Monday, April 22, 2013

New Interview: Getting Cynical With Black on Black ("You can't hear shit at our shows anyway.").

Black on Black have a new EP called Let's Get Cynical, but there's no cynicism involved in this Friday's EP release show at the Replay: they genuinely want to rock your faces clean off!  And with help from LFK's legendarily loud Muscle Worship, along with Many Moods of Dad, they should easily fulfill this goal.

We chatted with Black on Black's Wade this weekend about the "helter-skelter" local scene, the pros and cons of social media, and how the band's super-short songs make us want to jump around and smash into things, which we'll be doing on Friday (look out).

Follow them on Twitter @BLKBLKBLKBLK  (they are excellent tweeters!) and give them a "like" on FB here.

Enjoy the interview!

Chip:  “Let’s Get Cynical” is a great title and a pretty good summation of much of the local scene.  Tell us where the title comes from and offer us your assessment of the local scene, perhaps mentioning the recent shitty experience you had while trying to play a Bottleneck show that got booked at the same time as an early KU tournament game. 

Wade:  Well, the title is overtly just a play on the Olivia Newton John disco tune "Let's Get Physical", but it came to me when I was putting together the album art for the E.P.s. Both the covers are real bummers and I wanted to name the albums so that the title went with the art. I'm also a word nerd so I like playing with language when I can. [Our 2012 record] Help Yourself could mean Help Yourself…to some pie (or our albums for free), or it could mean Help Yourself…because nobody else will.  [Listen via Bandcamp here] The title Let's Get Cynical worked for me too because life's bullshit just never stops and there's always something else shitty around the corner, so why not just put on your sweatbands and reeboks and spandex and sweat it out. What else is there to do?

As far as my assessment of the scene goes, I have an evolving theory. It starts with the premise that I don't really know if there is a "scene" anymore. I always felt like scenes had something about them that was unique to their city or region and I just don't really feel that. Lawrence is definitely a music city and is full of talented people doing good things, but I'm not sure our bands aren't interchangeable with any of the other cities in the Midwest. The internet made the world tiny, and music scenes are influenced as quickly as fashion is at this point. Bands are like memes. I'm not saying that I don't like our bands or that they aren't original. There are a bunch of local bands that I absolutely love and try to see play whenever I can. I'm just saying I don't think there is a flavor; no thread that holds us all together. In a way, when I started thinking about Lawrence like that, it was freeing. I just stopped thinking about where I fit in as a musician almost overnight. Black on Black is an expression of that idea. We don't really feel like we belong here, but we want to be here. Without that cognitive dissonance we probably would never have started this band. A helter skelter scene suits us just fine.

Oh, and yes, it's Black on Black vs. sports.

[This just in:  Black on Black's KJHK in-studio session scheduled for tomorrow has been postponed due to coverage of KU baseball.  Seriously.]

 Black Geometry cover art

Richard:  I really like the album-opening “Black Geometry,”  especially the howling, drawn-out delivery of the line “I don’t need you!"  It sounds like it’s tailor-made for a fist-pumping singalong.  Tell us what that song’s all about and does the audience sing along on that line or do they just stand there like chumps?

Wade:  "Black Geometry" is just a break-up song. It's about when a relationship reaches that point of no return and it becomes almost mathematic in predicting when it's going to end. The skeleton is cracked, the frame is bending and creaking, and the whole structure just takes on this twisted black geometry. It's over. Time to stand back and watch it burn. We do get the occasional fist pumps…or middle finger, but nobody sings along so far. That song is on the new record so I think our fans are just now reading the lyrics. You can't hear shit at our shows anyway.

[Listen to "Black Geometry" here via Bandcamp]

Chip:   Three of the songs on “Let’s Get Cynical” barely exceed the two-minute mark, which I like, because my attention span is short as fuck. [Chip crosses to window and stares briefly at a squirrel].  At the same time, your music makes me want to jump around and smash into people, and I sometimes feel silly when I’m in prime smashing-mode and the song just ends.  So can you promise me that this Replay show will not feature long pauses between songs so I can just keep right on smashing around?

Wade:  Yeah, we just hit and quit it. It's what we do. No fluff, no filler. There's nothing that we need to say in this band that we can't say in a few minutes. Our longest songs are still shorter than most pop songs, and sometimes I think we just wrote those to give us a little breather in the set. The pace of this band is purposely frenetic, so the songs have to be short. I also don't really do stage banter either, so yeah, you can keep smashing.

Richard:  The album closer, “Dig Your Own Grave,” has a decidedly different feel from most of the other songs, not to mention a sturdy run-time of over four minutes.  Tell us about the song and why it’s a fitting, somber end to the record.

Wade:  We have two slower tempo songs, "Dig Your Own Grave" and "Crease Then Fold". We decided to split them up and close both E.P.s with slower songs. There wasn't any more thought put into it than that. It was just about sequencing. You can't open with a bummer and you can't stick it in the middle of the record because it bogs everything down. The song itself is a paraphrase of my life mantra which is "Let only what you love tear you apart." It's what I tell myself every day. If I'm going to get old and fall apart and die anyway I might as well spend as much time as I possibly can doing what I love…even at the expense of my own body. That's the grave I'm digging. If I dig it, I get to fill it with whatever I want, and make sure it's just the right size.

Chip:  I’m a big fan of you guys on Twitter, particularly the recent list of “unfollow” messages in which you explained why you were parting ways with some of the accounts you follow.  Can you share some of your observations about the positive and negative ways that bands tend to use Twitter.  And tell us about your own approach.  Personally, I find Twitter appealing because it’s a useful method of conveying boner jokes.

Wade:  Yes, your boner jokes are Grade A and world-renowned. I don't know, I mean I'm not the Twitter police by any means. People and bands can use it any way they want. I just know there are certain things that just piss me off or bum me out and I gotta cut the cord. First of all I try really hard not to unfollow people that follow us. That's just a dick move…but I have done it…because I'm a dick…but also because I don't want to read tweets as texts. Like, why the fuck am I reading a conversation between you and your girlfriend/boyfriend about how sexually frustrated you are? Seriously. Who gives a shit about what you are eating right now or where you are shopping? I don't understand it. I basically gravitate toward bands and people on Twitter that are doing interesting things or thinking interesting things and are trying to involve their friends and fans in a personal way. Like, I don't want to read, "I'm watching Scarface" but I might want to read, "If Tony Montana fills a pillowcase with coke and gives it to you with a horse-skin blanket as a birthday present, what do you write in his thank you note?" See the subtle difference there? If you want an instant unfollow it's pretty simple: say something racist, sexist, homophobic, or narcissistic, retweet twenty times for every one original tweet, or worst of all, beg for my money with one of those crowd-sourcing sites like Kickstarter or Pledgemusic. No, I'm not giving you any of my goddamned money because you want to "go on the tour of a lifetime" or make a record on the promise that it will be "amazing."  Fuck off.  Anyway, my unfollow tirades are just me blowing off steam. Sometimes I refollow people after a while to see if they managed to press the ejection seat button on their rocket to Boringville.

Richard:  Leave our lazy readers with a short blurb that will convince them they REALLY need to make it out to the album release show at the Replay.

Wade:  Hmmm. We have cheap t-shirts, cheap records, free stickers, and we're playing with a couple of great bands. I don't know, I'm not very good at selling our band. How about this: You might die soon. Make sure your ears are ringing when you do. Good?

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