Published Jul 29, 2008Baltimore, MDs brash pack Ponytail came up through the music scene as art school students, who formed the band to fulfil a school project. Turned out that they were so awesome they had to keep it going. After coming out of nowhere with their 2006 debut, Kamehameha, the frenetic four-piece have made waves in their hometown of Wham City, which led to record deal with We Are Free (Yeasayer, Indian Jewelry). Jumping into the studio with producer extraordinaire J Robbins (Jawbox), Ponytail recently released their sophomore album, Ice Cream Spiritual, a fuller, more polished record that manages to sustain their unhinged noise spasms and surprisingly melodic riffage. Furiously fast drummer Jeremy Hyman sat down to answer some questions, though sadly skipped the one about their singer sounding like a dolphin...
Your bio from We Are Free states "it's a difficult thing to bottle music." I can imagine that was certainly the case when recording the album. Were you trying to capture the live nature of the band while recording Ice Cream Spiritual? How did you go about doing that considering your performances are so frantic?
Its all MIDI actually!
Speaking of your live shows, does the band or any fans ever get too carried away? Any cool stories you can share?
Things get knocked over occasionally, amps, drums, molly, ect... and pedals get stomped but nothing too crazy, or at least no one person has ever done us any harm. A lot of people have been taking all their clothes off recently.
I'll be honest, I haven't a clue as to what Molly is singing pretty much all of the time. Are lyrics secondary to the energy of Ponytail's music? And what does Molly think of being compared vocally to a dolphin?
Lyrics haven't been a priority, yet... but we are trying out some new ideas!
What made you decide to record with J. Robbins, a guy I still think of as the dude who wrote one of my favourite albums, Jawbox's For Your Own Special Sweetheart? How did he change the recording process for you?
J.'s work speaks for itself, he is such a talented musican and engineer. Working with him was like being a student, and it was amazing how quickly he adapted to our sometimes questionable ideas. I remember we would finish playing the song and run out of the room giggling and he would tell us he needed a few minutes alone, so we would play Tony Hawk or watch DVDs. I always imagined him banging his head on the table repeatedly after he shut the door.
What would you say are the biggest differences between Ice Cream Spiritual and Kamehameha?
Maybe control? Using the locks and canals instead of letting the flood gates open.
I remember when Kamehameha came into our office. I was completely blown away by the packaging. Was that the band's creativity on display or was it Creative Capitalism?
The packaging was a collaboration between a few people... Peter (from CC) kind of gave us the challenge to do something non-traditional, which is what we had in mind anyway, but with his blessing we hired our friend Jennifer Bagheri to help us design. She came up with the triangles that fold, we gave her the imagery. I'm way proud that it happened.
What made you decide to go with a fledgling label like We Are Free for the new album?
Jason [Foster] and I grew up in the same part of Maryland and his accent is so disarming we couldn't say no! When I saw him trying to program an iPhone the other day I knew we made the right choice, he was very determined!
Do you find your art school background sometimes overshadows the music for what it's worth?
I don't think so, it's great to work parallel to fine art. We draw a lot of inspiration from our background and I think we are trying realize work that can exist happily in many contexts.
Baltimore's music scene is really picking up these days. Is that something you feel a part of, the whole Wham City thing? Do you feel it's helped the band so far?
Yeah, Baltimore is getting A LOT of press, and most of it is really positive, though not 100% accurate. I am grateful for it, it has helped us and alot of other bands that are amazing, but not interested in the music world, or the world in general.
What's up with your MySpace page? It makes me feel like I'm losing my mind. And did you know that ponytailband.com has expired?
The background for the MySpace page is a screen shot from my computer when we were writing our bio (which never got used) so I decided I could sneak it in somewhere. I learned from our friend Vishwam that a carefully curated screenshot is important : ) Ponytailband will be back!
You're playing a bunch of Canadian dates with Don Caballero. Were they an influence on the band at all?
It's strange that I actually have never heard a Don Cab song all the way through. For me they are one of those bands that I missed out on due to a weird punk/Metallica thing that I had going on when I was in high school. I felt the same way in the beginning of our tour with Battles, but I quickly came to appreciate it, and then love it.
Catch Ponytail on tour in Canada with Don Cab this month at the following dates:
8/25 Montreal QC, Club Lambi 8/26 Toronto ON, Lee's Palace 8/27 Hamilton ON, Casbah 8/28 London ON, Call the Office