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Ex Nuns interview with Joram Livengood and Jeff Truckenmiller

Following up from last year’s dose of completely unhinged psychedelic post-punk noise a la the Dead Zero single, Ex Nuns have unleashed a fresh batch of mind altering hysteria for the public to pop like ecstasy at a rave in the form of the four track Death Triangle EP cassette.  If you tuned into the detached, antiseptic sound of “Dead Zero” and “Crash Meditation” then the new cassette may be almost shocking at first.  There’re the same elements of noise, punk, psych and dead ahead rock ‘n’ roll but it’s so much fucking harder this time around!  It’s a little bit looser, a little bit noisier, and most definitely more hardcore.  The vocals are the first thing that rattles your brain, traversing from the subversive, hypnotic drones on their first single Death Triangle is wall-to-wall, balls-out hardcore noise in the most grandiose sense.  The howling vocals on the opening track “Whore’s Heart” suddenly drop out into a faded haze of reverberated screams and tumbling utterances into the dark void of reality.  The guitar is mixed a little bit lower, treading on the same convulsive explosions between rhythm riffing and all-out screeching solos of gnarly, distorted guitar pummeling the decimated remains of what used to be your eardrums.  “Force Of Habit” displays a penchant for actual riffage throughout a song which I something I’d yet to hear from the fellows and carries the savage power of the first track into the third part of this debaucherous and noisy foray into the dark recess of post-punk dissonance, “Shiner”.  Clocking in at a mere two minutes and fifteen seconds it’s not only the shortest track to date, it’s a front to back, good ol’ fashioned punk ass whooping that’s setting you up for the seeming knock-out blow “Charles”.  That being said you should definitely score a copy of the tape while it’s around, and while you’re streaming it on your computer, anxiously awaiting your tape in the mail, you can read the sweet interview below and get all the sweet, sweet details on the recording of the new material and just what Ex Nuns have been, and plan to be, up to!  Yep, Psychedelic Baby’s kinda your one stop shop.  You’re welcome.

Listen while you read:

Okay man, so who all’s there?

Joram:  It’s me and Jeff.

We talked to you guys last year right after you had droped your single (interview here).  What have you all been up to since then?  I mean obviously, other than putting out the EP real recently and everything?

Jeff:  Um, playing too many shows, ha-ha!  Yeah, we’re kind of hitting it hard right now we’ve got a lot of shows coming up, some really good shows.  We’re going to play with some really cool Minneapolis punk bands this summer, some really good shows and then we’re going to Montana to play Total Fest.  I think we’re going to try and do a tour later this year with us and this up and coming band New Wave Hookers, they’re pretty exciting.  So, try to hit the road as much as possible, write as much as possible and then record another full-length or EP, we’re not sure yet.  It’s all about monetary supplementation is the main issue, I guess…

Right, right.  But you all have already got your mind set on recording something else?

Joram:  Oh, yeah!  We actually, so we did those live studio videos for you and two of those songs we’re going to send you are brand new, yeah brand new, unrecorded tracks.

Cool!  So how much stuff other than the material of the new EP do you all have?  Because there are four tracks on the new EP, right?

Joram:  Yup.

How much other than that do you all have written?

Joram:  Seven songs?

Jeff:  Yeah…

Joram:  I think seven songs.

So you guys are definitely on your way to an actual full-length then?  Jesus…

Jeff:  Yeah, I mean I’m a little apprehensive about a full-legnth because we’re not like, you know, that well known, or whatever.  So, like I don’t know who would want to listen to a full-length by us, ha-ha!

Joram:  Yeah, it’s like “Who the hell is this band? Why do they have 10 songs?”

Well talking about the new EP, did you all try anything new or radically different with the songwriting or recording?  Had the songs been around for a little while and you guys were just holding off for a bit to record them?

Joram:  Well, I think basically is what happened is, was we all just got more comfortable with each other as far as playing and writing.  Um, because we had never been in a band together before…

Jeff:  Well me and Ian had been in a band together before, but not like this.

Joram:  It was short lived.

Jeff:  It was short lived.

Joram:  But uh, stylistically it just shifted because it was just more comfortable for us to do that kind of music, it makes more sense to us, we understand it a little better and I feel like we didn’t have to try to write something, it just kind of happened. 

Jeff:  Yeah, we don’t, we don’t like – we don’t go in it…  We like so much different fucking kinds of music like , we just like don’t try to go in and do anything kind of specific.  It’s just basically what we’re going through in our lives, you know?  It all just seems to kind of come out, so I don’t know…  Ha-ha!!

Joram:  (joins in laughter)

It’s a little snapshot of your brain right at that second?

Jeff:  Yeah we’re pretty depressed individuals, ha-ha!

Joram:  I wouldn’t go that far…

Jeff:  I’m just screwing around, it’s funny.

Where did you guys record the EP at?

Jeff:  Our buddy Knol, Knol Tate.  He’s an engineer here, he has a house that he records bands at and he um, offered to record us and we recorded all this rotation in like two days.  It was really fast and it was really affordable, and we’re like very happy with him and we’re definitely going to be recording in the future with him.  He’s been in like, a lot of punk bands and he definitely understands the sounds that we’re going for.  It’s really, really amazing to work with this really cool dude so we also hope to work with him in the future.

Did you all feel like there was a big difference between working on the material for this new EP as opposed to like the single that came out last year?  I know you said you guys feel like you’ve gotten a lot more comfortable as a band, have you guys learned a lot as a band as well?  Or changed a lot since those recordings?

Joram:  Oh yeah, absolutely!

Jeff:  Oh my god, well you know we had four people in our band and then we dropped to just us three.  So, we have less musicians in the mix…

Oh, really?

Jeff:  Yeah, so um one less person, so we’re a trio now and I think it’s going to be that way for the rest of our career, so like um…  It definitely different but it’s a little bit more focused now and it’s a lot faster writing, we write songs a lot faster now.  And it’s more fun because we’re better musicians than we were when we first started.  And yeah um, yeah, I mean it’s just like the writing is more fun, it’s less stressful.  I used to dread writing in this band, now I think it’s more fun.  But then again, I’m um, I’m better than I was too so it’s a lot easier.  I think now we’re just more focusing on having fun right now and

Joram:  And it’s a lot different ‘cause for that seven inch, for those two songs, um they had already pretty much written those and didn’t have a bass player.  So, I joined and just wrote my parts for the songs but all this new stuff, it’s like a three-way writing process.  Everyone has their own ideas, everyone throws them out there.  There’s constructive criticism and um, opinions and stuff.

Jeff:  But, we don’t really argue when we’re writing anymore so it’s kinda peaceful actually, it’s more fun.  Like I said we’re just having more fun as a band, just enjoying it, you now?

Not to pry too much, but um, you said you know you kind of dreaded writing stuff before and that now it’s a little bit more collaborative, you get to add your own ideas and kind of come in and do your own thing but together as a band.  Like what has changed?  I mean, I know you’re working as a trio now and stuff, but when you say, “I dreaded writing” that bring some gnarly imagery to my head, you know what I’m saying?  And you also said, “we don’t argue anymore writing songs”…

Joram:  There’s no more like, fetal position cry sessions, ha-ha! 

Jeff: Yeah, yeah…  It’s just like less bullshit now so um, I don’t know I just think, maybe the relationship between us is better or whatever.  It’s just fun, it’s more fun…

Joram:  Everyone listens to each other, if someone is doing something and the other people think it oculd be better, they voice it and that person will take that and um, make it better!

Jeff:  Or with something’s we find it just fails to excite us initially then it’s like, we have to like let it go, hey, we can’t do this anymore, just drop out of it.

Joram:  We’ve written so many in the last year we’ve ditched like probably five songs just entirely, we play them at shows for a few months and then we just loose an initial excitement of a brand new song that we’re playing ‘cause we write a different song, and we’re like, “the new song’s way better than the old one, let’s throw that old one away”! 

Jeff:  Yeah, we’re pretty um…  We would rather be our own worst critic, you know – that sort of thing?  We’d rather call ourselves out, I mean um, yeah…  I don’t know.

Rather than putting out every belch, fart, and whistle like my father would say you guys are like a little more selective about what you want to put out there?

Jeff:  Yeah, it’s just like so painful to see bands play songs that they think they have to play to fill space, and you can tell they’re not their best ideas, you know?  And it’s just like I don’t want to do that!

God!  Man I’m in a band and you know like down in my area we have to play like three and a half hour shows!

Jeff:  (laughs)

Joram:  Holy shit! (laughs)

Jeff:  (laughing) I have never heard of that before!

Oh man, and when you play three and a half hour shows it doesn’t matter, I don’t give a shit if you’ve got three bands – which is a fucking nightmare to set up and take down anyways and even then, you know everyone else has got like thirty to forty five minutes of material.  So it doesn’t matter, we’re up there for like two hours!  So we’ve got like seventy-five songs and I know exactly what you’re talking about, because you can just see the crowd.  They’re like, “wow that was just totally a half-assed idea”.  Well, and it might not even be that the song’s not that good, it’s just you feel that way.  You’re like dude, we have like ten songs that I would rather be playing right now, but instead there’s this six minutes that we have patch in…

Jeff:  You know man?  That’s exactly it…

Joram:  It’s like that seven inch that we did, we uh, we released that, we played the release show and uh, after that we just pretty much stopped playing those songs all together because we had all this new material written, and we were over that seven inch by the time it actually came out.

You guys were talking about how you kind of cycle stuff in a live and then move it out, and I know you guys aren't really interested in doing studio recordings of that stuff but you guess seem to um, do really well with live stuff.  I’ve seen those, I haven’t seen the videos you shot for Psychedelic Baby yet, but I’ve seen some stuff floating around online and you guys are pretty tight live!  There are some bands, a little bit sloppy I wouldn’t really recommend it, have you guys thought about compiling some of that stuff from your live performances, maybe doing a live recording or something?

Joram:  Uh no, that’s not really something we’ve thought about.  I think someone offered, they do like an archive of Minneapolis bands and they wanted to do one of our shows so they could put it in that archive, and that’s fine but we wouldn’t like actively seek out doing a live recording like that, it’s.  I don’t really know why, it’s just not something we’ve thought about.  We’re just like, to focused on other aspects of our lives outside of the band that doing practice and playing shows and stuff is, uh, kinda all we focus on right now, writing new music and stuff, so…

Right on.  Well, talking about the bigger goal and what you guys have in mind, are there any major plans or goals that you guys are looking to accomplish in the end of 2014?

Jeff:  We’re playing Total Fest in Montana in August, and that’s kinda like a big deal for us ‘cause there are like a lot of amazing fucking bands that are playing that festival as well too, so that’s one goal that we’re going to accomplish.  I mean, ideally we’d like to you know tour more, but I think that we need more material…  We need like a really, a record that we feel like we’re like one hundred percent about and then we’re ready to go out and tour the world, I think we’re kind of like waiting for that moment but I think that we’re trying to make sure our skills you know are, that we’re a better band before that happens, you know?  We just keep working at it, and I think we’re just waiting for the right time for that to happen to tour all the time.  I mean right now we’re all too busy working, I’m in another band too so my time is split between Ex Nuns and my other band, but you know I’m just constantly working on music so, I don’t know.  It’ll happen when it happens, I guess.  But we definitely want to do that, tour the world that would be really cool.

Is there anything that you guys want to cover or bring up?

Joram:  Uuuuuuuuhhhhh.......I was going to try think of something witty, but I’m not that witty so fuck it.

Jeff:  Uh no, I just think this summer, we’re like booked solid this summer and we’re all really excited about our upcoming gigs that we have and we’re just, like fucking enjoying it man!  You know?  (laughs)  It’s like, we’re playing in some really cool shows, and we’re really happy with our EP and the new tunes, it’s definitely more noisy hardcore kind of stuff and its, I’m really excited about it.  It’s more angry, and it’s way more fun too so it’s, I’m really excited to present more material and hit the road and to play shows, you know?  Yeah, it’s really fun, it’s being more and more fun so you know.

Joram:  I just kind of want to see places.  I just wanna go play a show, have some drinks, meet some people and then do it all over again…

Jeff:  Yeah it’s all around the world, it’s like meet cool people that like punk music and art and, you know?  Just fucking do it!  It’s like, it’s exciting.

Joram:  It’s not really about the like, I wanna be in a band to like, get big or have people notice me.  We just want do this so we can enjoy the experience of the band itself…

Jeff:  Yeah!  Yeah, put out music that we’re one hundred percent behind and play with bands that really inspire us.  I think that’s just the, that’s the most rewarding thing and I mean I don’t, we don’t give a fuck if no one likes us!  I mean like, we’re not like an accessible band.

Joram:  We’re not writing music for you! We're writing music for us.

Jeff:  (laughs)  It’s like, we don’t give a shit, you know?

Joram:  (laughing)  We’re just kind of lucky that some people care, we’re very lucky!

Jeff:  Yeah, pretty fortunate…  You know what I mean?

(Laughs)  No, no I know exactly what you’re saying dude… 

Jeff:  We just don’t give a fuck man…

That’s the way to be dude!  If you start giving a fuck it gets into your head!

Jeff:  Yeah, it’s just, it’s fun and that’s all I think about so… 

Joram:  If you’re not having fun, why the fuck are you doing it?

Because you’re all wrapped up in your self neurosis of one type or another, that’s why…

Joram:  Yeah sure, it would be like, really, monetarily awesome to play guitar for like, Miley Cyrus but that sounds boring as shit!

Jeff:  Oh, I don’t know, I don’t think I’d be very happy doing that to be honest with you…

Joram:  You’d make a lot of money though…

Jeff:  I don’t give a fuck about the money!

Joram:  Exactly, we don’t give a fuck about the money!

Jeff: (laughs)

Joram: We just wanna have a good time.

Jeff: I just don't care.

I would have a really nice house for the six months before I put a shotgun in my mouth, I’ll say that! (laughs)  The one thing you guys did kind of bring up that was like, with all of your shows coming up you guys are talking about how you’re booked pretty solid, and how you guys re looking forward to doing a lot of stuff.  Are there any bands, you know, you guys are really looking forward to playing with?  Is there anyone that you guys have been looking forward to?

Jeff:  We’re playing this 5 year anniversary at this music venue/bar called Cause and we’re playing with this really cool band, this um bill with this band Gay Witch Abortion, they’re on Amphetamine Reptile Records and um, Buildings and Strange, and they’re uh, local bands that we really look up to that are really amazing bands.  And then we’re playing with um Animal Lover, they’re kind of blowing up right now, they’re from here in Minneapolis, and New Wave Hookers – I guess talked about them a little bit before.  They’re like an up and coming post-noise industrial like punk band, they’re really fucking cool.  They’re all super young and it’s really awesome, they’re like nineteen…

Joram:  Yeah, they’re like nineteen…

Jeff:  Yeah they’re like nineteen years old and they have like ‘X’s on their hands when they play shows, you know…  But um, I’m really looking forward to, we’re all like super excited about playing that Total Fest ‘cause Wolf Eyes are headlining.

Joram: Wolf Eyes is fucking sweet!

Jeff:  Yeah Wolf Eyes is fucking amazing and um, we’re really excited about that and we have some other local stuff coming up but um, our shows, we’re just playing, we’re just really excited about the shows that are coming up, so.

Joram:  I just wanna go to towns where we’ve met bands that have come through Minneapolis that we’ve seen that we really liked.  Like I would really like to go to Seattle and play with this band called Haunted Horses, they’re fucking sweet.

Jeff:  Yeah, they’re great.  Definitely check them out. 

Joram:  Or on the other side of the country our buddy’s in this band called Pile, that band is fucking sweet!  They live in Boston and…

Jeff:  Yeah those dudes are fucking awesome, Pile's really cool too, yeah we played with KEN Mode and those guys are great and their bands great too and....yeah, hopefully we get to play with them again too, that was really amazing.

Jeff:  Or the other band that was on that show, Inter Arma those guys are cool as shit.  They’re all really nice guys, they were fun to hang out with and play with…

For the record, Gay Witch Abortion is awesome by the way!

Jeff:  Hell yeah, they’re like one of the best punk acts in town right now for sure, definitely.

They slay, they definitely slay…

Jeff:  I’ve seen them like so many millions of times and it fucking never gets old and there’s always a shit ton of people at their shows.

Joram:  Slay is an understatement (laughs).  Even when they’re guitar player broke his fucking leg and he had to play in a wheelchair it was amazing!

Jeff:  It was still good, it was like, you played in a fucking wheelchair, you blew everyone away.  It was fucking amazing!

We’ve covered all of my questions, is there anything you all kinda want to take this opportunity to talk about before we sign off, or anything?

Jeff:  I just want to say Minneapolis right now, is like fucking blowing my mind with our local scene right now and it’s very cool and I hope that more people take notice like of what’s going on here.

Joram:  It’s very encouraging to live in a city where there’s so many bands that you can be friends with and like their music.  ‘Cause it would be really disappointing if there were a bunch of cool guys that were in bands and they all sucked.  But we have the privilege of having a shit ton of really god bands with likeminded musicians that just want to have a good time and we get to hang out with those dudes and…

Jeff:  Very talented.  I mean I think there’s something going on right now.  I think we’re kinda lucky to be in this scene right now in this point and time.

Joram:   This Total Fest Blog article about us playing, the whole thing is pretty much just about how there are so many sweet bands from Minneapolis that are playing Total Fest this year.

Jeff:  Yeah, it’s cool someone took notice of that.
Joram:  Something about, there must be something in the water here...other than snow and beer. (laughs)

Jeff: Yeah, other than like snow and beer. (laughs)  But I gotta go to work man.  It was awesome meeting you I’m glad I got to talk in this interview, thank you so much.  We’ll um…

Joram:  Quit touching my arm!

Jeff:  (laughing)  We’ll um, make you a, we’ll send you a tape just send us your address and stuff like that so…

Righteous man!  Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to us!

Jeff:  Yeah man, absolutely man.  Thank you.

Cool man, before we sign off since you talked a little bit about the scene dude do you want to give the readers a list of anybody that they should for sure be checking out?

Joram:  Oh shit, absolutely.

Jeff:  We’ll just send you a list of bands…

Joram:  Just rattle off some bands, you’ve got thirty seconds.

Both:  Gay Witch Abortion, Buildings, New Wave Hookers, Animal Lover, um, The Blind Shake, France Camp, Wage Theft, Disasteratti, Mrs.  Mrs is fucking awesome, Pallex, Jeff’s other band which is heavy shoegaze. 

Jeff: But I uh, I gotta go to work man!  Allright, I gotta go dude…

Joram:  And now here I am alone…

Jeff:  See you Joram.

Joram:  Bye Jeff, love you.

Jeff:  Love you too Joram… (laughing)

I love you too Jeff (laughing) Is there anything else that you want to cover or anything?  I know I kind of already asked but…

Joram:  Um, I don’t know I’m really and at this kind of thing.  This is the first interview over the phone, or Skype or whatever that I‘ve done (laughs).  Most people don’t care about what I have to say, and I don’t’ really have a lot to say so…

Piss on that!  You’re at least funny to listen to, that’s more than I can say for most people!

Joram:  Well, we’re just a bunch of, dudes, that like to hang out and have a good time.  We don’t really take anything seriously except for music.  Kinda like, let’s say Interpol, the reason they all wear suits is ‘cause that band was the only thing they took seriously, so they dressed up for it.  We don’t wear suits, but the music’s the only thing we take seriously.  Outside of that we just kinda fuck around, so…

Sounds like a good mantra…

Joram:  It’s not bad!  It’s pretty good, it’s pretty fun.  The hangovers suck, but whatever… Just start drinking again, it’ll fix the problem! (laughs)

Exclusive Videos

(2013)  Ex Nuns – “Dead of Zero” b/w “Crash Meditation” – Digital, 7” – 25 Diamonds Records (Limited to 300 copies on random colored vinyl)
(2014)  Ex Nuns – Death Triangle EP – Digital, Cassette Tape – Self-Released

By Andrew Kurtz

Interview made by Roman Rathert/2014
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