Bare Minimum
The Bare Minimum by Justin Wright

Are you guys pleased with the new album coming out?

Anthony: Oh yeah, we're happy about the new record. Production is great, Phil Ek is a genius. We didn¹t have enough time. Amazingly everything came together.

Brian: We basically worked twenty-four hour days for the whole week

Joseph: Everyday was fourteen hours.

B: Phil realized that was all the time we had, we didn't have enough time.

Joseph: Nine days straight, except two days were like ten hours.

I heard a little bit of the first album awhile ago, this one sounds more polished, the recording is way better.

A: It's less frenetic, it's sort of got the same craze of trickiness and a little more subtle than self-indulgent.

B: Recording-wise it''s kind of like we can pretend like it was a big recording thing, we spent the whole day getting drum sounds and we switched around guitar amps a lot, where as the time before was more point and shoot and just go basically. We actua lly didn't end up using barely any of our stuff for equipment, well Joe used his own drums.

A: I used all my own stuff too.

B: I think I used some other peoples stuff.

A: Actually Brian and Mark faked it.

How's the label RX Remedy? It seems now days that people are becoming more concerned with what labels they're getting on and what kind of deals they're getting.

Joseph: We don't want to say if it's bad or good.

B: Basically they (Sub Pop) told him to stop working and run his label. He, for instance, gave us way less money to record, he was really earnest about it and worked really hard making his end of the things work really well, we would be just as happy. I don't care about the label Persia, it seems like he should do his job.

A: It's easier with a label that works with you than against you.

So, it's a division of Sub Pop?

Joseph: There's five divisions of labels I think, they're all Subpop funded.

How's the music scene up in Seattle?

B: We're deferent.

J: I figured that, most people stereotype it.

Joseph: There are no bands that sound similar to another band, all our friends are in bands that offspring. It's not a good thing or a bad thing, it's just not adhesive.

B: There's definitely no scene anymore. Even though it seemed like "grunge" was dead before anyone ever thought it was dead or whatever, it seems that everyone is scared of having a music "scene." People are also really scared of heavy music, like our first record, anything that is slightly heavy people don't want anything to do with it because of the whole stereotypical grunge thing.

I think the first and only time I saw you guys was the first VSS tour in Kansas City, the basement show.

B: I remember that, I think that was the only show who liked us better than The VSS.

Joseph: We got in a car accident with this girl the next day, who was actually at the show. We merged into her and she gets out and was like, "you guys were good last night," and we're like what? She said she was at the show, how many people were at that show? There was a hand full and we run into her.

I heard around the same time as The VSS shows you played with the Foo Fighters.

A: We played like ten shows with them, that was stellar.

Joe: And with Shutter to think.

B: Shutter was the only saving grace. So our first show from playing to two thousand people was playing in a basement for this kid and his sister.

A: We definitely went back to the real deal with The VSS.

B: Two people came from a Foo Fighters show to see us in Denver.

A: That was about the average we had, between two and ten people were kinda into us. The rest kinda just didn't quite get it.

B: We were playing these crazy-ass sets of the worst rock sets you could think of, just like really long totally dreary songs that don't go over very well.

A: The Foo Fighters were like "I don't know what it is that you do, but you sure are good at it!" I think that's a pretty good sign.

B: Shawny was like "these guys are cool, but what are they doing?"

A: What did you guys think of that tour?

Joe: The Fighters tour was kind of silly for us to do.

B: All it ended up being was money to get us out of debt for our breaking down right before our tour started.

Joe: But we were going on that tour, don't say that's why we did it.

A: we went on that tour just to sort of see a wider range of people and have them see us. The cross-section that comes out to see the Foo Fighters probably isn't the best wide range of people to have.

Joe: I think that the people who were, when Shutter to Think were playing didn't have nay idea what was playing.

A: I was actually forced to spit at someone in Chicago because he was screaming at us.

Joe: That tour was pretty silly.

B: It was fun.

A: It was fun to pretend we were rock starts, but no one felt we were.

Joe: I didn't think it was very appropriate.

Now it's back to basics, playing shows for twenty people.

Joe: We'd love to play for more people.

A: Actually Quiet Riot was a good example, they hit the top and came back down. I think we actually do acquire several people who like us each time we tour. We don't tour enough for that momentum to build really quickly.

B: We always seem to come back in the hole, so it takes that much longer.

A: I'm always unemployed and homeless by the end of tour, of course I was before the tour even starting this time.

Joe: Man, I'm gonna start crying if you don't have a home.

A: Why? I've managed so far. Touring is hard without guarantee of not going into debt.

Well obviously, especially for independent bands, who just go out on a whim and not paying attention to the fact that they aren't going to make any money and just kind of hoping everything will work out.

A: We've never actually had anything to bring on tour, that's another problem with our record label. Our stuff always comes out while we're out.

Do you think many people like you guys in Seattle?

A: All of Joe's friends like us because they like Joe, I have no friends because I'm a dick to everybody. That cancels out most of his friends.

B: There are some people that really respect us allegedly that no one knows.

A: Smart Went Crazy we could tour with in a second, they're so into us. We played with them a month ago, I had broken my bass and had learned all my bass parts on the Juno and played keyboard horribly. I had played keyboard for three days, all they talked about was how rad we were and how we were the first real legit band they've played with in forever. How we were down to earth and doing our own thing and on and on. Then I talked to my friend Sara, who's in Providence, who saw them a month later a nd they were still talking about us. I thought they were rad, they go the whole Discord, PC lyric problem though.

How was recording different from previous times?

A: More time, the first time we recorded it seemed like we were trying to get the record done and we finished making the last song in the studio, we were completely rushed. It was a lot of pretty cool ideas that we sloped together to make songs fo r it, to get these ideas down for what ever posterity. This time we've had so long between that record and this one, we did an EP, but it was only one new song on it. We've been playing these songs for a really long time, so they're evolved on their own . Plus we had time to sit down and rerecord everything on four-track and listened to it and tried to figure out keyboards and add things and figure out transitions. So we went in a lot more well prepared, plus having more time and Phil Ek is a lot more adventures that the guy we recorded with last time.

Joe: Phil put a lot more effort into it and we probably paid more, but he seemed to like the band.

When I listened to the new record, it doesn't sound like too much that is out there right now, but on one song you had a special guest.

A: Jeremy Engnik sings on one song, that was basically written for him to sing.

Joe: Initially for him to play piano.

A: We talked about him using his voice as an instrument and not as much as using it to sing words.

Joe: Because he says nothing on that song.

A: He sings, but doesn't actually say anything.

Joe: He was in the studio for an hour.

He just kind of harmonized with the music?

Joe: He had listened to an idea of a tape a few times, not too much as far as we could tell. Then we went and picked him up, he lives by the studio, with his piano and we drove him and he listened to it and then he played a track a said do you wan t me to do something like this? So he did a piano line and then he repeated it and kept it, then he did the vocals. I can't remember what the actual lyrics are, they have a theme some what.

A: At the time he came in I was talking to him before hand and we were talking about vocalists and certain instrumental singing and he had just gotten into more Eastern and Indian music. People seemed to do much more tonal singing where as a non-prete ntious sound turns out that way. So he laid the piano part down then eased his voice through to what was going on, if you listen to it you definitely hear he vocally follows the piano. I think quite impressively and other than how distinctive his voice is, it completely escapes and you hear the voice and know it's him. I think he's perfect choice for someone to use a voice as an instrument. If you listen to what's going on besides the voice and piano it's just us setting off a tone that's pretty much one chord with enough echo centered to spread out, but it was definitely left open for him. Hopefully it doesn't sound like Sunny Day Real Estate or Jeremy Engnik songs.

Brian, you had envisioned this whole Jeremy thing before hand right?

B: I had envisioned this idea of a song with Jeremy singing and playing piano on it, so we kind of just made that up in the studio. I really wanted to come up with a good name for it and I couldn't think anything. Then I had a dream one night, du ring that dream I was trying to figure out, for some reason how to make animals talk. Some one told me that if you take the most beautiful thing that you could find and crossed it with the sound that the animal makes, that you could make the animal talk. I found the most beautiful animal in the world, which was called Ludwo and crossed it with the sound that a chicken makes, which is "cluck" I guess. So I came up with Luchuck, I guess Ludwo would have been the second choice, I think I kinda wanted to k eep Ludwo.

Joe: The kids probably like Lungchuck better.

B: That's true, I guess.

A: How are the kids going to define the difference between Ludwo and Luchuck?

Joe: Kids have intentions sometimes.

A: That's the problem with them, some one should shut the kids up. I was just kidding, don't print that!

Joe: I just want to make enough money to slap some hoes and buy some gold.

Did you guys walk away from the studio feeling as if you really accomplished something with the band that you can think back to?

B: I thought it was the best we could do, we had a lot more fun in the studio like we made up Luchuck pretty much five days before we came to the studio. We kind of perfected it one night really late, we basically fell asleep playing it. It got r eally hypnotic, that was really fun. Joe: We kept the first take too, it was the best.

A: Out of both the full-lengths we've done, I actually like the first one. Just kind of conceptually, but it was definitely not a CD that I would listen to I don't think. If I wasn't in the band, I probably wouldn't listen to this one, which is impre ssive since I have real archaic music tastes ever.

B: I also thing that recording with Bill was a lot more peaceful, he almost would make fun of me when I would want to put too many things into a song, I forgot a few things on this record, but more so on the first, but I felt more comfortable with it. The songs sounded better naked, pretty dry compared to the first record, the recording I wasn't too super happy with. I just kept thinking if I just piled more crap on it, it just might sound better. On this one I thought the songs would go over good p retty cut and dry basically. I figured it would give the audience a little more of a chance of liking it maybe because the first album definitely didn't go over very well.

Joe: It wasn't John or anything who recorded it, it was just bad timing for both of us/each side. That was the first time that some one else had anything to do with our music besides us.

B: He did a little direction and more of the producing role. That kind of made me feel more secure, it was just easier to relax. That first record got reviewed in Option and they said it was like thrash-metal or something, I can't remember.

A: Heavy metal with out the sense of humor or the sexy lyrics.

B: The people recording it just didn't quite see eye to eye I guess. This one had a little bit more of a pop sensibility.



©2004 Skyscraper Magazine.
All material is the property of Skyscraper Magazine and may not be reprinted, copied, or redistributed without the expressed written consent of the editors.
Site by: Joshua R. Jones