I came across Jonathon Bafus, a local Sacramento Drummer, when he and Tera Melos’ Nick Reinhart opened for Melt Banana with a totally improvised free jazz/noise set. His obvious exuberance and interesting kit configuration put him on the radar for our drummer Q&A. Since the he’s been playing around Sacto with Gentleman Surfer. I caught up with him via email and he graciously offered his two cents on the following….
All posts tagged california
October 25th, 2012
“Don’t ask me about any other band or whether they’re touring. This is a new band and it’s what we’re concentrating on now.” — Omar Rodriguez Lopez paraphrased
The Troubadour seems to have once again taken on a Cape Canaveral-like character for Omar Rodriguez Lopez. Nearly ten years ago, it served as a celebratory launching site for his other band, the indefinitely moored Mars Volta. This past Thursday, the loyal but confused remnants of that band’s ever-splintering following–I, being one of them–showed up expectant with hope that Omar & crew could repeat history and lead us, by way of planetary-leap, to another celestial musical orb that resides within that distinctly rare–in astronomer’s parlance–Goldilocks Zone, capable of sustaining our devoted fascination. Colonies are forming as we speak.
In the 2.5 years I’ve spent in Northern California the possibility that Winters and it’s surrounding areas housed a particularly ambitious culinary scene did not seem possible. So when the welcoming handshake was extended while walking up the tree lined path from the car to the farmhouse, it was apparent that even if the food was miserable, at least the people would be warm.
If former Starvations lead singer Gabriel Hart were a soap opera character (in his reincarnation as the lead singer of Jail Weddings that wouldn’t be a stretch – just watch their latest videos!) he’d be a cross between Blackie Parrish (General Hospital) and Erica Kane (All My Children) – at once a petulant heartthrob and supreme bitch goddess.
Filled with saccharine 60s pop chords, Jail Weddings’ recently released album, Love is Lawless, is the perfect compliment to the hysterical drama found on daytime soap operas and in Harts’ lyrics. The band itself could be his ensemble cast playing up his vaguely threatening croons – after watching two of the thirteen videos that will be produced for each song on the album, I half-believe the cliff hanger in this soap opera will be the bludgeoning of one or more of his band mates.
I hate math. I’ve never been good at it and this has always caused me anxiety. So it makes sense that any band described as “Math Rock” or “Math Metal” is not going to grab my attention. Much like algebra, of which I fucked off and failed twice in high school and then once in college, I pretend this genre of rock doesn’t exist – until now.
According to Wikipedia Math Rock is a ‘rhythmically complex, guitar-based style of experimental rock that emerged in the late 1980s. It is characterized by complex, atypical rhythmic structures (including irregular stopping and starting), angular melodies, and dissonant chords.”
Well, that sounds like almost every band in my iTunes, which now includes Tera Melos, a three piece experimental band whose brand of music is “characterized by quickly alternating rhythmic patterns, start-stop dynamics, improvisation, two-handed tapping on the guitar, extended open-ended bridges, and the use of effect pedals and samplers.” After years of DIY touring, self-releasing a few EPs, and changes in band structure (they used to be a four piece) they’ve landed on Sargent House Records where they recorded their first full length album, Patagonian Rats, to be released on September 7, 2010.
Since I am skeptical of anything written on Wikipedia, and the fact the Tera Melos Wikipedia page has recently undergone some changes, I thought it prudent to ask someone who might know what exactly is this Math Rock and does TM fit the genre. So I called Nick Reinhart, founding member/singer/guitarist, and asked him to explain. He did.
Visit Tera Melos on the Interwebs:
Curious about Math rock? Read the Wikipedia article: Math Rock
German School photographer, Thomas Struth, refused to indulge in the ‘spectacular,’ meaning, he made a concerted effort to apply no grand theories, techniques, nor imbued his photographs with any discernible sentimentality. He did, however, make a concerted effort to compose neutral images focused to infinity regardless if he was making a family portrait or cityscape. In this manner he is much like his instructor, Bernhard Becher of the Düsseldorf Academy, where he, along with his wife Hilda Becher, were the lords of the “German School of Photography” aesthetics, which eschewed aesthetics for the sake of exacting composure and superior veracity through the avoidance of emotionality in photography. Struth has said that he is most impressed with images that bare no personal signature which is interesting because everyone knows a German School photograph when they are confronted with one because they all employ the same compositional techniques (of which they claim to not do) and this belies a ‘personal signature.’
Reaching far into one’s throat
retrieving every wild moan
that may have existed there…
It’s late into the summer of 2008
Fall is peering at us
from every corner of dashing alleyways
that are now
lined with primo café’s
that roast the beans for each cup
to the backyard bands that play
to more than cans along the ground
to the fused hipsters
dancing like bright colored lollipops
all in a place that
once stuttered with loitering vagabonds
too drunk to care
too greased to befriend
crusading the sweep of trash
Finding a cup by the spare of hand out
Running their last stop
all around this
The city streets grow near silent
leaves at a faceless tremble point eastward
with no gentle perfume
The Holiday has taken it’s parade, lakeside
to the Tahoe resort
to the crisp swim and shadow play of fire pit story and dance
the nights here are anything but empty
For us urban monks
we remain to walk the quiet out from our bones
in the dramatic fashion of a Hollywood set
cigarette plumes on the slow
fedoras on the tilt
and a dark Levi strut
sneakers to the cool
for soft walk
and after your minutes of stage
your moment of James Dean
You feel the ground stirring restless under foot
the trees pave the way past the bopping
roses in colors of red, yellow and pink
thorning every passerby heading into the London pub
Hollywood’s left at the door
J st. is one of a few main streets that thumbs alongside the
avenues, which helps to make this time cap bearable
It’s also where the night reaches down for everyone to come
out from there dwellings to walk the bright lights
that hang on to the drunk sidewalks, glistening from the
swelling beers, falling from hand and mouth
of excited talk and bop
On a slant, you stroll the Capital Ave.
that’s too aged to sleep
crunchy and never at rest
pushing at both your sides
are these government buildings
that batter against one another
debating the importance
of the other
calloused and the aged
officials to dictate
for us to suffocate
Horse the Band is known primarily for their experimental hardcore sound mixing shredding guitars with soaring keyboard solos and screamo-style lyrics. They’re also known for something called Nintendo-core which is just a silly way of saying they use keyboards that sound vaguely like the soundtrack to War of Warcraft or whatever the kids are playing these days.
What I find most appealing about the band though, besides the screaming opaque lyrics, is their sense of irony and willingness to make interesting style and artistic choices that may seem gimmicky to some but are actually sincere efforts to expand their musical style. They also have a “take us or leave us (but please take us)!’ vibe that is too sincere to overlook – I’m a sucker for sensitive dicks. Actually their whole shtick is appealing because it mixes barely concealed sensitivity with extreme macho bravado. It seems like a put on probably because it is. It’s a slightly schizo approach, but at least it makes for interesting sounds, and even more interesting tour stories.
They’re about to embark on a nine-day tour in South Africa and Mozambique to promote their latest release Desperate Living (Vagrant Records) and are launching their pre-order campaign for the Earth Tour 6 CD Documentary and photobook available for purchase through their website beginning March 22nd.
I had the opportunity to speak at length with guitarist, David Isen, about the Earth Tour DVD/photobook project, 48 Hours in the Ukraine (which was as insane as it sounds), alternative distribution channels, rejection, perceptions and made him tell me how my favorite songs on the new CD came about and what they mean. Turns out what I thought they meant and what they actually mean are (no surprise) not even remotely related.
And if you must, become a fan on Facebook: horsetheband