Brandon Williams, the man behind the curtain that is Whitby, Ontario band Chastity, has been hitting it hard in the last couple years. Chastity covers all bases with their sound. “Die From My Mind,” the b-side of 2017’s Peroxide 7”, is a melodic anthem that grows to a booming wash of guitars, yet the maniacal guitar stylings on “Chains,” the title track from their 2017 EP, are reminiscent of the heyday of Seattle grunge. Somehow, in this torrent of creativity, Williams has still found the time to run barn shows in rural Ashburn, ON.
Chastity is now gearing up to release its debut full-length release, Death Lust—and AdHoc was fortunate enough to get the chance to premiere their video for “Heaven Hell Anywhere Else,” a melodic anthem about tempting fate and living to tell about it. Over calmly distorted guitar chords, we follow a dangerous trio. A cowboyed up version of Williams slinks through the countryside with two western-styled women. The chorus hits with a classically inspired yet fuzzed-up melody. One of the crew puts a bag over her head as the others glide their fingers over glass and lighter flames. Flowers are lain on an empty street before the bodies of cops are dragged into a church and set aflame. After these acts, the trio heads to a fair to get their minds away from what they have just done as the chorus repeats, eventually falling into the sea of distortion.
"'Heaven Hell Anywhere Else' is the most death-dreaming song on the record,” Williams told AdHoc over email. “I’ve been reading about how chemical our pleasure and happiness is. The feeling of pleasure just being dopamine, happiness serotonin. ‘Who laced my days with pain?’ I’m talking about imbalance of these things and feeling caught on the other side as though a God, someone or something, may be culpable. But, maybe it’s just these chemicals that hold that massive power over us: ‘Serotonin don’t let me go.’
Chicago natives Deeper are a patient and dedicated bunch. They spent almost two years holed up in their practice space, crafting their self-titled debut with friend and engineer Dave Vettraino, who has worked with Melkbelly and Damien Jurado. The result is a jangly post-punk treasure, shimmery gold and all. Nic Gohl’s lyrics hit on existential quandaries and pushing to get more out of life. Gohl’s smooth yet commanding voice hovers over his and Mike Clawson’s tangle of erratic, slippery guitars. Drew McBride’s bass playing supports the mass of shine and noise as Shiraz Bhatti’s percussive stylings hop along with the group, keeping everyone’s ducks in a row.
AdHoc recently caught up with Deeper to discuss their inspirations, their favorite Chicago digs, and tracking food deliveries. Grab a copy of Deeper via Fire Talk Records.
What’s your practice space like?
Nic Gohl: It’s an old Frank Lloyd Wright building. But it looks like something out of Hostel or one of the Saw movies. So, not very pretty.
Drew McBride: I think it used to be a Polish sausage factory. You can Google it. E-Z Polish Sausage.
Your self-titled debut is coming out in May on Fire Talk Records. Can you tell me a bit about the album?
Nic: The album is a collection of songs from the past 2 or so years that we slowly recorded in our practice space with our old friend and longtime collaborator, Dave.
Drew: He’s like one of our best friends. He’s a collaborator, he’s my roommate...
Nic: Mostly his roommate [laughs]. Dave Vettraino.
Drew: But yea, he’s also recorded some other Chicago bands like Melkbelly who’s playing Pitchfork this year. In my opinion the record has like some pretty diverse sounds just as a result of us all learning how to play together over that time.
Shiraz Bhatti: We actually did “Pink Showers” and our first single that we dropped in 2016, “Transmogrified,” in Dave’s basement. Then we decided to demo out the record in our practice space, and we were really surprised at how things worked out, so we spent the next year and a half taking weekends here and there to finish it off.
I first encountered Naked Giants two years ago. The raucous Seattle trio came through my hometown on a break from tour, and ended up opening a show at the local watering hole. I showed up at the request of a mutual friend and — let me tell you — I was absolutely stuck on Grant Mullen’s energy as he slammed the pick into his guitar strings and whipped his head around. Gianni Aiello’s lanky figure towered over the crowd as he played bass and lifted his legs like he was marching. And Henry Lavallee’s drum playing was absolutely spot-on, a big grin on his face the whole time.
Recently, AdHoc gave Naked Giants a ring during a few days off from their tour supporting — and playing as the backing band for — Car Seat Headrest. We spoke about cheesy van jams and Vitamin RBY. Make sure to see them at Alphaville on May 10, and be sure to grab their latest, Sluff, over at New West Records.
Can you tell me a bit about your new album, SLUFF?
Grant Mullen: We took “Easy Eating” from [our EP] RIP. The rest of the songs were just collected when we started working with a label. We sent them all of our demos and stuff. We had an idea of what the track listing would be and then we just negotiated and compromised with them and found what we thought would be a good album.
Gianni Aiello: As far as context or meaning of the album, as Grant said, they are all just songs that we’ve been playing or writing over the last couple years. I feel like this album is kind of more just us learning how to put an album together more than anything else. It’s not like we were going in with any sort of mission; we were just kind of throwing the songs down because that’s what time required of us.
Grant: We wanted to make a pop album. That’s also part of it. We were like, let’s make this first one appeal to the masses as much as possible. So we were down with that and then we were able to just let it happen and take input from the label because we figured they knew what kind of songs would [work].
I’ve seen Baltimore natives Ed Schrader’s Music Beat many times over the years and have always been captivated by their unique brand of euphoric alt-rock. I remember when Ed would play a floor tom with a can light underneath, giving himself a creepy, ghostly look. Ed told AdHoc he “play[s] the drums the way Bowie plays the saxophone: it’s a hobby!”
Ed has since given up playing the floor tom, but Devlin Rice has been solidly plucking the bass the whole time. With their new album, Riddles, Devlin has started writing guitar parts, synth parts, and other arrangements. This is their most theatrical and well-conceived release to date. Yet, it still retains the same pureness and honesty of their earlier work. They’ve shown they are just as willing to experiment and play with their style as they are to crack jokes and have an amusing time. Between Ed’s “Frasier Pic O’ The Day” antics on Instagram, the “Cats on the Lake” shirts and totes, and the band’s passionate stage presence, it’s hard to get bored when you’re keeping tabs on this act.
Taylor Mulitz, guitarist and vocalist of DC post-punk group Flasher, likes a challenge. Whether it’s building a darkroom in his parents’ basement or stretching his time between music, school, a day job, and freelance design, his hands are consistently full. AdHoc was lucky enough to catch a moment with the former Priests bassist to talk about this issue’s cover, an abstract piece that grew out of working on the art for an upcoming Flasher release. You can catch Flasher at AdHoc’s unofficial SxSW Showcase in Austin, Texas on March 14.
AdHoc: What got you into design?
Taylor Mulitz: It started out in high school. Mostly because I didn’t want to take a science class anymore, I did double AP Art. I was really into trying to figure out how to make band t-shirts, so I would watch a bunch of YouTube tutorials. I tried to make a really crappy darkroom in the bathroom in my basement, and I stained my parents’ floors. My dad got really upset. So I started designing to make my own t-shirts, and then I went to art school after I graduated high school.
Where did you go?
First I went to Parsons, in New York, and I did two years there. I ended up transferring to MICA, in Baltimore, because I was just too broke to live in New York City. I did a year there, and then I dropped out because I was too busy doing Priests stuff and was getting terrible grades and it became a waste of money and time. So I have three years of graphic design undergrad, but no degree to show for it.
Your style is very angular, reminiscent of tattoo flash, and there are also some TV static elements to your work. What inspires you?
I definitely like bold graphic design. A lot of heavy-handed typography is what I’m into. I definitely was into illustrating more flash kind of stuff, but I’ve leaned away from that in the past few years. A lot of what I’ve been working on recently is collage-based, a lot of halftones, that static kind of thing. The stuff I’ve been designing is being printed by silkscreen, so that kind of shapes the decisions I make. I’ve been looking at a lot of paintings recently and drawing inspiration from that. Right now, I’m into Paul Klee, David Hockney, Jacob Lawrence, Ellsworth Kelly, Stuart Davis, and Madelon Vriesendorp.
You were in Priests. You’re in Flasher. How do you juggle all that with your day job and your freelance design work?
Well, I’m no longer in Priests, so I’ve just been focusing on Flasher since August. It just became a thing where it was hard to do two full-time bands. Flasher has some music coming out soon. Getting ready to release anything new is always a lot, and I’ve been working on the art for that, too; I think I spent a month and a half on it. The AdHoc cover actually came from an illustrative experiment that I did that ended up not working for the release. I made a bunch of stuff that I was into [while trying to figure the art out], so it was cool to have the opportunity to use some of it.
San Francisco punks Spiritual Cramp are deeply connected to home. You can hear the influence of the original Bay Area punk sound within their songs, which are all honesty and no bullsit. They recently channeled their California roots and made a playlist for AdHoc. "The people in Spiritual Cramp listen to a ton of different music which comes through in many ways that go beyond our songs," the band told AdHoc. "Inspiration is a funny thing that appears in all kinds of shapes and forms not limited to sound. With that said, here is a playlist of songs from California artists who inspire us to keep creating."
Brendon Avalos, the bassist and vocalist of Brooklyn rock band B Boys, has given us a present with solo effort Gift Wrap. “Either Way,” the first single from his upcoming full-length, Losing Count, is a no wave gem. The percussion is gleaming, a shimmery metallic base for the blanket of synths and vocals he weaves overtop. He chants the chorus like it's a mantra, the repetition reflecting the song's inward-looking gaze: "Self-reflection, dissent is normal."
“The song is about trying to understand yourself better through meditation," Avalos told AdHoc via email. "I took some drugs that messed with my head, so I started meditation as more of a restorative thing, and then kept pursuing it because it really helped with some other anxiety-related problems I was experiencing. This song in particular is more of an ode to how meditation was really helping me through some stuff at the time.”
Philly natives (and Eagles fans) Dark Blue are gearing up for their next seven-inch release, out February 23rd on 12XU. The A-side, “Fight to Love," feels like a dark cloud after a drought, a much-needed cleansing. Over a steady beat and melodic fuzz, Singer and guitarist John Sharkey narrates a tricky love/hate relationship with a gentrifying Philadelphia. Toward the end, the underlying wash of guitars gives way to a beautiful acoustic rendition of the tune, picking back up and reiterating the song's central message: “You shouldn’t have come here.”
“Philadelphia is a great city but it’s being overrun by developers with tax abatements and snobs from the outer suburbs," Sharkey told AdHoc via email. "This song is a direct response to all the muppets who move from what might as well be Iowa and complain when we have a parade for the city’s most beloved sports team because their kids (I mean dogs) won’t be able to get to get to yoga. GO BIRDS!” This reflection on their hometown's current state is an apropos look at the way the things we love change as they grow and morph. Even as our homes begin to change and our old haunts disappear, we still have a love for where we came from.
Big Bliss are speeding into 2018. Named “New York City’s Hardest Working Band of 2017” by Oh My Rockness, they played a whopping 150+ shows last year. On February 2, they're releasing a 7-inch double-single through Exit Stencil Recordings. Their newest music video, “Contact,” is a testament to their ability to plunge you into a dream world with their effects-laden post-punk.
"Contact" is a driving whirl of sound. The pinging guitars perfectly accentuate the shimmering cymbals. The gently insistent timbre of the vocals pulls at you and lulls you into a trance as Tim Race and Wallace May plead, "Give me every moment, give me all your time." The video is gorgeous in its own right. Haze and rich colors engulf the band as the camera cocks from one angle to the next. The band pushes themselves into panes of glass, contorting their lips and noses as if they're trapped. They rub their faces, then rub red and black paint onto the glass.
Over email, guitarist and vocalist Tim Race told AdHoc, “'Contact' is about attachment and anxiety of distance, and how it’s dealt with considering modern communication. In the video, we used a giant piece of plexiglass, paint, and a ton of smoke to gradually obscure the image in between us and the camera to illustrate the idea."
Today, we're excited to debut a track from Casey's new solo project, Greatest Champion Alive, which crystallized during a trying time. The band’s bio reads that Casey “started Greatest Champion Alive while he was recovering from brain tumor surgery last year. The project moved around in different wobbly forms until it all made sense while he was touring in Japan, alone in a hotel room. He put the songs together, sent them to some of the best musicians he knew, and came out the other end ready to blast what he’d been working on." He has now decided to loop us in on the fun.
"Same Light," the first single from Greatest Champion Alive, is a funky pop odyssey that has the potential to become a total earworm, its punchy keys making way for Casey's gentle voice. The song also has strong basslines that keeps the song afloat on a pillow of cloudy grooves. "The more warped I could make the keyboard sound, the further behind the beat the hi-hats were, the better it felt when I’d listen back,” Casey told AdHoc over email. He also gave us some hints about the lyrics: “It’s just about the differences in people but ultimately what ties everyone together in the end. Crazy stuff ya know, lights and things, bing bang bosh.” This song’s warmth and fuzziness will encapsulate you—check it out below.