by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
So the move is over, my interweb is running and I’m back.
Briefly catching up on a few things: I had heard nary a note of White Lung prior to Tuesday night’s show at Slowdown Jr. The band had that very day driven from Winnipeg to make the show — a questionable tour schedule to say the least — but you wouldn’t have known it by the metal-infused punk they laid down during their relatively short set. Impressive power behind lead vocalist Mish Way — huge rhythm section, intricate layered guitar that bordered on dark metal. Nice stuff indeed.
Opening band Digital Leather did their usual superb set, though they sounded more restrained than when they play their home field of O’Leaver’s, which is understandable. I still don’t know the future of this line-up, which includes Todd Fink of The Faint. Will Todd record with DL? Time will tell. It’s good to hear those synth parts on these songs again, and Fink fits right in with the band’s overall style.
On hand, about 100 people. Not bad.
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Touch People a.k.a. Darren Keen celebrates the release of his new album, Brain Massage, at The Waiting Room Saturday night with openers m34n str33t, Killer Blow and the inimitable Solid Goldberg. Leading up to the show, I asked Darren a few questions about his new project (which you can check out here) and new direction. This is what he had to say:
I still don’t understand why you pulled the plug on TSITR. Is it because you no longer want to play that music or no longer have to react when people ask you to play that music? Now you can say ‘TSITR is dead. I’m Touch People’ and can shut them up, but you’re still Darren Keen and it’s still your music.
I pulled the plug on TSITR for a lot of reasons, but the easiest way to sum it up is…I had lost all of my momentum, and I was going to have to start all over making all new fans anyway, and I just wasn’t interested in doing that again with TSITR. A lot of TSITR’s energy was tied up in this false “I’m the best” pride, and having to once again go through the process of trying to appeal to a bunch of college kids makes me feel the exact opposite. I was faced with dragging a comedy hip-hop project back through the trenches, which would suck, where as, with Touch People, it’s a more real, honest, musical endeavor, so I don’t mind doing it.
It’s hard to explain. I guess I just didn’t feel like moving backwards with TSITR after 10 years of kicking ass.
Did you start Touch People to provide a clear line of demarcation in terms of your musical style? Why couldn’t you simply do this kind of music as TSITR?
I never make music to “provide” anything for the audience. I started Touch People because I was interested in studying minimalism, and I was really itching to start thinking more like a “composer” and less like a “rapper”.
What freedom does Touch People provide you as an artist?
As an artist, and as a human, I am free to do or say anything I want. The band doesn’t really provide me with any additional freedoms, except sometimes I get to shout into vocoders in front of large groups of people.
Explain the process of making Brain Massage. How would you describe the style of music? What does it mean?
Brain Massage was awesome to make. It was literally the only album I’ve ever made, where I thought about the sound and process before hand, and everything went just as I planned from creation to studio to mastering to live show.
I would describe it as minimalist composer influenced electronic music. I tell people that it has a lot of really fast notes, and odd time signatures. I use four guitar amps, a bass amp, and two vocoders, all controlled by an Akai Apc 40 and Ableton Live.
Brain Massage is lyrically not very diverse…most of the songs are about the human brain, and about feeding your brain with knowledge. The anti-intellectualism movement in America is disgusting to me, and when I hear someone talking about “biblical truth” or “intelligent design” I just want to puke my fucking guts out and stuff their mouth full of my pubic hair. People need to wake up, we aren’t dumb, illiterate cro mags wondering around the desert anymore. Science is not a conspiracy, teachers aren’t poisoning your children’s minds. We live in a real, scientific world, and that tribal mumbo jumbo is a dead scene.
What role did/does drugs/grass play in creating your music?
I have really cut back on my drug use, and either way, I never compose while on drugs, unless you consider weed a drug. I am always stoned. I don’t think it has anything to do with my process though. My talents and creativity are my own.
Are you satisfied or bitter about your career? Has it turned out as you expected or hoped?
I’m neither. I’m not bitter, although, when I was in TSITR I sometimes was. It has more or less turned out as I expected, but I HAD hoped that I would have gone further by now. I would love to be able to quit my jobs and just focus on my craft, but that’s just not a reality for me right now. Sometimes I see some of these bands that are packing out shows locally, and I realize that I have nothing in common with them. The things they think are “cool,” I think are lame, and visa versa. It’s not a right / wrong thing, it’s just a very deep divide in how we handle our bands and our business.
Please be careful not to take me out of context here, I do not want to be thought of as “shit talking” but for example, take Icky Blossoms or Universe Contest…both bands full of my friends. They are very good at what they do, which is making very fun, wild music that makes kids want to dance and make out. Its not “selling out” when they do it, because they are honestly into that sort of art / presence and that’s why they are so successful. If I were to do what they do, it would be terrible and I would be a poseur, because to me, music ISN’T this surface level, fun party time thing. Music is the ultimate healer, music is the way that I communicate myself the most clearly, and my whole life is wrapped up in it, thus my whole life is sort of my true art. I guess it’s another reason I quit TSITR…it just didn’t go deep enough for me. Does that make sense? Again, those bands are fine, and I don’t think of them as “selling out” (although they do sell out most of their shows), I feel like I personally WOULD be selling out by doing that, and like I said the first time when you interviewed me, I want to have my own path, where my success is my own.
What are your plans for getting Brain Massage heard? What are your hopes for this recording?
I am releasing the album March 29. I am playing that night in Lincoln at the Bourbon, and playing a release show in Omaha on April 6 at The Waiting Room. It’ll be up on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. I am just going to start touring a ton like I did with TSITR, and try to get out there at a very grassroots, local level. That’s all I know how to do. I’d love to find a label that was interested in my art, but I don’t really care or need that in my life at this point.
My hopes for this recording is that people will give it a listen, and that they will be inspired by it somehow.
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So that’s one hot show for the weekend.
Another is tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s, where Saddle Creek band PUJOL will make its first-ever stage appearance in Omaha (unless one of their gigs slipped under my radar). Openers are local band The Seen. This one if just $5 and will very likely be a capacity show, so get there early. Starts at 9:30.
Finally tonight is Lincoln band Kill County’s album release show at The Sydney, brought to you by Hear Nebraska. Outlaw Con Bandana opens along with Electric Chamber Music (ex-Gus & Call). $5, 9 p.m. More info here.
Tomorrow night is the aforementioned Touch People show at TWR.
Also tomorrow night (Saturday) Water Liars play at O’Leaver’s with Twinsmith and Field Club. $5, 9:30 p.m.
That’s all for now…
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Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at Lazy-i.com — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.