‘The Matter’ by Products Band | Interview | New Album, ‘Some Sudden Weather’

Uncategorized October 4, 2023

‘The Matter’ by Products Band | Interview | New Album, ‘Some Sudden Weather’

Exclusive video premiere of ‘The Matter’ by Products Band taken from the upcoming album, ‘Some Sudden Weather,’ out October 20th via Solid Brass Records.

‘Some Sudden Weather’ finds Products Band sharpening their focus on presence of mind in a culture of noise. Sure, what else is new, another rock record detailing this late-capitalist hellhole, blah blah blah — but then it hits you. This record refuses to default to post-punk tropes of obliqueness, intellectual box-checking, or emotional alienation. Instead, they strike a balance between critique and sincerity with stunning grace on their sophomore effort. For each pummeling wave of distorted guitars, a tender, melodic vocal floats over its crest. With every winking, deadpan lyric comes a genuine admission of desire, shame, or hope. Products Band embraces the literary traditions of their influences while telling their stories on their terms. We may spend our days scrolling through conjecture about impending doom, but they angle their songwriting toward capturing conscious experiences: maintaining intimacy under the chokehold of professional life, trying to heal with humility, and confronting Carl Jung know-it-alls who misread their big-britching as sullen sex appeal.

These songs in sequence create a striking mosaic, and faithfully represent the diversity of Products Band’s musical influences. From high-energy, airtight punk’n’roll to intricate, groove-driven pop, Some Sudden Weather refreshes rock vocabularies by sculpting them within the band’s unique perspective. Whether you crave dancefloor-ready bass hooks, spiderwebbed guitar skronk, interwoven vocal duets, hell, even melodies sung by a busted toy Casio, Products Band delivers. An essential listen for all fans of contemporary post-punk, guitar pop, and thoughtful Midwestern charm.

‘Some Sudden Weather’ will be available on limited edition Coke-Bottle-clear vinyl and download on October 20th via Solid Brass Records. Pre-orders are available HERE.

Photo by Juliet Farmer

“We aimed (and still aim) to make guitar music that captured the hypermediated present we lived (and still live) in”

Would love to hear about your background and initial influences. Tell us about the local scene and how that shaped who you became today.

All of us have participated in the Minnesota music scene in one way or another since around 2012. Konner and Jack played together in Frankie Teardrop, Alex had their solo band, and Jo played in The Florists. Alex and Konner got together in 2016 to work on some of Alex’s demos (which would become 2018’s ‘On The Dotted Line’), and started gigging as Products. Funnily enough, The Florists ended up playing their first show at a goofy DIY spot with a very nice kitchen called Hamm’s Mansion.

We all mutually admired each other’s work and came up in a scene that was bursting with weirdo music. There was Tony Peachka (surfy, Bratmobile-adjacent, whipsmart and wildly fun), Uranium Club (mysterious, hilarious, face-melting), The Controversial New Skinny Pill (funky, made people say “Frank Zappa,” h y p n a g o g i c pop), and tons of other acts trying to push boundaries sonically as well as representationally. We were lucky to hang around and, in many cases, share bills with groups that simultaneously thought critically about what it meant to be on stage and made that event an utter blast to behold.

As far as Products Band’s specific influences, we aimed (and still aim) to make guitar music that captured the hypermediated present we lived (and still live) in. We try to represent our relationship to the world through guitar textures, lyrics which range from the grandiose/political to the granular/personal, and intricately interlocked grooves. Like any artistic collaboration, it’s a negotiation of our mutual interests and we’d say that watching us live is mainly a demonstration of our friendship. Our goal is to share that with you in as entertaining of a structure as possible – hopefully, it gets you to think about how recognizable signifiers of identity, industry, and human catharsis relate within the mess of our contemporary world. Also, blah, blah, blah we like the late ‘70s NYC scene, ‘80s-‘90s rock/punk/americana, Jo shares their January birthday with Michael Stipe and Alex with Jim O’Rourke.

Your brand new album is out this month, how long did you work on it and how much effort and time went into it? How did you end up with Solid Brass Records?

We pieced it together from late 2020 all the way through the recording process in Winter 2022-2023. Creating an LP is always a huge labor of love and we spent month after month arranging songs, crafting specific sounds, and determining which edits would make the cut. It was truly a joy working with Zach Hollander at The Pearl Recording Studio in Minneapolis – he made the process very smooth and fun.

Jason Pearson, a co-founder of Solid Brass Records, got exposed to our music on Spotify before we ever knew each other. He became a fan, reached out to us, and we had a fun back-and-forth DM on Instagram for a couple years. Eventually, things picked up with the label and he thought we’d fit in. They’ve been wonderful to work with and extremely supportive of us.

Where did you record it? Was the process any different from the previous release?

The Pearl Recording Studio in Minneapolis! It was definitely different – we tracked our debut record, ‘Pink Puma,’ live in the studio and used those tracks as our basics. Zach set up Konner and Jack in the basement of this garage (the floor is still gravel) with a fabricated wood platform that has carpet stapled to the floor, walls, and ceiling. Konner drummed in a truly DIY carpet chamber and it sounded fantastic. We’d play through the song with Alex and I on the floor above Konner and Jack, keep the drum performance, and then added bass and guitars later.

Since we separated all the instruments, we didn’t have to deal with bleeds in individual tracks and had much more control during the editing process. As a result, ‘Some Sudden Weather’ is crisper, tighter, and our most hi-fi release to date. We’re stoked! We also took much more time with this record – we finished ‘Pink Puma’ in a little under two days. This album took us several months to complete recording.

What about songwriting, do you feel you approached it differently? It all started in your apartment…

Is that a Lifter Puller reference? If so, nice. (Alex actually lived in Craig Finn’s old apartment in Northeast, Minneapolis and found out by way of once receiving some business mail for Lifter Puller. Ha.)

Products Band works on songs collaboratively. Usually Jo or Alex comes in with the skeleton of a song (guitar plus vocal idea) and then we work it out in rehearsals. We’ll record a rough demo, add parts in a DAW at home or play along with a phone recording, and the song emerges! Occasionally, one of us will really lead a song and make a detailed demo at home that the band plays off of, but even in these cases the group determines the final feel.

“Relationship changes, professional changes, a global pandemic, you name it”

Tell us about the songs and inspirations for it. Which one is your favourite?

This record was composed over a big period of upheaval for all of us. Relationship changes, professional changes, a global pandemic, you name it: we’re all very different people than we were when ‘Pink Puma’ was recorded. ‘Some Sudden Weather’ details those personal changes through play, social consciousness, and (that’s right) RIFFS! We’re not a totally different band, just one that’s been through the ringer like everyone else. As far as how that extends to the music itself, we don’t go into the process of writing looking to just scratch a familiar itch, thinking, ‘okay time for a dozen more songs from Products Band’. Instead we understand the challenge of writing a new album to be an opportunity to maybe shape-shift and grow a bit, reflect who/where we are in that moment, and maybe drop a few hints of where we hope to go next. Hopefully folks hear that searching quality and see themselves in this record the way we do. We really love the record from top to bottom, and do see a lot of the songs as natural extensions of our previous work, but with a clear elevation in terms of the sophistication of the songs’ production, and a new sense of emotional clarity and directness.

Alex has said that album opener ‘Shell Text’ could maybe be thought of as the “album in miniature” – in terms of how the song pushes into a little more adventurous territory with its composition and production flourishes (field recordings, multiple guitar plus drum overdubs, subtle synth, organ), while staying grounded with our bedrock musical instincts (back-and-forth vocal play, spiky post-punk guitar riffs, strong and nimble bass playing, aerobic plus inventive drum work). You can hear similar qualities on a song like ‘Dead (But Not Like Me)’ where we took what could be a relatively straightforward (at least for us), post-punky rock song, and elevated it with drum pad samples, vocal filters, et cetera. Same can be said for ‘Reclined Derealized 2022’ (one of Jo’s favorites) or ‘Count To Ten’ (“by far” Jack’s favorite song on the record). Almost every song pushes into some kind of new territory for us, but maybe the most radical departures from what we’ve done before are the songs ‘Warped Page’ and ‘Sun Turned Over’. Again, pretty conventional song structures at the core of each of those songs, but in being a bit more patient with the writing and recording we were able to really build fresh sonic landscapes around them and commit to record a pair of songs that slow down the tempo and take their time in delivering the emotional punch. ‘Warped Page’ is probably the most unabashedly romantic song we’ve put out and could reasonably be referred to as a “woozy ballad,” whereas ‘Sun Turned Over’ is like Products Band’s version of Neil Young & Crazy Horse doing one of their desperate Dark Night of the Soul jams.

Photo by Juliet Farmer

Tell us about the gear, effects, pedals et cetera you have in the band

Nothing wild, really! We’re more of a “songs” band. We love effects-heavy stuff, don’t get us wrong, but we spend a lot more time thinking about arrangements, lyrics, and inflections we affect on our voices/instruments. Jo, Alex, and Jack use overdrive pedals, choruses, delays (some digital, some reproducing tape aesthetics), distortions, et cetera. Konner is starting to introduce a drum pad to our live set, so sampling drum machines/found sounds is creeping its way into our vibe.

‘Some Sudden Weather’ features a lot of Fender amps/guitars. Alex recorded most of their lines with a Roland JC40. Jack used her Gretsch hollow-body bass and an old, busted Italia Mondial that sounded wild through a Peavey head. Konner plays a four-piece Ludwig Hollywood kit from the ‘70s.

What are your tour plans around the record?

We’ll be doing Midwest dates in November! Come check us out! If you want us to come to your city, feel free to email us or Solid Brass.

Nov. 3 Sioux Falls @ TBD
Nov. 4 Omaha @ The Foxhole
Nov. 5 Kansas City @ Howdy
Nov. 9 Eau Claire @ The Barnacle
Nov. 10 Milwaukee @ Promises
Nov. 11 Detroit @ Outer Limits Lounge
Nov. 13 Chicago @ The Empty Bottle

What’s next for the Products Band?

More songs, more touring, more shiny new objects for you to buy.

Photo by Juliet Farmer

Let’s end this interview with some of your favourite albums. Have you found something new lately you would like to recommend to our readers?

Jo would like you to listen to ‘Brighten the Corners’ by Pavement if you never have. As far as a new record, they’re particularly fond of ‘s’ by They Are Gutting a Body of Water. Jack unfortunately doesn’t seek out new releases, and has had AFI’s ‘Sing The Sorrow’ on heavy rotation since its 20th anniversary earlier this year. Konner has lately been into some wildly talented bands coming out of Chicago including Lifeguard (check out their new EP ‘Dressed in Trenches)’. Horsegirl and Sharp Pins are also in that scene. Yo La Tengo and Guerilla Toss are always in rotation too. Alex counts Wilco’s ‘A Ghost Is Born’ amongst their favorite records of all time. Maybe #1. In terms of new releases, they recommend ‘When Horses Would Run’ by Being Dead, ‘Sundial’ by Noname, and the upcoming ‘Goodbye, Hotel Arkada’ by Mary Lattimore, which they are certain will be great.

Klemen Breznikar

Headline photo: Juliet Farmer

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