Chameleons a Editors, de pós punk a dream pop, tudo tem espaço na fórmula do Repeater.

Experimente urgentemente o álbum homônimo de 2015, uma daquelas preciosidades que somente o submundo dos bons sons podem ofertar a você.

***** Interview with Repeater *****

Q. When did Repeater start? Tell us about the history...
Repeater came out of a band I had with Rob Wallace, The Main Frame. We were a 4-piece synth, post punk revival, darkwave sort of band. When that band dissolved we decided to start a bigger, more open sounding band. At the time, we were inspired by bands like Mew, more angular bands, shoegaze and alternative, and of course the Cure, New Order, Smiths, et cetera. We definitely wanted to take those sounds and make a bigger, more lush type of music than we had made before. We were able to form a 5-piece band pretty quickly and started writing in about 2005. Over about 10 years, we changed a lot of members and traversed a few styles as well. We made several albums and EPs as a traditional band. We had label interest and dealt with several labels and companies over the years - but all of our creative output has been very, very DIY. We have been lucky to work on shoestring budgets with talented engineers and producers even on our demos and early EPs. Our last album, 'Repeater', was more of a project album, but all the talented people involved in the recording did play together as a band.

Q: Who are your influences?
As a band we took most of our influences from indie music and post punk bands. I am the singer and main songwriter. I think R.E.M., Peter Gabriel, and David Bowie, were really big influences on my singing and lyrics when I started, along with indie rock like Pixies or Jawbreaker and more aggressive music like post rock and post hardcore, as I adapted to the styles of my bands. But Repeater does not sound that way as a band. We created a very big sound from simple parts and avoided rock cliches like drum fills and solos. The band took influences from post-punk, darkwave, lots of indie, shoegaze, post-rock, and newer bands like Interpol, Arcade Fire, Editors, that sort of thing. New Order, Joy Division, Cure and Chameleons have always been a pervasive influence on our sound. On the last album, 'Repeater', we explored a few more styles, since it was a project album and we used a lot of programming and overdubs and further explored some dreamy and British styles. Repeater's song structures are simple, but we have always tried to be inventive and to break one or two rules with every track. We have always had a bit of a progressive side even though the music is simple.

Q. Make a list of 5 albums of all time…
Here are some albums that particularly influenced my writing in Repeater. This is more revealing than a personal best-of list.

Leonard Cohen - The Best Of
The blueprint for good lyrics. Cold, romantic, distant, on the edge of breaking, but somehow still in control. Beautiful, delicate and simple music, beyond folk into something more plain and minimal.

R.E.M. - Document
I listened to a lot more R.E.M. than Smiths when I was young. This record doesn't have the fuzzy jangle of their earlier work, but it is more spacious, serious, political, and abstract. A fully realized alternative album in 1987.

Blonde Redhead - Misery is a Butterfly
Very haunting album with drama and atmosphere. Darkly themed indie rock with some post-hardcore influence. Repeater could meet the same description, sometimes.

Mew - Frengers
This album was very influential on Repeater's formation, especially the drum patterns and the two guitar, orchestrated sound. 'Snow Brigade' is a really good template for a melodic, loud band to follow for arrangement.

Low - Things We Lost In The Fire
A great minimal creation from Low and Steve Albini. Sparse in every way, and lyrically crushing. Beautiful and dynamic - turn it way up!

Q. How do you feel playing live?
I have always loved playing live. I have been in some band every year since 1998, until 2016. I have not toured extensively, unfortunately, but touring the West Coast and Southwest USA has been a great experience every time. I like getting up there and doing my best, and all my anxiety seems to drift away when the show starts. I've gotten to play in other local bands as a sideman or guest member and I have always enjoyed it. I even got to sing live in a very heavy project, Fear and the Nervous System, I recorded an album with some really amazing rock musicians. I only got to play a few shows with that band but I treasure the experience. Right now I'm just in a Joy Division cover band called Boy Division playing bass guitar. We don't play many shows but it's very fun. Repeater played many shows over the years, from bars to clubs to larger venues on occasion. We were well loved in Long Beach, California, our point of origin. Repeater shows always had good dynamic sound. good tones and a loud, even playing style. We got to play with lots of up and coming bands and some high profile shows. I feel like we were always competitive, no matter where we played, or with what kind of band.

Q. How do you describe Repeater sounds?
Spacious indie rock with a lot of 80's and experimental rock influences. A little bit of 'new rock revolution'. Dark and moody, but often aggressive. 2 guitars, synth, bass, drums and vocals, for most of the songs. Many pop structures and dramatic arrangements using simple parts. Guitar sounds inspired by British indie and post-punk bands. Driving picked bass with plenty of bright overtones. Synth with classic analog and 80's sounds, tasteful and minimal like The Cure. Vocals, raw, expressive, brooding. Pop structures with long builds and interludes on some songs. On 'Repeater' (self titled LP 2015) female harmonies (from Tess Shapiro) and additional percussion and drum programming add layers of sophistication to simple pop compositions. A wide range of styles exists across all of our recordings.

Q: Tell us about the process of recording the songs ?
Everything we have done has been somewhat DIY - to us that meant no label, no management, little to no budget, no long term marketing strategy. We have worked with good producers, notably Ross Robinson and Christopher Fudurich. Robinson produced our most gritty album, We Walk From Safety. Fudurich produced our Iron Flowers album and our last album, 'Repeater'. He joined the band as bass player for the last album as well. Except for that album, the songs were mostly written as a band in the rehearsal space. I have always been the main composer and songwriter, but the band members always have had a major part in creating the sound and structure of each song. Even on the last album, which I composed mostly myself, all the people involved had some say in the process and production. Most of our recordings mix elements of low, mid, and hi fidelity recording techniques, good instruments, bad instruments, great vintage gear, consumer grade stuff, and lots of work in Pro Tools. We did lots of layering on synthesizer on most recordings, and piano and percussion when necessary. I do a lot of subtle harmonies in the studio but the leads are mostly solo voice. In Repeater, I always valued the lyrics and the substance of the song more than the feel and vibe of the song, so I always keep the vocals dry enough to understand every single word. It isn't cool, but I value my lyrics.

As a band, we were able to recreate almost every single recorded song very effectively live. The band who played the shows with me for the last album deserve a lot of credit for building that pop sound into a DIY live act.

Q. Which new bands do you recommend?
There are always so many good bands, if you look hard and find what you enjoy. People like you, with your Blog, expose so much good old and new music. I'll recommend some locals with brand new material. Tennis System, dreamy, gazey, pop punk and emo inspired. Night Nail, a dark, romantic band I'm working with on a new recording. LITRONIX, a highly sophisticated solo act by Kevin from a band called Dance Disaster Movement. Psychic Temple, the jazz-rock project of Chris Schlarb. MODERNS, future/retro synth music from Christopher Fudurich and his musical partner Rosie Okomura. SARRK, solo dark electronic compositions from Scott Martin, a reputable musician. I could recommend pages of only local music - these ones have recent or upcoming releases in my memory.

Q: Which band would you love to made a cover version of?
I have not done too many covers, and Repeater only did a few live Halloween sets with Joy Division and Clash covers - those were executed pretty well, and we did a few JD songs for encores once in a while. I have played covers with other bands I have played in as a guest. I am doing more in the recording arts lately, and I would like to do covers to test my skills at production and engineering. I think the Ramones would be good to cover, because they have really good simple songs underneath their monolithic sound, and it would be easy to transform one into a very different style. There are many other artists I would like to cover, of course.

Q: What are your plans for the future?
I would like to produce new music as soon as possible, this year, I think. I have all the tools to start writing and making demos and I am just trying to decide on a particular direction. I don't want my new music to sound like Repeater. That is a certain style of songwriting and singing I would like to leave behind, although I am very proud of everything we made. I feel the calling of the Kraut and Proto influence, and Iggy, and Talking Heads. I want to play music that is somewhat more primal and extended, and maybe even fun at times. If I succeed in creating a good sound, then I will think about playing with a band. Besides that, in music I'm trying to help other people record and produce songs and I'm developing more skills in audio, electronic music, and some composition. I've been learning a lot of mixing skills and I am trying to make fewer and fewer mistakes.

Q: Any parting words?
I appreciate this little interview. Thank you for letting me share this story with you. In no particular order, many thanks to Rob, Matt, Alex, Christopher, Jeff, Ross, Tess, Charlie, and Peter. And Paul.