Friday, November 6, 2009
Interview - A Faulty Chromosome
I first came across A Faulty Chromosome pretty randomly; a friend of a friend sends a link to a myspace, and when I finally took some time with it I couldn't get it out of my head. What immediately struck me was the dense packing of intimate recorded sounds. The layers of multiple takes of vocals, the homemade hours of experimentation. On tracks like 'Them pleasures of the Flesh' where brief bursts of individual guitar melodies are hard faded back and forth on opposite channels, I have to pay close attention to the dizzying arrangement. The fact the vocals are often times layered, slightly whispered, breathy... you have to really lean in and catch them, or at least turn the entire arrangement up to try to decipher it. But I don't think it's so much about the precise words. It's creating a feeling, like the best stuff I'm drawn to, the atmospherics. Creating a sheer wall of melody and then picking away pieces, creating through a kind of pop reduction. The sheer number of sounds that fade in and out, toy synth, telephones, old drum machines, xylophones, samples of kids... I get caught up in this insane haze of sounds that he creates all while coming up with great catchy pop. He's the kind of composer that can obviously play anything put in front of him, embracing the mistakes, keeping that beautiful bent guitar off note.
On his first album 'As An E-Anorexic's Six Sicks Exit' with Jackie O, right away he creates this ringing rhythm over a manic cheap drum machine snare sounding pretty upbeat, and then the vocals in an echoed low register, with a sort of Gang of Four indifference, just coming in over the ever increasing complexity of sounds. Lyrically, he keeps delivering these completely amazing lines why are you wearing glasses / so you can't see / what the future might bring That's the greatest sentiment ever associated with the JFK assassination. The whole album carries that slightly sadly beautiful tragedy feel. I can't imagine how these are interpreted live, but I would love to find out.
In the tradition of doing something a little different for Friday's post on 7Inches, I had to try to get in contact with Eric from A Faulty Chromosome and ask about this album. I imagined I'd convince him to press a seven inch. Unfortunately I don't have the cash to jump into that scenario right now, but go listen my wish single: Jackie O on the A-Side and 'Bad Thing' on the B-Side on his myspace. ('Them pleasures of the flesh' would have to be it's own, it's definitely an A-Side...the B would have to be a demo version of an album track, that one is so great...the main guitar melody, with that back and forth single distorted note. So really we're talking about 2 singles. See every time I hear this I'm trying to figure out what I could live without to sell so I can fund this box set of singles in my mind, that's how strongly I feel about it, but I couldn't keep it to myself anymore.)
After finishing his latest 'Craving to be coddled so we feel fake-safe', he's currently raising money on Kickstarter to pay off recording costs, and he has some hilarious donation possibilities including, getting into every live show they ever play with a lifetime membership card, writing a song about anything you want, performing it live in your town, making a video for it, personally thanking you in the liner notes, or throwing you acoversong slumber party. I never wished I had $3000 more. Go support his work, I can't wait to hear this, and after that digital single you won't either.
Here's my ichat interview, minus sprawling tangets (double space), with Eric from A Faulty Chromosome:
7Inches: You're in the middle of mixing your new album?
AFC: today and every single day, yes.
7Inches: Are you from LA?
AFC: born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago
7Inches: How did you end up out there?
AFC: moved to LA after college when I had the bad idea that I should try my hand in writing
7Inches: I wonder how much geography has to do with sound.
AFC: I think geography has a lot to do with insanity. Like, upon moving to Austin, I could go an entire day without hearing a car honk or someone scream at a stranger... it helped remind me that there were still nice people alive on earth
7Inches: What I love about Faulty Chromosome is that you were just putting it out there to pay what you want, the audience will find you
AFC: it's... well, it's uncompromising, that's for sure. It's challenging myself not to be generic, it's scraping the barnacles off the inside of my skull and saying "here you go people" and it's hard because I'm making it really difficult for myself to succeed
AFC: but -- at the same time -- you get people saying "I crave hearing pleasures of the flesh like I crave rough sex" ... and I'm like ... "oh man, that song is about the exact opposite of what you just said... am i a total failure at what i'm trying to do here?" and people say "hey, you sound like clap your hands..."
and it feels really... i mean, i have to remind myself that these people don't have the same record collection i do, so they can't know, and i don't want to be rude...
i have a band sometimes.... i have people with varying degrees of mental problems who i have to coax into helping me play sometimes...it's 97% me thinking out loud hoping someone understand what i'm saying amidst the majority of those who look really confused. i make it hard on myself because... okay, so what kind of music am i making? pop music. indie pop. whatever..." twee" i mean, i loved everything on slumberland when i was in high school, but i don't relate to slumberland.. or pop.. or popfests...
7Inches: I just hear amazing experimentation with sound, layers and layers of all kinds of stuff, I keep hearing new things everytime I listen to it.....I wouldn't think twee at all, more like that tradition of 4-track sebadoh, early smog....especially Ariel Pink
AFC: gahh... i've played with ariel pink a few times... and i can't seem to talk to him, he looks at the ground and seems to always be on a lot of drugs
7Inches: this combination of influences, coming up with something completely new....that would be a perfect show, you and Ariel Pink...when did that happen?
AFC: (even though i lived in la for a few years, i couldn't get a show to save my life, as i had no cool friends to get my foot in the door, so didn't get to play with ariel pink until here in austin... everytime he tours, i bother the club to let us play...)
7Inches: It's obvious to me you have years of messing with sound behind you, for me that's what's important, experimentation...I'm reading this book about Brian Eno and he keeps talking about accidents and making them important. I hear a bunch of amazing accidents.
AFC: yeah! what's frustrating is finding someone who understands that embracing accidents makes everything better... my friend who is helping me record went to school for audio engineering, and every time i think of something "weird" he reverts to the textbook in his brain that clearly states "you should not do this." so it's challenging having to try to justify why it's okay..... man, i'd love to be able to work with brian eno one day (it's so confusing why u2 is so awful.. i mean, shouldn't eno force them to be better?). yeah, i guess that's what i'm trying to understand... a lot of music seems really insincere to me, and i don't know if i'm being a jerk and judging them, or if i'm just paying closer attention than most people, and i'm actually right.
7Inches: don't you think the internet, myspace, etc has kind of leveled the music field?
AFC: in our youth, we depended on the following for new music: older siblings / the library / zines... if i hadn't gotten the super bowl shuffle, or if i hadn't heard my friend's older brother's copy of the replacement's "stink," would I have become a consumer of top 40? this is what i wonder.
AFC: that's how i view the internet, i think.. it's assisting the lazy to be lazier.
7Inches: Ok, but if you couldn't afford to buy every zine or 7 inch at the record store you can go search online...but you can at least hear the music for yourself and make up your own mind.
AFC: You "could" make up your own mind, but we live in a shame-based culture, and I remember how I lost friends for not liking the same music when I was a kid
7Inches: I can't believe that...sure in some cases bands get popular because of hype, but great music is going to be appreciated...it's the business side of it that sucks. I have to say, I've played in bands in NY, and the booking, recording...all that shit sucked...I couldn't hack it for sure. I completely appreciate people that can.
AFC: i guess i just wish that i could live to see a day where people like that aren't a teenie tiny minority... i guess that's why i make music: in hopes that i find more people like that so we can remind each other. but that's always the trick, isn't it? talking to yourself to say "you're not the crazy one.... don't forget that! keep up the good work!"
7Inches:....but really what's the alternative? You're not going to give it up right? You have to do it.
AFC: I might take a vacation here and there to regain a sense of sanity.
AFC: so you like 7" , huh? I was always offended by them... they were too much money, it just seemed the opposite of "DIY"
7Inches: I completely disagree! When I had no money the only thing I could get was a $3 single and then at least hear something of what I was missing. No record co is going to put this out, then put up a couple hundred bucks and put it out yourself...punk was founded on that idea
AFC: i had two strikes against me growing up: 1) no money 2) my mom loves Jesus and wouldn't let me listen to music at all so no money made me only rely on stealing old cassettes, dubbing stuff from friends / the library... so a 7" was always just way too much for me (not to mention that i walkman was easier to hide than a record player)....
7Inches: Yea, I understand, i just saw the 7" as a way to hear new music I couldn't get anywhere else...it was the cheapest form of music
AFC: that makes sense...
7Inches: It's just another format that seems to still be viable for people that love music and want that object, and have to put everything down and seriously listen to something
AFC: it's just, the internet is free... i wonder if i shouldn't just give everything away? it's not like i "want" money so much as unfortunately need it...and people still buy 7"'s ? Everyone I know that has them do it more for "collector" reasons (which seems kind of creepy to me)
7Inches: Well sure, there is the collector aspect, like comic books and baseball cards, but it's also the only way to hear something new, before an album is done, if it ever does....to reach those people serious about music...I think it's a pretty important subgroup of people that by the nature of the format are into music, who would appreciate your stuff...and search out the full length....see the live show
AFC: (not that it ever ends; I'll be done mixing in a few weeks, then I have to mail hundreds of promos in hopes people like it....)
AFC: it would be a nice change, that's for sure... this album is an ALBUM... i mean, it could be one, giant song... so it'd be nice not to have to puzzle-piece together a bunch of little things in hopes that it makes sense next to each other
AFC: i don't know how this friend-of-a-friend heard the song, but there's still the uphill climb of trying to find the people that would appreciate it
7Inches: I know there is, I know nothing about the industry...I think by default 7"'s are are a world of people working outside that structure
at least that what it seems like talking to labels
AFC: well then, I really need to get on board the 7" choo-choo. labels don't respond to me, so I don't know. I sent out the first album to maybe 40 labels, not one reply.
AFC: so... it's things like that where I am forced to seriously consider the fact that I'm doing something wrong
7Inches: That sucks, but it doesn't mean anything....
AFC: it's contingent upon there being at least "some" people who like it...for every two people who say nice things, 85 give a look like I have a giant goiter on my forehead.
AFC: I guess i just want to make sure I'm accessible....not weird for weird's sake
7Inches: Can't we just all make music and paypal each other for it?
AFC: yaaaaay!...we will find out... (i think the new album is weirder than the first one)
7Inches: it's like that long tail theory...people only need a few hundred believing in what they do and paying $10 for you to make 30,000 a year
AFC: i would LOVE to make $30,000/yr.
AFC: i've never even made half that, so I would live like a king
7Inches: ....so 97 more to go....or something like that