Operators’ Dan Boeckner. Photo by Liam Maloney.
by Tim McMahan, Lazy-i.com
Don’t overthink Operators, the band playing Wednesday night at Reverb Lounge. Their glowing synth music is pure dance rock that recalls all the usual suspects: Depeche Mode, New Order, Psychedelic Furs, Oingo Boingo, Future Islands, Friendly Fires, Big Black Delta, you get the drift. This is full-on strut rock at its finest
Operators is helmed by Dan Boeckner, who you might remember from Wolf Parade, Handsome Furs and Divine Fits. His new trio includes drummer Sam Brown (New Bomb Turks, Divine Fits) and synthmaster Devojka, who (along with Boeckner) provides all those glowing dance tones. Those looking for local comparisons, Boeckner’s vocals have always reminded me of Eli Mardock’s (or Mardock’s reminded me of Boeckner’s), while the music has the same acid-buzz that Icky Blossoms’ fans will recognize (and love).
When it came time to make their debut full length, Blue Wave (out this Friday on Last Gang Records), the band brought in the big guns in the form of producer Graham Walsh, who’s worked with METZ, Alvvays and Viet Cong, among others. The record is an uplifting rock album that as a whole recalls classic ’80s good-time new wave dance music as embraceable as your favorite John Hughes movie.
We asked Boeckner to do our Ten Questions, and he responded with gusto.
1. What is your favorite album?
Dan Boeckner: Right now it’s:
Sister – Sonic Youth
New Plastic Ideas – Unwound
Roots Manuva – Brand New Second Hand
London Zoo – The Bug
Laurel Halo – Quarantine
Not Waving – Animals
The Body – No One Deserves Happiness
2. What is your least favorite song?
Right now they’re:
“When I’m 64” – The Beatles. Awful. Just awful.
“Blood On The Leaves” – Kanye. Kanye takes one of the most brutally effective, devastating, righteous political songs ever written (Strange Fruit)…and turns in into an allegory for not wanting to pay alimony. And something about courtside seats.
“Sexy Mexican Maid” – Red Hot Chili Peppers. Weapons grade bad. The ’90s were a time where you could spot weld casual racism to ham-fisted tuneless funk metal and be applauded for it. Here, look: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEf_Wfqou3I
3. What do you enjoy most about being in a band?
Playing shows and the ability to travel. Playing shows because, it’s a transcendent experience. I’m not a spiritual guy but…being onstage and playing music, transmitting something to an audience, having that catharsis…that’s a blessing. It’s a lucky thing to get to do. Travel because I grew up in a tiny, rural town in Canada in a low income family and had no real prospects for getting to see the world. I could read about it and look at it but it was unavailable to me.
4. What do you hate about being in a band?
Any time I feel like being in a band is a burden I think about playing shows, the fact that I get to travel and the fact I’m not telemarketing or working demolition or being a line cook and those feelings just…melt away.
5. What is your favorite substance (legal or illegal)?
6. What city or town do you love performing at?
7. What city or town did you have your worst gig (and why)?
Probably Kaunas, Lithuania. I played a Russian owned mafia club. Halfway through the set, the security tasered a guy for dancing and threw him down a flight of stairs. After the set was over, the promoter leapt onstage and gave a 5 minute speech in Russian and Lithuanian, the main theme being: the band would play his favorite song. We did not know how to play his favorite song. He like…kind of sprung that on us. So: he kept us onstage and encouraged us to MIME that song while the mobbed up club “investors” got drunker and angrier. Later in the evening he got apocalyptically wasted in my hotel room and told me how when he was in the Soviet Navy he almost died in a nuclear submarine accident.
9. What one profession other than music would you like to attempt; what one profession would you absolutely hate to do?
If I wasn’t doing this, I’d probably be doing journalism or working for a foreign intelligence agency. Hate to do: my old job working for a pharmaceutical company.
10. What are the stories you’ve heard about Omaha, Nebraska?
The one about radioactive “Fukushima” bees.
The one about the salt witch.
The one about the creek named after the guy who was skinned alive for murder
The one about the devil worshipping sex cult that turned out to be about embezzlement
The one about how tackling Steven Malkmus of Pavement mid set at Slowdown while you’re wearing a “Tricerasquatch” (Sasquatch body-Triceratops head) costume will only make him pissy and not just laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation and then high five you like you thought it would.
Operators plays Wednesday, March 30, with opener Bogan Via at Reverb Lounge, 6121 Military Ave. Showtime is 9 p.m. Admission is $10 Adv./$12 DOS. For more information, visit onepercentproductions.com.
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Those Far Out Arrows at O’Leaver’s, March 26, 2016.
The mob couldn’t have been more crushing than Saturday night at O’Leaver’s for Those Far Out Arrows’ record release party. It was hard just to find a place to stand.
Despite the SRO pressure, the band reproduced all the subtle touches heard on their new record, right down to the whistle intro on “Fantasizing Lover.” The trio’s sound centers on the brothers Keelan-White — one on drums, the other on guitar. Evan seemed to have the leads most often (brother Ben was mostly on drums), while Jon Oschner provided the groovy bass. They unapologetically cross ’60s British psychedelic with Bowery proto-punk a la Velvet Underground.
I guess you could call it retro in as much as Burger Records garage rock is retro, though TFOAs feels more authentic and structured than most modern-day low-fi fuzz rock. The record is definitely worth finding (Almost Music is your best bet).
The trio’s gritty psych-rock was dulcet tones compared to the band that proceeded it. Dead Flower Preservation Club Band consisted of three or four musicians — I couldn’t see how many were on stage from my perch way in back of the club — that played loud, bleating waves of dense noise. Feedback, guitar, drums and synths created a cacophony of harsh sound that can only be described as a symphony of chaos.
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Yet another big show tonight at fabulous O’Leaver’s when Mamiffer comes to town. The duo of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner (Isis, Old Man Gloom, Hydra Head Industries) bring the heavy. Opening is Downtrod, Bus Gas and CBN. $7, 9 p.m.
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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 © 2016 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.