Saturday, February 14, 2009

Millions of Brazilians: DC Interview; - EP Release Show 2 / 21 - Pike Room (Pontiac)

" many amps, so many pedals..."
(words: milo)

It’s just past noon on a Saturday, and I’m rousing myself with piston-pounding drums and brazenly scorching guitars – a sort of heavy metal dance-rock hybrid to singe the senses and get the ass moving.

I turned my engine off and paused the car stereo – in the middle of “Oh Happy Dagger,” a new song off of the Millions of Brazilians debut EP – Half Horse/Half Horse.

I saunter into the Cass Café, a bit bleary eyed but serene, and settle in with the three board shouldered bucks from Millions of Brazilians; drummer Zoz, (or, “Zozzy” or Christopher Gruse), singer/guitarist Nick Cicchetti and guitarist Derek Dorey. No bass player…well, technically not. We trade off “fifth Beatle” quips about musician/recording engineer Daniel Johnson, who aided the boys in the development of their material in varying forms of board work (over the sound-board or the keyboard). Recovering from the loud mess of last night’s show, we trade off sips of green tea and Bloody Mary’s, discussing the upcoming release of their debut EP, (released Feb 21, at the Pike Room, on Baby Moses Records).

“I think the recording process has been lengthy because we’ve, first of all…funding was a problem,” says Cicchetti, his sleepy eyes framed by a mane of unique combed-and-clipped curls. “When you’re on somebody else’s terms (with recording) there’s back and forth, the production decisions just take more time.” He’s referring to the revolving “team” of engineers who helped record the seven songs on the EP, including Eric Hoegemeyer from Rustbelt Studios, Collin Dupuis (also drummer from Zoos of Berlin) and Daniel Johnson (of Judah Johnson).

Gruse said that the delay also came from inevitable debates and over-thinking: “It’s the first thing we ever put out… What is the best way to present how we sound, is it too heavy? Is it too dancey? After all, we were just like, fuck it…”

“We just wanted as accurate a representation of our live show as possible,” said Dorey, who often brings the song structures (often entirely developed) of these electrified spacey/prog-rock epics (often, also, born from acoustic guitars recorded onto his cell phone).

Listen: "Armenia" mp3

The live show, however, can include the band stripping down to their underwear mid-performance (at least once) and Cicchetti leaping into rafters and breaking bottles mid-song (at some show, while on tour). Indeed. The band (now based in Woodbridge, having grown up in Taylor), have garnered a reputation over their first year-and-a-half of existence for having a stellar, energetic, fiery live show – hence that many ears are anxious to hear how the record holds up…

Where as rafter-climbing/half-naked spontaneity might be one part of their live ravel – the trio stress the tightly wound chemistry, a vitality for “locking in” and holding the rhythm to sustain this see-saw like give-and-take between the dueling guitars of Cicchetti (on the high) and Dorey (on the low) which hangs on the edge-of-a-knife.

“There’s no margin for error,” said Cicchetti, “there’s only 3 of us. Everything has to line right up otherwise it’s not gonna work.”

“We’ve taken this whole year,” said Dorey, “to, basically, figure out our tones. We’ve gone through so many different amps, so many different set ups, so many different guitars, and pedals…

“Every little connection,” said Cicchetti, “something could go wrong. But that’s what’s made us better, as a live band. We’re filling in each other’s gaps. It’s kinetics, we have to have movement…We’re trying to flesh out as much as possible, but still have a groove to it.”

“That’s what the whole album is supposed to be about,” said Gruse, “It’s a study in kinetics.”

The sound is that blitzing, shredded rock, guitar-heavy pop with this psychotically amped up danceability. Gruse pounds a shunting flurry with Cicchetti’s high-flying guitars and Dorey’s burning metallic low end grooves. It blends that theatrical, heavily-atmospheric prog-rock with the more down and dirty grime of destructive post-punk revivalism, all wound up by rolling rhythms that keep either the ass shaking or the feet stomping. All in all, a sound that burns with confidence.

The band seems to twitch with anxious energy, even here in the Cass Café on this sleepy afternoon – because they can feel the oncoming hurricane that they’re about to be blown into…a record release, the inevitable tour, the search for the next right move – be it finding a label or finding the right tour to support.

“…the little taste of the road that we’ve had so far…” says Gruse, “we’re dying to get back.”

“That’s where we belong,” said Cicchetti.

You’re ready, I suggest. You’ve got the energy…and you know how to get along…

“Well,” says Cicchetti, “We (he points to Gruse) live together. Him and I fight all the time, we’re used to fighting.”

“Well,” says Dorey with a smile, addressing Gruse, “you and I got into a fist fight in Charlotte (NC).”

This was the infamous rafter-climbing show that also included them “destroying the stage” and knocking over “the painting of the bar” and breaking bottle(s)…Ah well, such is the road, right guys? What should be commended is that they were able to pull in dozens of people for that show just from traipsing around Charlotte the day of the show, selling CD-Rs of material and flier-ing. They did the same approach in the not-so-northerner-hospitable Nashville, burning CD-Rs off of lab tops in some morning blur inside a Starbucks in between mixing with the country-music-loving locals out on the street, deceiving them that they sounded like Dwight Yoakam or Conway Twitty…and shopping for cowboy boots. Still, in Nashville, a band from the north with no record out (yet) was able to pull in 50+ people.

They definitely feel ready.

And Half-Horse won’t be just the same whirled dance-rock and metal-pounding punk that most of us have gotten used to at their live shows. Thanks to the accoutrements of Daniel Johnson, the “fucking incredible” recording work of Dupuis and Hoegemeyer, the band were able to feature more nuanced, electro-leaning atmospheric songs, somewhere between a more experimental prog and trippy-pop. “To show,” says Nick, “that we have other textures and we’re going to continue to do that. The new track we’ve recorded is completely unlike anything else we’ve done.”

The album name, just like the band name or much of the band’s song titles or running philosophy, comes from asinine inside jokes – Cicchetti took the oft-repeated douche-bag statement of “half-man/half-horse” and dreamt up two ass-ends of a horse melded together “with their wieners almost touching in the middle…” But, put a bit more earnestly: “there's a lot of sexuality in the album. There's also a lot of humor in some ways and a lot of satire...and I think that that name kinda's kinda off the cuff but it's kind of a good description of the feel of the albums, in some senses...”

The band will release Half-Horse/Half-Horse Feb. 21st at the Pike Room (Crofoot) in Pontiac, with Silverghost and Deastro. From here, they foster a relationship with burgeoning label Baby Moses and look to release more singles in the near future. From there, a tour – label or no label, they will tour.

Look for an even bigger show in March. More info:
(photos: top to bottom, Zoz, Dorey, Cicchetti)

1 comment:

Mac said...

I love Millions of Brazillians! I couldn't find anything on them anywhere and i'm super happy to have found this article. I was starting to think that one of my favorite bands didn't actually exist.