Published Sep 04, 2008Hamilton Jordan is holed up in an upstate New York cottage, rehearsing with keyboardist Michael Sochynsky and keyboardist/vocalist Mookie Singerman for an upcoming mini-tour with the Faint and Jaguar Love before crossing the border for the Exclaim! Aggressive Tendencies tour in September. The band, who made their mark with 2005s genre-fucking Cloak of Love, currently have their hands full with an upcoming remix series, which sees their most recent full-length, Board up the House (Relapse), cut up at the hands of 20 different artists and spread over five twelve-inches, released by five different record labels. So, yeah, theyre busy.
Do you go up there to rehearse before every tour?
Hamilton: If it hasnt been a while, yeah. We havent toured in six weeks, so we need to practice. But if its only been a week or two, we usually go out cold. But if we need to, we come up here and work the rust out.
Sounds like a nice way to prepare.
Yeah, its nice. Were thinking about writing our next record up here or something. Well see.
It seems a setting like that natural, rustic is at odds with the kind of music youre making. You know: "Its nature. Here are some programmed blast beats.
Yeah, our music is, in that sense, incredibly not natural. Its weird because thats the kind of music we make but thats not necessarily the music we listen to. We all live in urban environments but we love getting out here. The older we get, the more and more hippie-ish we become. Our next record is probably going to be all bongos and acoustic guitar and shit.
Besides being huge hippies, what are you listening to that influences what youre making that might not be obvious?
Were really affected by what were inspired by year to year. And then there are things that are always there. Ive probably ripped off Philip Glass more than I have anyone else. Coil are a big influence on all of us. And 80s pop even if its not the way they write melodies, its the way the rhythms work and the way they put their songs together. Ever since I was young, Ive been really into those 20th century minimalist composers like Terry Riley, Steve Reich and Philip Glass. I think that has affected the way I think about music and rhythm and melody more than anything else. And we all like Nine Inch Nails and Skinny Puppy and the stuff that people would expect.
Bands tend to talk a lot about the evolution their songs go through live. You guys being somewhat confined in a live setting by pre-programmed elements, Im wondering if there are ways you find to branch out live or change things.
What we do is pretty restrictive. That is one of the more frustrating elements about how this band operate. Not having a drummer and programming all our own beats is as liberating as it is confining. Thats not something we struggle with because were used to it but were constantly challenging ourselves to not settle into any patterns. The stuff weve been coming up with for our next record is going to be more different from our last record than any of our previous records have been from one another, if that makes any sense. And thats one of the things: those live elements. We write a song and we record it and once thats done its basically set in stone. I mean, it doesnt have to be. If we really want to go back and re-program stuff and change it we can but once weve made a decision and stuck with it, its way more difficult for us to change it than a band with four guys who are all playing together. But with our next album, it wouldnt surprise me if the performance element of our songs was a lot more live and less programming-oriented. Its not like were going to get a drummer but maybe well play the parts on drums pads. Were constantly self-aware and trying to be really critical of our process. We really want to feel like were performing live to the fullest extent.
Are there songs youve revisited and re-programmed for the purposes of the live show?
Yeah, there are some songs weve cut short because we dont like the endings anymore. And well write little interludes to link songs together to make songs that otherwise have nothing to do with each other sound like a fluid piece. Its not like when you see a Genghis Tron live show its nothing but us mindlessly replicating our records. We try to add a different spin to things and thats something I hope to do more of in the future.
This kind of ties in to the remix project you guys have undertaken recently. I imagine thats an interesting method of exploring the boundaries of your songs in ways that a traditional four-piece rock band cant. Whats that process been like for you guys?
Its been awesome. The whole thing, in general, has been a really eye-opening experience. More than anything its been flattering to contact musicians we admire who, more often than not, are for some reason interested in working with us. Weve been talking about this project for years but its only now, after putting out a record where we felt strongly enough about the material, that we really wanted to go through with it. We sent out all these emails to people. We had a dream list of artists we wanted to remix our songs and we were shocked at the response. Id say 80 percent agreed to participate, and we expected less than half, which is why it went from being one or two twelve-inches to five. We had verbal agreements from all these great artists and we didnt want to back out on anyone. Some of the remixes sound exactly like youd expect and some sound nothing like youd expect. One thing Im proud of is that band remixes often play up only one aspect of that bands sound. Theyre usually done by DJs and its usually a dance or an ambient remix. But weve been able to work with guys like Scott Hull from Pig Destroyer and Rob Crow from Pinback. Theyre artists we admire and theyre the last people youd think of to do a remix. Its taken it beyond the bounds or what youd usually expect. Its something were really stoked has come together. We cant really believe it. Weve managed to successfully manage the cooperation of five different labels, 20 different artists, and everyone has gotten along and its worked out.
Its pretty epic.
Yeah, its insane. Our album is 45 minutes. We only have about two-thirds of the remixes in at this point and we already have 90 minutes of material. We have twice as much remix material as there was music on the actual album. I dont know how many people will buy all five but its something that, musically, we stand by. The artists have made choices I wish we had made. Its been really cool. Its also kind of a ridiculous vanity project. I hope people who like our music are half as interested in it as we are.
On a totally different track, you guys are headed out for four dates with the Faint and Jaguar Love. And after that youve got the Exclaim! Aggressive Tendencies Tour. Being in a band with some melodic parts and some really heavy parts, do you find that going on tour with a band like the Faint makes you at all nervous about being way more aggressive than other bands and how crowds will respond to that?
Im excited about it. I wouldnt say Im nervous. Its a much less intimidating position to be the heaviest band on a not-so-heavy show than by far the least heavy band on a very, very heavy show. And thats how its usually been with us. We very rarely get to play with bands like the Faint, who I think we have some stuff in common with, if only because we both have some keyboard parts and were both influenced by Depeche Mode on some level. But for the most part, we stick out on the shows we play like a sore thumb, but its mostly with bands like Converge or Pig Destroyer. The first time we played with Napalm Death, I was convinced I was going to get a bottle thrown in my face. I cant say Im too nervous about not going over well with the 15-year-old girls who are there to see the Faint and Jaguar Love but mostly Im just excited to do something different. We generally just play with very heavy bands, which is fine, but I enjoy playing diverse shows. All three of us are looking forward to playing with a band as poppy as the Faint. Im sure it will be interesting and thats enough to get me excited.
How about the Baroness tour? You guys have toured together before, right?
We did a full U.S. tour with Baroness, Converge and the Red Chord. It was cool because it was all heavy bands but everyone was really different and no one was the odd band out. Im excited about that because musically, at least on a literal level, we dont have a lot in common with Baroness but were big fans of them and theyre fans of us. We get along really well; theyre great guys. Our bands may not sound alike but we expect a lot of crossover from people going to those shows. Those are the sorts of tours I really like. The bands are different and it works. The Exclaim! Tour is great because its a lot of different-sounding acts that fans of interesting-sounding heavy music will hopefully appreciate on some level. And weve never really done an extensive Canadian tour before. Weve done all the big cities a few times but weve never been in the country for more than four or five days at a time. It will be really cool to go across a lot of the provinces and see it on a more extensive level. Plus, were supporting a band we really like, and they were just up in Canada with Coheed and Cambria and they had a great time. Were looking forward to seeing the country.