People need more good surf music in their life. I get so tired of people listening to the same Ventures albums over and over, only switching them out with Dick Dale or Davie Allan, or something! There’s some of the best ever instrumental surf rock ever going out there right now, I just don’t hear many people talk about it these days. The Protons are riding the wave high and hard though, screw hanging ten, these dudes are hanging riff and they’re not afraid to drop it like a tidal wave on unsuspecting coastal cities and settlements that lie in the wake! This is some seriously out there sci-fi garage rock in the vein of Man or Astroman? blended with the gnarly, nasty blues infused surf psychedelia of Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and they bring plenty of their own flavor to the table along with an uncanny ability to go from zero to sixty, and then back again on the drop of a dime; shifting between blistering psychedelic, garage rock riffage and some awesome mid-tempo, toe-tapping, instrumental surf. The Protons debut album Out of Phase delivers some of the catchiest, most out there surf rock I’ve heard in a long time harkening back to bands like The Arrows and Link Wray paying homage to all of the traditional facets and sounds that have paved the way for everything that’s come since whiel infusing it all with an energy that’s sorely lacking in most contemporary surf bands. Songs like “The Explanatory Gap” almost have a punkish swagger to them as well, a bravado that carries the fractured guitar and rumbling bass across the glassy surface of the drums pounding away like the ebb and flow of the tide on the walls of a cliff straight into the deepest parts of your subconscious. You can hear the mighty echo of The Protons in the distorted reverberation spilling into the echo and clatter of noise, the hammering of the bass strings like the striking of a hammer on a blacksmith’s anvil along with some sinisterly cunning drums lines, again encompassing all that’s holy and right about surf while interjecting some much needed energy and life. If songs like “Attack of the Cybermen”, “My Robot is Drunk!”, “I Miss the Smell of Tear Gas” and my above description aren’t enough to get you to listen to The Protons then hopefully the following interview will be. All four current members weighed in on where The Protons have come from, everything they’ve managed to accomplish and just where they think they’re headed from here, prepare for hyper jump in three, two, one…
Listen while you read: http://theprotons.com/
What’s the lineup in The Protons at this point? Is this the original lineup or have you all made any changes since the band started?
The Gent: It’s not the original lineup. Our original bass player was Johnny Proton. He moved away in Spring 2013. We were very fortunate to find the New Number 6 shortly afterwards.
DNA: No, the original lineup was: Major Tom, Dark Matter, ProTom and DNA. Unfortunately ProTom had to move, but after tons of tryouts we found Number Six for bass guitar who was a great choice because he fits musically and personality-wise with the band.
**THE PROTONS ARE**
Dan “DNA” Lauby – lead guitar
Matt “DarkMatter” Dark – rhythm guitar
Tom “The Gent” Manning – drums
MJ “Number Six” Woodis - bass
Are any of you in any other bands or do you have any other side projects going at this point? Have you released anything with anyone in the past? Can you tell us a bit about it if you have?
Number Six: After moving up to Portland, Oregon from San Francisco several years ago, I played bass in the acid-spiked psych-rock band The Pink Snowflakes, prior to joining the Protons. The Snowflakes self-released an EP, a 7”, two full-lengths, and did a fair amount of touring in support.
DarkMatter: No real side projects going on at this point. I’m currently working on clawhammer banjo and have plans to start a string band before I die. I’ve released ghetto home-style recordings with my other surf bands The Microwaves and The Beastniks.
The Gent: The Banned was a group I played drums in for years in New York with two of my bothers. We were very active locally and would also go on roadtrips throughout the country. We put out our own releases. A lot of it can be found and listened to for free at The Banned archive.
DNA: I have been in one surf-oriented band and a couple straight rock bands.
How old are you and where are you originally from?
Number Six: I’m 33 now, and grew up in New England, several thousand miles away from the Left Coast. I also spent about five years in San Francisco, prior to moving up to Portland in 2008.
DarkMatter: 30, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The Gent: Thirty-four. Yonkers, New York.
DNA: 34. I originate from the Russet potatoes you eat.
What was the local scene like when you were growing up? Did you see a lot of shows or were you very involved in the scene where you grew up? Do you feel like it played a large role in shaping your musical taste or in the way you perform at this point?
Number Six: I grew up in a small hometown that, at the time, didn’t take super-well to youth creativity or expression. That didn’t seem to prevent a core of kids from the area from putting together punk rock and indie outfits, though. Cops were always bagging us for skateboarding or making noise, even though those were the exact things that were keeping us out of real trouble. With the music, we got a lot of the noise complaints, forced show shut-downs, etcetera. I think a lot of the experiences instilled an anti-everything sentiment in us, which I think really had a direct effect on my musical tastes and goals.
DarkMatter: Warehouse21 was a non-profit dedicated to the youth arts scene in the Santa Fe. I was extremely lucky to be a part of it. There were underage shows every weekend, and lots of touring bands. I got to open up for/see bands like Devotcka, Polysics, Frank Jordan, and SNMNMNM. They had weekly workshops that taught me how to promote shows, use recording equipment and be on college radio. The place is still going and the kids in Santa Fe are lucky to have it, if you read this, donate money to them.
The Gent: The New York City scene that I was involved in at the time, the mid- to late-nineties, was very street punk; The Krays, TheTruents, Blanks 77, L.E.S. Stitches, the Wretched Ones, etcetera. There was hardcore and fashion punk stuff and TV-friendly type bands, too. If you were to form a Venn diagram with all of the bands, you'd probably see mostly influences from early British bands and East Coast stuff. But when you have a scene that's thriving like that, I think you begin to influence each other. Influences become indirect, or secondary. For instance, I might be heavily influenced by a guy or a band and I don't even know where they've copped their shtick from because we don't listen to the same things, but my band plays with theirs or whatever.
DNA: I call Olympia, Washington my home. I was there when Kurt Cobain lived there. I went to shows at Evergreen State College. I learned about music in the midst of the “grunge” scene, and it was absolutely a huge influence on me. I strongly believe in the melody and passion of a song rather than the technical, formatted, forced song/idea.
What about your house when you were a kid? Were either your parents or any of your relatives musicians or extremely interested or involved in music?
Number Six: There was a strange irony in my life where I did get a bass guitar for Christmas, after proving I could spend some time learning how to play an acoustic guitar, but once the amplification came into play, I wasn’t really allowed to play at the house. Luckily, I had a couple of friends who had the available garage or basement, or attic at one point, for practicing with a group.
The Gent: Parents, no. My older brother plays bass and drums and guitar. One of my younger brothers plays guitar. The three of us played in a band together.
DNA: Apparently my grandfather was quite the banjo player and both my grandmothers were piano players. My sister is an amazing singer, soprano, who studied music in college.
What do you consider to be your first real exposure to music?
DarkMatter: I went to my first show when I was thirteen or fourteen. I saw a punk band called Regicide, a blues/rock band called Sour Mash and a Reggae-ish band called Creation. It was the first time for me, that being involved in music became a reality. I started going to shows weekly after that.
The Gent: My mom probably sang me lullabies or kids' songs when I was an infant and toddler. Or I learned that stuff in my earliest school years. Other than that, I do recall Neil Diamond's "Coming to America" on the living room turntable and Billy Joel's "Uptown Girl" on the tapes in the car. My Dad liked Bruce Springsteen a lot.
DNA: Again, it was within the “grunge/punk” movement in the Northwest.
If you were to pick a single moment of music, a moment that seemed to change everything and opened your eyes to the infinite possibilities of it all, what would it be?
Number Six: I’m probably going to sound existential in this reply, but I remember one time having a profound enjoyment of Steve Reich’s Drumming album while on a healthy amount of mushrooms. That really helped establish in my mind that there’re a lot of ways to go with music in general. However, I have to admit that I was probably already starting to amass a pretty eclectic selection of music by that point anyway.
DarkMatter: See above… Or one of the times I did mushrooms.
DNA: That’s a hard one. I suppose, the first time I experienced a live local band, Fitz of Depression, playing in a basement in Olympia. It opened my mind and showed the power and impact a band could have, that there’s something in life other than the expected “careers” that society expects.
When did you decide that you wanted to start writing and performing your own music? What brought that decision about for you?
The Gent: I decided I wanted to be in a band that wrote their own material as soon as I got into punk at fifteen. At that age, I realized it was possible and it wasn’t about being great or impressive, it was just about doing it; the point of entry had been lowered in my mind. Suddenly, I realized that the bands I was impressed with wrote their own songs and play at legitimate venues. What I wanted to get away from were the bands that exclusively played high schools and did poor covers of songs on the Music Television Channel.
DNA: When my friend who introduced me to playing guitar showed me I could play anything I wanted rather than learning other band’s songs.
What was your first instrument? When and how did you get that?
DarkMatter: My first instrument was the coronet. My uncle had one laying around, so I joined band in third grade. I really, really sucked at the coronet.
The Gent: Drums. I got my first kit when I was thirteen. It was partially a confirmation present from my parents and I paid for half of it with money that I'd been saving from my paper route. I suppose the real gift was that they were saying, "Okay, we love you enough that we'll put up with the obnoxiousness of you trying to learn this unavoidably loud instrument while we're trying to do anything else with our lives in our own home, which should be the one place where we can find peace!"
DNA: Harmonica. My parents bought one for me when we walked through a music shop. I was around ten years old.
When and how did you all originally meet?
DarkMatter: The Gent and I met at a coffee shop that we both worked at. We started jamming and a few weeks later I answered DNA’s Craigslist ad. The (New) Number 6 was a Craigslist find too.
The Gent: I met Dark Matter when I took a job at a coffee shop here in Portland. He was the resident chain-smoking latte artist and I ascertained that he played guitar and liked a lot of music that I liked. DNA was one of those rare gifts of Craigslist. He was looking to do nearly the same type of band that Dark Matter was and he had quite a number of songs written and recorded on his home computer, so it came together really very quickly. The (New) Number 6 was another case of a well timed Craigslist find. He had taken a break from music after making a real go of it with his last band and feeling a little overloaded. He was looking to get into things right after our original bass player, Johnny Proton, had moved away, and it was simply a really good fit. He came in right after we put out our 7" record last year.
DNA: Hmm… It was about three years ago. I put up a random Craigslist post for others in to the surf style. Dark Matter contacted me with interest. He was already practicing with our drummer Major Tom. We met up to try things out and it just clicked.
What led to the formation of The Protons and when would that have been exactly?
The Gent: What led to the formation was that Dark Matter was longing to play music with other people and be in a band again. He wanted to do surf, specifically. I was playing with some other guys at the time, The Towering Trees, and so me and Matt would get together at The Trees practice space and play a bit, just drums and guitar. I think we tried out a bass player or two before we got a hold of DNA. This would have been exactly the Fall of 2010. I believe we first met DNA in November and by January 2011 we had found Johnny Proton and were playing songs that would make it onto the 7", and that we still play live today.
Where are The Protons located at this point?
Number Six: Portland, Oregon.
DNA: Portland, Oregon. Support your local breweries!
How would you describe the local scene where you all are at?
The Gent: We're not really part of a scene. However, there are a number of good surf bands in the city, and we seem to know each other. We've played more than once with bands like The Planet Crashers, King Ghidora, and Wavesauce.
DNA: Portland’s very diverse and has some great bands. Though, I feel the music scene is a bit stale. I think the opportunity for bands to showcase and get exposure is difficult. Unfortunately, I feel like it’s a touring town. Bands that come through have more opportunity then the local groups.
Do you feel like you’re very involved in the local scene? Do you book or attend a lot of local shows?
Number Six: I’ve been fairly involved throughout town since moving up to Portland, and have played quite a few shows with previous projects or filling in on random shows for friend’s bands. I try to catch any friends from outside Oregon that tour through, and do my best to keep up with the projects of my friends, when time permits.
The Gent: No.
DNA: Not really. I’m an introverted person. As far as booking, I believe we’ve only booked two shows in our “career”. Really all of our shows come from other people asking us to play. I guess, that’s a good thing?
Are you involved in recording or releasing any local music at all? If so, can you tell us about that briefly now?
Number Six: I run a mini art/music label called PsychoNot Art and have released several projects from local, and not-so-local, friends. Additionally, I’ve filled in on various recordings that friends have done. Most recently, my friend Joel Magid just released his second full-length record which has a handful of overdub tracks that I helped with. His project has more of a 60s/indie edge to it; kinda like if Ray Davies had grown up in a punkier garage band before starting The Kinks.
The Gent: Not presently. For years, I did double duty, playing drums in The Protons and in The Towering Trees. I'm no longer with them, but we released a full-length LP toward the end of 2013 that has really great songs on it. I'm proud of that release; it's called Hangover Hearts.
DNA: Only The Protons.
Has the local scene played a large or important role in the formation, sound, history or evolution of The Protons or do you feel like you all could be doing what you are, and sound like you do, regardless of where you were located at or what you were surrounded by?
Number Six: I think the band united based on a personal desire from everyone to be involved in some kind of surf-ish project that was more than just “surf”. Everything affects everything else and stuff, but we’re primarily in it for the fun of doing what we’re doing.
The Gent: No and yes, as long as the four of us could get together. I don’t think our surroundings play a major role.
DNA: My prior influences are definitely rooted in the Northwest, though the groups that have driven me into this ‘genre’ of music are nowhere near, except, of course, for Satan’s Pilgrims, Surf Trio, Galaxy Trio, among others.
I love the name and it summons these images of like, lasers and electrons and power-beams or something, ha-ha! Who came up with the name and what does it mean or refer to? How did you all go about choosing it?
Number Six: I’m a late-joiner, but rumour on the street has it that there was a typo on the first show flier, and that it was supposed to be “The Brotons”. Hopefully that rumor is bunk.
DarkMatter: DNA came up with it after a long battle deciding. Once we said it, we all just kind of knew that would be the name.
DNA: After weeks of throwing names around, I was lying in bed reading and it just hit me. I emailed the rest of the guys saying this is the name, and they agreed. It’s refers to science, which includes the exploration of how the hell we’re able to exist on this floating rock.
Is there any sort of shared creed, code, ideal or mantra that the band shares or lives by?
DarkMatter: Pizza and Beer.
The Gent: Pizza and Beer
Number Six: …and Gin.
How would you describe The Protons sound to our readers who might not have heard you before in your own words?
Number Six: I used the term “sci-fried surf rock” for our one-sheet recently, and feel that the shoe fits pretty well.
DarkMatter: Have you heard the Pulp Fiction soundtrack? It sounds like that.
DNA: Instrumental surf/rock group that is instrumental! With a twist of Einstien, Spaceballs and Blazing Saddles. Oh, and beer of course; this is Portland, breweries in your backyard. Go ahead, call us beer snobs.
You guys have some cool influences, and while some of them are kind of apparent when listening to your stuff it feels like there’s a lot more going on underneath the surface. Who are some of your major musical influences? What about influences on the band as a whole rather than just individually?
DarkMatter: My major influences are old country/blues/jazz guys, Skip James, Blind Boy Fuller, Benny Goodman, Charlie Christian, Howlin’ Wolf, Hank Williams, The Carter Family. Stuff like that. Influences for the band would definitely be Man or Astro-man?, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet and Satan’s Pilgrims.
DNA: I can’t speak for the whole band.; especially since we all come from diverse influences.
What’s the songwriting process with The Protons like? Is there someone who comes to the rest of you with a riff or more finished idea for a song to finish with the rest of you? Or do you all get together and just kind of jam out, kicking ideas back and forth until you work out a song from that process?
Number Six: Ever been to the dentist?
DarkMatter: DNA would definitely be called the brains of the operation. He usually has a blueprint all laid out and teaches us our parts. After that, we all just kind of tweak our parts or give suggestions to each other. We all have a good working relationship as far as that stuff is concerned.
DNA: I generally write the songs and bring them into practice. Though, fortunately others have brought in their own songs/ideas recently and we’re all working out new ideas together which I think is important. It gives the band a more diverse sound.
What about recording? I think that most musicians can appreciate the end result of all the time, hard work and effort that goes into making an album. Getting to that final point though, getting everything to sound the way that you want, and especially doing that as a band, can be extremely stressful to say the least! What’s it like recording for The Protons?
DarkMatter: Oh man, recording is fun. Tim Shrout at Badlands recorded us. We did the whole thing in one day with about three or four takes per song. DNA did all the mastering.
The Gent: It's like, we practice the hell out of whatever songs we might think we're recording so that we can play it live in a room together and just press record.
DNA: We are a live band. We record live. Other than adding sound clips or atmospheric sounds, it is what it is.
Do you all prefer to take a DIY approach to recording where you handle most aspects on your own or do you head into a studio and let a technician take over that side of tings so you can concentrate on performing?
DNA: We prefer the DIY approach. It gives us more musical freedom and is much more affordable.
DarkMatter: I’m very for the DIY side of things and that was the beauty of finding Tim Shrout. He heard us and just knew what to do. None of us tried to micro-manage him or anything and I think that helped to make the recording great. Just let the man work!
The Gent: We've really only had one recording session as a band, and that one session covers songs from The Explanatory Gap 7" and the Out of Phase full-length. Tim Shrout of Badlands Studios was the engineer on that, and I think it was very cooperative. He was open to having as much, or as little, input as we deemed necessary, and I think we took some cues from him in some areas, and in a lot of way we already knew exactly what we wanted to do. DNA did the mixing and mastering for both releases, so in that way we handled a lot of the recording process in-house.
Is there a lot of preparation that goes into a recording session for The Protons getting songs to sound just the way that you want them to with every change and arrangement worked out and finely tuned? Or do you all get a good idea of what a song should sound like and then give it room for change and variation during the recording process?
DNA: We like to go prepared. We will play a song over and over until we’re all happy with it. Though, we are open to spontaneous changes. When you’re in a recording environment, dynamics can change we’re always open to outside input.
The Gent: We go in to recording with a very specific idea in mind and it's more about execution than it is about creation, by that point. However, I'm sure if we made late discoveries that something different was working out better than whatever it had been that we practiced, we would follow that energy and make room for those new ideas.
DarkMatter: We’re a very tight band and the songs have a very specific layout. The last thing we could ever be called is a jam band or anything like that.
Your first release that I’m aware of is the self-released 2013 four-track 7” single, The Explanatory Gap. Can you tell us a little bit about the recording of the material for The Explanatory Gap? When and where was that recorded at? Who recorded it? What kind of equipment was used? I know that The Explanatory Gap is still available from you, is that a limited release at all? If so, do you know how many copies it’s limited to?
DarkMatter: Both the first EP and the full-length were recorded on the same day by Tim Shrout at Badlands. I think it was June or July of 2012? Maybe 2013, these things are hard to keep track of. I used a Fender Deluxe Reverb, Gretsch 6120 DSW and some pedals. I was going to use my Fender Reverb Unit but DNA’s crapped out about five minutes before the first take of the first song. After I threw a little fit, I decided to let him use my reverb unit because he’s important and stuff.
The Gent: July 2012 with Tim Shrout at Badlands in Northeast Portland. Pro Tools? I don't really know what equipment he uses specifically. DNA could probably tell you. Tim operates a home studio, though. It's not some elaborate set-up with tens of thousands of dollars of equipment. The EP’s a limited release, but still available. We only printed 300 copies.
DNA: We used limited mics, only three or four on the drums. We believe in capturing the live feel. We don’t sit around doing overdubs all day. Just go in and play as we would live.
You all are getting ready to release your debut full-length album Out Of Phase really soon through Deep Eddy Records. If I understand right the songs from Out Of Phase are from the same session(s) as The Explanatory Gap? If that’s true, are they being mastered and mixed at the same place as before?
The Gent: Yes, DNA mixed and mastered both releases.
DarkMatter: Yup! DNA did all the mixing/mastering at the same time as the EP. We’ve been sitting on those tracks for a while. The (New) Number 6 was really the catalyst for putting this album out. Good man.
Number Six: Please note that we’re only planning to use Deep Eddy for distribution at this time. I don’t believe this is a specific release under their name.
When was Out Of Phase released? What can our readers expect from the new album?
Number Six: Out of Phase was released on March 14th, 2014. All listeners should prepare for thirty-three minutes of garage, western, prog, spacey, surf-rock.
I know that you all have made several appearances on compilations as well but from what I understand those tracks have all either been released as part of the Explanatory Gap single or are going to be featured on the upcoming Out Of Phase album. Are there any tracks that are exclusive to compilations or are there any of those tracks that are different recordings or masterings of the tracks?
DarkMatter: Wait, no one told me we were on any compilations. Where can I get one?
The Gent: No tracks would be exclusive to compilations with other bands. All of the material that we’ve recorded for release so far was recorded in a single session.
With the release of Out Of Phase rapidly approaching, do The Protons have any other releases planned or in the works at this point?
Number Six: We could answer this for you now, but then we’d have to kill you. And you’ve been so nice thus far.
DarkMatter: Nah, we have a few new songs that we need to get down but no active plants to release anything.
The Gent: We have newer songs that we’ve been playing for some time and want to record soon, hopefully summer 2014.
Where’s the best place for our US readers to pick up copies of your music?
Number Six: You can find our music online on our website, or via all of the classic download sites, such as iTunes, Amazon, etcetera and Spotify/Rdio, too, if you’re into that awful streaming model that’s so popular these days.
DNA: theprotons.com allows you to purchase a digital download as well as iTunes and CD Baby. You can order physical copies through our website and CD Baby.
With the completely idiotic international postage rate increases that have taken place over the past few years I try and provide our readers with as many possibly options for picking up imports as I can. Where’s the best place for our international and overseas readers to grab your stuff?
DarkMatter: Oh geez. Yeah, good luck with that.
Number Six: Actually, the digital downloads should be available worldwide, so that’s the default option. Otherwise, you can purchase physical copies via CD Baby and they’ll be happy to ship internationally to you.
DNA: Definitely on-line.
And where’s the best place for our readers to keep up on the latest news like upcoming shows and album releases at?
DarkMatter: Our Twitter might be the best place: @theprotons.
DNA: theprotons.com has links to all our social sites that include music, picturess, videos, reviews and show updates.
Are there any major plans or goals that The Protons are looking to accomplish in 2014?
DarkMatter: Play shows, eat pizza and drink beer.
Number Six: …And gin.
DNA: Playing more live shows and getting music out to a wider audience.
What, if anything, do The Protons have planned as far as touring goes for 2014?
DNA: Not at this time. We perform a lot in Portland, Oregon and the surrounding areas.
Do you remember what the first song that The Protons ever played live was? When and where would that have been at?
DarkMatter: I don’t remember the first song, but our first show was at Langano Lounge here in Portland. It was fun.
The Gent: “The Night Agent Dunby Lost His Keys” at the Langano Lounge in Southeast Portland, April 2011.
Who are some of your personal favorite bands that you all have had a chance to share a bill with so far?
DarkMatter: Nope, but we’ve played with some great bands that I’m a fan of now: The Primitive Idols, WaveSauce, The Planet Crashers, 42 Ford Prefect, Sharks From Mars. Check those guys out.
The Gent: Dr. Stahl.
DNA: Man…Or Astro-Man?, Satan’s Pilgrims, Slayer, lol! The cool thing is we all come from different musical backgrounds and interests. I feel it gives us an original sound, not just your straight up surf-rock band.
In your dreams, who are you on tour with?
Number Six: Carl Sagan.
DarkMatter: A tame squirrel that, once he starts playing the bongos, is no longer tame. You said my dreams right?
The Gent: The Replacements and Minor Threat. I feel stuck in the middle in a lot of my dreams.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories from live shows or performances that you’d like to share here with our readers?
DarkMatter: Not really, I don’t really remember a lot of our shows.
DNA: Nothing too crazy. No one has fallen off the stage yet… It was funny playing a few shows with some metal-head bands!
Do you all give a lot of thought to the visual aspects that represent the band like flyers, posters, shirt designs, covers or other artwork? Is there any kind of meaning or message that you’re trying to convey with your artwork? Do you have anyone that you usually turn to in your times of need when it comes to that kind of thing and if so, who is that and how did you get hooked up with them originally?
DarkMatter: We didn’t until The (New) Number 6 showed up. Now we still don’t, but he does. Wait, I bought a fog machine and that thing rules. So, I helped I guess.
DNA: We all try to help with that, but Number Six is definitely the man that makes it happen.
Number Six: I’ve done graphic design for some previous projects, both my own and others, so I’ve always had fun at the wheel of the design-aspect of things. Each project has a vibe, and I don’t feel they always need to be uber-profound. The show fliers and cover art always just seem to morph into what they’re supposed to be, so really there’s always going to be hidden meanings in it all, whether it was intended at the design level or not. With regard to live shows, my last project, The Pink Snowflakes, had a highly-visual live show, lotsa lights, strobes, bubbles, art noise; real seizure-style stuff. With The Protons, we do some backdrop and LED lighting here-and-there, probably a lot more tasteful than what I’ve done before.
With all of the various mediums of release that are available to musicians today I’m always curious why they choose and prefer the various mediums that they do. Do you have a preferred medium of release for your own music? What about when you’re purchasing and or listening to music? If so, can you talk a little bit about what you preference is and why?
DarkMatter: Vinyl. I only want vinyl. I started collecting in high school and now I can’t stop.
The Gent: We chose the 7" record because records seem to endure better than some other formats. Personally, I probably pay more attention to a vinyl record when I play one than I do to, say, a shuffled playlist on the computer. And that attention extends to the cover art, songs titles, band members, etcetera. I think we released Out of Phase on compact disc because it’s a more inexpensive medium and we have limited funds at the moment. As many others likely do, I tend to discard compact discs after the music has been ripped to my computer.
DNA: I prefer vinyl because it’s really a piece of artwork and I enjoy the sound of it more than digital copies.
Do you have a music collection at all, and if so can you tell us a bit about it?
Number Six: I was unemployed for a year-and-a-half stretch when I first moved to Portland, and sold off my entire collection of physical music, except for the discs that were either 1) made by a friend, or 2) I thought had exceptional art/design work. Since then, the majority of my purchases have been downloads, admittedly. I really am into a lot of instrumental music and psych, krautrock, garage, delta blues, etcetera. Honestly, though, if it’s something that hits me in the right way, I’ll listen to it, regardless of genre.
DarkMatter: I’m all over the map. I have anything from turn-of-the-century ragtime to hardcore. I don’t love all types of music, but I love all types of bands.
The Gent: It's more of an accumulation than a collection, but yeah. A lot of punk and hardcore 7" and LP's from the 80's and 90's, a bunch of classic rock stuff, and recent releases from people like Sharon Van Etten and Tom Waits. There’re boxes of compact discs stowed away somewhere, mostly local bands and stuff on smaller independent labels that can't be acquired quite as easily as some more popular music. And then days upon days upon days of digital files on the computer, everything from demos by obscure bands to the most obvious artist you might think of. It's so varied that I’ll stop myself from going into it all the different types of music.
DNA: Mine is pretty diverse. Pretty much anything other than contemporary country!
I grew up around a pretty massive collection of old school psych, vintage garage rock and tons of classic blues music and I was encouraged to listen to just about anything that floated my boat from a pretty young age. There’s something magical about sticking an album on, kicking back with a set of headphones, reading the liner notes, staring at the cover artwork and just getting lost in the whole experience and it’s kind of grown into an obsession for me. There’s something about having a physical object to hold and experience along with the music that made for a much more complete listening experience for me. Do you have any such connection with physically released music?
The Gent: Yes, indeed.
DarkMatter: I’ve had similar experiences while listening to my collection.
Number Six: If you can clone yourself into about 50,000 more iterations, and let them know about us, I’d be stoked to direct you to where you can find our music available for purchase.
As much as I love my music collection digital music has changed everything, whether for the better or worse. I personally think it’s mostly been for the better, together with the internet it’s exposed people to the literal world of music that’s out there right now and eliminated a lot of the problems that arose from making music in isolated or remote locations. Nothing is ever black and white though, and while people are being exposed to the music they’re not necessarily paying for it all the time. Illegal downloading is running rampant and music is becoming this disposable experience to be used and forgotten. As an artist during the reign of the digital era, what’s your opinion on digital music and distribution?
Number Six: I actually work in digital music distribution for my day-job, so I could probably go on about this topic for days. However, it’s the weekend for me right now.
DarkMatter: I’m all for digital distribution. Instant access to your new favorite band can be a powerful thing. I’m personally also for free distribution of music. I found for myself, that if I can stream something and listen to the whole album, I’m more likely to buy it. You can stream all of our songs at theprotons.com.
The Gent: I've never come to a definitive answer on this matter. You’ll have to interview us again at a later date and ask me then!
I try to keep up with as much music as I can but there’s just not enough time in the day to even listen to one percent of the amazing stuff that’s out there right now. Is there anyone from your local scene or area that I might not have heard of that I should be listening to? What about nationally and internationally?
Number Six: I hear Nickelback may be on tour again later this year…
The Gent: I always point everyone to my bothers' band in New York. They're called the Big Con. They have an excellent full-length called Time Is at My Throat. Beyond that, like you said, there's so much good stuff out there, one hardly needs me to help them find any of it!
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me about The Protons, I know that it took some time to finish as it took me quite some time to get this written up! It was awesome to learn so much about the band and I hope you all had at least a little bit of fun looking back on everything that you’ve managed to accomplish as a band over the past few years. Before we call it a day and sign off, is there anything that I could have possibly missed or that you’d just like to take this opportunity to talk to me or my readers about?
The Gent: I think that covers it for me.
Number Six: SUPPORT THE ARTS!
(2013) The Protons – The Explanatory Gap – digital, 7” – Self-Released (Limited to ? copies on Translucent Red Vinyl)
(2014) The Protons – Out Of Phase – digital, CD – Self-Released/Deep Eddy Records
Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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