High & Low with The Vacant Lots … and Interview
No one’s heard from The Vacant Lots for some time now. It’s been rumored here and there that they’ve
been living under a bridge outside of Austin, Texas, tapping into the local
power grid, relentlessly playing night and day to any passers-by who might
happen to get caught in their wake of intoxicating ethereal guitar washes and
tribal drumming. So after my sonic
beacon began blinking last week, I set out to see for myself, finding the boys
not under a bridge, but tucked away nonetheless, burning like two chemically
fueled jeweled embers, playing to the moon, blanketed by the endless Milky Way.
me again. Last time we spoke was in my
living room in Brookhaven, surrounded by shipping crates and boxes, just prior
to my move here to New Mexico, where you managed to lighten my load, so to
speak. Without a doubt you’ve been
working hard, and falling in with some serious talent, not to mention a new 7
inch, and man, I’ve gotta thank you for spinning those off the cuff demos for
me … gives me a great sense of where you’re heads are at.
Winter. Should be out by next year.
well as singing live.
inch, where Roger Brogan lends a guiding hand, while allowing you to sonically
assault the air with a wash of electronic drones that are filled with driven
lyrics, nearly stumbling me in mid step.
Were there smiles ‘round the studio as you were laying this down? You were obviously in the sweet spot, I can’t
believe you didn’t know you had a gem on your hands.
the process, what you were thinking from conception to outcome, including the
vinyl colour choice and sleeve art.
before it got shut down & turned back into a factory. We got to see Roger in L.A. last year when we
were on tour & got to talking about doing some mixing together. When he sent over the mix we were completely
blown away. He added drones, electronic
parts, percussion & drums. Roger’s
gift is that he can take something you give him & offer you an entirely
different perspective. He did this with
our song “Kingdom Come” too.
is everything really black and white for you?
Because while the art may suggest minimalism, your music certainly
they interact visually. I like the
detachment of black & the blankness of white.
standing, but you’ve returned to the more traditional stool, are there any assets
or drawbacks to standing?
opposed to the traditional Hi Hat or Ride Cymbal was able to fill in that lower
frequency range, that we sometimes found lacking due to not having a bass
player. However the real drawback is
only having use of 2 limbs instead of 4.
considered expanding for a wider variety of sound?
to be more creative in my technique and approach to the drums.
you have the ability to move the song along, measuring the pace, and setting
the stepping stones firmly in place.
their playing, and I strive to both hold the groove while also supplying an
additional melodic voice.
something about that city that brings out the best in people, how was your
recent show there?
Sound. We also got to do some recording & mixing with Brett Orrison, whom
the Black Angels recommended to us. We
recorded a song & played the festival on Saturday, then our flights were
cancelled on Sunday, so we went back into the studio & mixed a new song
called “6 AM”. Sonic Boom
[Pete Kember, late of Spacemen 3, and now with Spectrum] mastered it for us
& it will be out soon on an upcoming 7″ release.
behind the scene details I might squeeze out of you?
year & we got to meet Anton of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. He is someone we have always respected, so it
was good to finally get a chance to talk.
After we spoke for a little while, we handed him the last copy of our
Confusion 7″ that we saved to give to him and just then this girl asked to
take a picture with him. He was still
holding the 7″ in his hand and there is a photograph of that. Talk about capturing a moment.
spending a good amount of time gazing at other people’s equipment … did you
hear anything you might like to fold into your sound?
that struck me with the feeling like “Oh man, I have to get that …”
but on another angle, I got to see a handful of bands I really like, such as
Singapore Sling, The Meek, The Black Angels, BJM, Moon Duo, Psychic Ills, &
It feels like we have been refining our vision over the past three years
and working on these songs have really pushed us further on transforming the
sound. There is a more concentrated
feeling , kinda like a violent discipline that has allowed us to communicate
certain ideas more clearly with this material.
stands up? And are there any songs
you’ve recorded that you’d like to revisit in some fashion or other?
“Confusion” and “Cadillac” were two songs that
really work well together on a 7″ format.
I feel that that was a good way to introduce our sound. And releasing it on Mexican Summer certainly
helped a lot too. Not really sure on the
whole revisiting idea. I mean, we do
have a lot of early recordings that have in one way or another inspired or
influenced some of the stuff we are doing now , but there comes a time when you
need to move on. I think moving forward
is a better direction than going back.
quality equipment than more recent efforts, and that in-your-face crunch
quality really packs a punch.
Phillips, who you opened for at The Bell House, have heard some of your
under-wraps material, have they contacted you?
And if so, what do they think?
two people we sent our early recordings to three years ago. They have been really encouraging and inspiring
to us over the past few years.
been like working with him, and has he connected you with other like minded
musicians here in the States?
have ever met. He is an architect of
sound & it certainly comes through in his records and in his ideas when you
talk to him. He has given us some
really invaluable feedback over the past few years. I think one of the things about Sonic Boom
that gets overlooked is his generosity and wisdom.
meaning that he labors, building beautiful soundscapes one note at a time. I realize everyone works differently, does
your music arrive nearly fully formed, or do you labor over it?
suppose. There is a lot of revision that
goes into it but there is also a lot of spontaneity that allows things to come
through naturally. I really think it is
a process of transformation. If you can
create something that someone else can interpret towards their own life, that
is something special. Also, I think
balance is key. The process is like a
balancing act between madness and order.
It’s about creating a balance within the work and the soul.
giving each other feedback and suggestions for new or modified parts.
guitar, and singing. The result will be
made available to the greater listening public upon release of the new
Brian, give me you top 5 drummers of all time. And Jared, your top 5 guitarists please.
Dean Wareham, Lou Reed.
Will you be hooking up with any California talent, or other artists
you’ve hoped to play with?
Cosmonauts (our label mates from Reverberation Appreciation Society) and Lovely
attended shows ever been a surprise for you?
context. We’ve played to four people
& four hundred, I think the performance shouldn’t alter depending on the
door count but a large crowd doesn’t always lend itself to a better
of Vermont? I heard you once splintered
the floorboards, peeled the paint, and were asked never to return.
couple years ago. They gave us “warnings” to turn down the volume of
the set. Refusing, we launched into this
25 minute drone turning all the levels up & then creating a wall of
feedback. We then left for twenty
minutes, came back and ended the set. It
was the last time we played there, ‘cos we got banned from playing UVM ever
again. The people running the event really
had no idea what to do with us, so they just let us finish.
forever in progress, forever being expanded on … how do you perceive and
conceptualize this side of your music?
as the music does. To me, it’s like the
subconscious of the music when we play live.
the mic and say anything you feel relevant, mysterious, or important.
http://psychedelicbaby.blogspot.com / 2012