(blouseusa) | Interview | New Album, ‘Lurking Godforce’

Uncategorized July 10, 2024

(blouseusa) | Interview | New Album, ‘Lurking Godforce’

Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy’s creative moniker, (blouseusa), is an intriguing output known for its distinctive features and consistent improvisational flair.

His upcoming album, ‘Lurking Godforce’ is an album where he collaborated with a diverse ensemble to reimagine his earlier works through full-band improvisations. It features full-band, improvised interpretations of selected tracks from the (blouseusa) discography. Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy curated a unique ensemble and granted each member creative freedom in their interpretations. The album was recorded live with minimal prior discussion or rehearsal. ‘Lurking Godforce’ will be out July 12th on Drongo Tapes.

“The source sounds are nearly always improvised”

Would you like to talk a bit about your background?

Benjamin Thomas-Kennedy: I’m not sure what there is to tell. I grew up in Los Angeles. My family is Evangelists on one side and artists on the other. I came to Washington State at 13 and was pretty bummed about it. These days I still struggle to find somewhere better, so here I am.

How did you first get involved with music? Tell us about your previous projects.

We didn’t have a stereo growing up, but my mom made me learn to play drums, which I eventually started doing in church. When I left home, I joined a spastic mathgrind band called The Abodox, which led to decades of metal drumming, most notably with LESBIAN (the band) and Fungal Abyss.

The album ‘Stimulus Overinclusion’ is described as painting a dark and absurd portrait of fundamentalism. Could you elaborate on the inspiration behind this concept and how it influenced the creation of the album?

My family views homosexuality and fluid gender identity as sin. Me and nearly everyone dear to me are queer as hell, so it’s been a real problem. And it’s so fucking stupid.

The use of antique and vintage instruments is intriguing. How did these instruments shape the sound and atmosphere of the album? What motivated the decision to incorporate them?

With (blousesusa), I use what is within arm’s reach. The instrument selection, like most of the process, is compulsive. My mom used to deal antiques and would give me old-timey instruments every Christmas. So that’s often what clutters my space and thus my recordings. It keeps things sounding disconcerting, and that’s important to me.

Could you walk us through your creative process for this album? How did improvisation, composition, and sound collage interact during the creation of the tracks?

I usually start with some weed and a loose intention, then make a bunch of racket for a while with whatever is around. Then I spend months slicing it up and polishing turds until something meaningful comes out. The source sounds are nearly always improvised. Mixing and editing tend to be where the composition is.

You’ve worked with Mell Dettmer for mastering, known for her work with Sunn O))) and Boris. How did her expertise contribute to shaping the final sound of ‘Stimulus Overinclusion’?

Mell understands the science of sound. I don’t. I give her these recordings to clean up the frequencies and make sure my mess is as crystal clear as can be. She’s not afraid of how weird it is, and she always makes things sound incredible. I like the idea of having gourmet icing on a cheap messy cake.

The album seems to explore complex themes. What was the overarching artistic vision you had in mind while crafting the music and lyrics?

I do most of my content processing and meaning-making after the fact. I want to capture as much subconscious information as possible without my meddling intent getting in the way. By day, I am an Art Therapist, so I have far more interest in exploration and discovery than in the meticulous, intentional presentation of known themes and ideas.

You have a new album out. What was the concept behind ‘Lurking Godforce’? Would you be able to compare it with your previous release?

‘Lurking Godforce’ is essentially full-band improvised interpretations of some of my favorite tracks from the (blouseusa) discography. I put together a unique team of players and let everyone interpret the work however they wanted. We tracked it live together with very little discussion or rehearsal. I’d say it’s much more “listenable” than other (blouseusa) records, but I’m not sure I’m the best person to ask about what “listenable” means.

What was it like working with Jim Davis, Brad Dunn, Allison Eltrich, and Eric Padget?

Jim and Allison play with me in another band called Shitty Person, so I knew how easily they’d be able to lock into the material. Those two are masters at what they do and a true pleasure to work with. Brad I have known for decades, and I’ve wanted to collaborate with him forever. I’m so glad it finally happened; I’m such a huge fan of his work. Eric happened to be on a bill with us when we tried it live for the first time. We asked him to sit in with us and liked it so much, its still happening. He ended up engineering the album.

Can you share some further words about the recording and production process?

Jim and I mixed it ourselves, which was new. I’ve mixed the previous (blouseusa) releases except for ‘Tubs,’ which Dave Abramson mixed. ‘Lurking’ and ‘Tubs’ are full-band albums, so mixing is a whole different thing. With sound collages and bleeps and bloops, mistakes in mixes become artful choices. With band stuff, there is a lot more room to screw things up in a way that just sucks. I definitely made things hard for Jim and Mell, cluttering up the whole process with my ignorance. I hope it pays off as perplexing novelty for the listener.

Are you involved in any other bands or do you have any active side-projects going on at this point?

I also play with somesurprises and the aforementioned Shitty Person. And I pop up now and then with Fungal Abyss and T.R.O.U.T., both of which currently have new records slowly trudging through the mixing process.

Let’s end this interview with some of your favorite albums.

I get a lot of flack for saying so, but I don’t really listen to recorded music much. I saw some good live music while touring with somesurprises last month, though, a highlight being Garden of Evil Doers in Rochester, NY.

Thank you for taking your time. The last word is yours.

The new album ‘Lurking Godforce’ will be out July 12th on Drongo Tapes. We will be playing an album release show at the Black Lodge in Seattle on July 22nd with Terminator and Diminished Men.

Klemen Breznikar

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Drongo Tapes Facebook / Instagram / Bandcamp

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