| Band: Avenpitch|
Interviewer: Julie Johnson
Where Avenpitch's self-titled debut stabbed a thrash-metal knife through the heart of New Wave, the band's follow-up LP, Butterfly Radio (Omega Point Records), breaks out the chainsaw. Anchored by its unforgettable title track, Butterfly Radio finds Avenpitch moving even farther towards both extremes. Guitars and synthesizers push recklessly into the red, as if the band were trying to blow a fuse or crash their hard drive, yet the songwriting remains laser-focused, with every hook and shout-along chorus precisely arranged for maximum pop effect. Had the Sex Pistols grown up listening to the Happy Mondays and New Order, instead of the other way around, Butterfly Radio could very well be the result.-www.avenpitch.com
GC: "Butterfly Radio", can you explain what this all about? Is there a meaning to it?
Todd: Over in India there is a collective of orphans who, as a way of getting their message out, spend their free time making audio recordings of their own "radio shows". When the market is busy they bring their audiocassettes and a loudspeaker into town square and blast their "radio shows" throughout the streets. They call their radio show "Butterfly Radio".
GC: How would you describe your vocal style or approach that can be heard on Butterfly Radio?
Todd: A spoken, shouted, singing-type thing. I don't think - correct that, I know - I'm never gonna win a Grammy for best-vocal performances, but I think my voice has the vibe and character necessary for the music of Avenpitch. I don't think there's much middle ground to it; either you love it or your hate it. I'm guessing if our songs were a tad less quirky or my voice was a bit smoother we'd probably have a little more mass-appeal, but then again, I'd probably lose the interest and passion in our music.
To be honest, I got into singing more just because I was a songwriter and every time I had someone else sing my songs there was this weird level of detachment to it (i.e. the song didn't feel like mine anymore). So from then on I decided that I had to do it myself or there would be no point in even doing it. Thankfully, with every record my voice gets stronger and a bit better (Butterfly Radio is my eighth record as a vocalist).
GC: What is it like when everyone in the band brings ideas to the studio, especially during the making of Butterfly Radio?
Todd: For the most part, the process was pretty organic. Usually, I wrote the skeleton of the song and brought some sequences and riffs into practice. Together we'd jam around on different ideas and everyone would chime in with suggestions. In some cases - like "Dusseldorf" - we'd spend a couple weeks completely reworking the arrangement from ground up and others - such as "Disposable Pop Song" - the song was pretty much written and everyone would just lay down their parts on top of what was already there. I'd bring home what we worked on, refine it and then bring it back the next week and we'd do it all over again. Obviously, this isn't the quickest way to get the record done, but it was important to get everybody involved and contributing to this album.
GC: Now that the CD is out, what captures your attention and fascinates you about it?
Todd: I like the recurring themes and musical ideas that sort of worked their way into this record. In every record I've done there always seems to be a lyrical theme linking one song to another. I doubt other people would pick up on it, but it makes sense to me. This time I took it a step further and buried parts and sounds from one song into another. For example, the stopwatch sound effect shows up in a couple tunes. Also the lead-in guitar part of "Butterfly Radio" reappears in the pre-chorus of "Tumbleweeds". Like I said, there are a lot of little things hidden in there that the music geek in me really enjoys, but I don't expect anyone to pick up on. Nevertheless, it keeps me interested.
GC: How do you manage all the different styles of music within your new CD?
Todd: I think lots of it comes from taking our time with songs and letting them develop naturally. If we were to record songs right after they were written I think our influences would shine through much more obviously. For instance, the original chord progression for the song "Butterfly Radio" [Dm Am Cadd 9 / Dm Am G] I wrote right after I spoke with a friend whose dad had just been diagnosed with cancer and only had six months to live. I was listening to The The's "Love Is Stronger Than Death" and obviously was pretty bummed out to hear about this so I wrote a very sad sounding progression. However, after the initial emotion wore off, I pulled out that chord change again, sped it up and came up with the Bananarama-ish lead line on the top of it. I think it creates a weird tension in the track and helps keep things sounding interesting and not so one-dimensional. My goal - not that I'm always successful - is to juxtapose different perspectives like this in all Avenpitch tracks.
GC: What would you consider the most notable part of your music sound?
Todd: Personally, I feel it's the songwriting and the uniqueness of our presentation. For better or worse, I like to tell people that the only place you're going to get music that sounds like Avenpitch is from Avenpitch.
GC: I know how people hate labels, what would you label your music?
Todd: For all intents and purposes I call it "electropunk".
GC: Will Avenpitch be appearing on any new compilations in the next few months?
Todd: Funny you should mention that, our song "Jack the Idiot Dance" was originally written for a record of children's music coming out over in Germany. It's called "Kinderglück" and will be released by We Rock Like Crazy sometime in 2006. I will also be compiling "Twin Cities Electropunk Volume 3" this summer and Avenpitch will have a new track on that as well.
GC: Has Avenpitch inspired other bands to make this type of sound that has more of a cyber-industrial, punk feel?
Todd: At this point it's doubtful - I'm still far too inspired by so many other amazing bands to even think about being an inspiration to others. That's an honor I would bestow on NIN, Primal Scream, Big Black, Blur, Prick, Pig, Ministry, Lard, The The, Pop Will Eat Itself, Smashing Pumpkins, New Order or the Faint just to name a few. Really the only thing I'm comfortable taking credit for is the expansion of the "electropunk" term catching on in Minneapolis. To the best of my knowledge, when we released our first album in June of 2003 we were the only band in Minneapolis claiming to be "electropunk". Now there is a pretty notable "electropunk scene" happening in Minneapolis. It's pretty cool to see a term from out first press release turning into a genre in and of itself around here. That said, I'm sure 99% of that came from the popularity of the "Twin Cities Electropunk" compilations I organize and not an actual musical influence from Avenpitch.
GC: What is your big push for Avenpitch in the next few months?
Todd: We'll be working "Butterfly Radio" pretty hard from now until summer. We've got two big CD release shows in Minneapolis at the end of the month, a couple regional tours for the spring and then we'll be touring nationally in May and June. Then starting this summer we're back to work on album three in between regional live shows (we're already shooting for a June 2007 release date).
GC: Is there anything else you would like to add for our readers who may discover you now because they are reading this interview?
Todd: Millions of thanks for taking the time to check us out. If you see us in a town near you please come out to a show and introduce yourself. If you like us and think we're friendly enough people, please offer us a floor or couch to sleep on. It's really awkward trying to work that into a conversation and motels get expensive.
Also, thanks for listening!
|< Prev||Next >|