Wednesday, October 1, 2014
INTERVIEW WITH TUNABUNNY
I love your latest record Kingdom Technology. In my opinion, it’s a primal
garage scream of electronica, erotica, and neurotic impulse. What impact
did you seek with the compositions and accompanying album artwork?
Our friends Chris Nelms and Jason Matherly did the artwork, and aside from
thinking they’re wildly talented we’re big fans of each other’s work so it
seemed natural to ask them to do the cover. We don’t necessarily make
music to have an impact—if anything, we have an impact because we make
music. But if we could control the results of our intended impact, we’d
all have swimming pools shaped like palm trees.
You have referred to pop/rock as a “played-out corpse” with Jack White
being the best example of a derivative formula based musician. Do you
feel that the inclusion of ear pleasing melody and harmonizing throughout
your own compositions resembles pop/rock in anyway?
We think our compositions resemble pop/rock in every way. But you know,
all our pop friends think we’re hopeless weirdos, and all our avant-garde
friends think we’re rock stars. Which is probably the best place to be.
You have addressed modern music as “over privileged boys and girls
looking to manufacture an identity…” I personally think there are many
unaddressed personality disorders clogging the creative air of unique
artists and musicians. Why do music listeners pay so much attention and
money to generic retreads of the past?
Because they’re generic retreads of the present? More likely they’re just
responding to a conservative music press/music industry. With so much
music being made these days, it requires a lot of determination to sift
through it on your own, and as a result people are dependent on
websites/critics/etc. to recommend stuff to them. If that stuff is
backwards-looking and easily digestible, it’s more the fault of the music
press/industry than the music listener.
What is the typical reaction to Tunabunny that you encounter the most?
Confusion and/or adulation. Also, an increase in the use of thesauruses.
Do you think music in general should always be undefinable or
unpredictable? Does it benefit the band or the listener more?
We don’t think there’s that much of a split between band & listener. We
were (and are) music fans before we were musicians. And as listeners,
yeah, we tend to get excited by music that sounds different than what
we’re used to (recent examples of this would be Bastards of Fate, Blanche
Blanche Blanche, and Micachu) than something that sounds like, say, The
Stone Roses (though we all unabashedly love their 1st album). But should
it always be undefinable or unpredictable? Not if you want a bigger
swimming pool, apparently. But it’s good to keep in mind that owning a
swimming pool increases your risk of skin cancer.
How did dumpster diving through the kingdom’s technology (recording equipment) affect the way the songs evolved or devolved throughout the recording process?
During recording we’d hear the songs played back and marvel at how pro
they sounded (like The Go-Go’s or something), but a lot of critics have
written about the $3000 piece of equipment as if that means we recorded it with lower quality equipment, which may say a lot more about the class
background of your average music writer or expectations surrounding the
cost of making music/recording than it does about our album. Having said
all that, we enjoyed going back and trying to warp the resulting clean
recordings, more so than those that were recorded with a $25 microphone on
reel-to-reel (which is already kind of distorted/phased by its very
nature). So yeah, we had a lot of fun with our new toy. And as we’ve
already started working on the next record (a double album scheduled for
summer/fall 2015), we’re having even more fun with it.
In your individual experiences growing up, did Top 40 music have a
bigger impact than avant-garde or underground music?
Of course it did. Our parents didn’t play Stockhausen around the house.
Having said that, top 40 was/is great training for the ears to respond to
avant-garde music. This idea doesn’t originate with us, but the line
between Missy Elliott and Steve Reich—or Britney Spears and Pere Ubu—is a
thin one, and is easily traversed. I think our listening habits tend to
ping-pong back and forth between melody and dissonance and that’s
reflected in our music.
If you had to cover an entire album of either the Carpenters or ABBA,
which one would you pick and why?
Carpenter is the queen of suburban soul, the Nina Simone of the overclass,
but Abba would be more fun because they’ve got more better songs and they
know how to bring the hooks.
Do you think that the current American climate of low paying jobs,
unemployment, and overreliance on technology is a blessing or curse for
the modern artist?
Anytime people can’t afford to make a living that’s bad, and we would
trade any artistic benefits from the current gilded age we live in if it
meant the average US worker could get paid a living wage. But politics
aside, you would think that this newfound access to vast catalogs of
music, whole entire genres that would’ve set you back hundreds and
hundreds of dollars 15 years ago, would have resulted in music that was
super-eclectic, bravely transversing boundaries and blowing people's minds. In a commercial sense, that hasn’t been the case (this is as true
of the underground as much of the mainstream), and that’s probably because of the financial hemorrhaging the music business is going through.
A mood of barely concealed fear runs through the music industry, and when people
are afraid they tend to play it safe, and that’s probably most music you
hear is the sound of someone hedging their bets, and most music writing is
the sound of someone interlocking their fingers in prayer. Which is a damn
shame because there’s lots of cool, passionate interesting music out there
being made. You just have to dig a little bit harder to find it.
Guess that’s it. Thanks for the interesting questions, Kevin. Keep fighting the good fight.
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