Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Happy to be here...

photo: Andrea Zarzycki
Chris says Pink Lightning spoke too soon when they called their 2011 debut EP First Rodeo, implying, with roll of weary eyes, and soft heave of sighs, that this time, with their new full length album, Happy To Be Here, they feel “seasoned,” feel the actual saddle sore. Butterfield admits though, he’s probably “the more obsessive one…” of the quintet, including founders drummer Neal Parks, bassist Everette Rinehart, and accordionist Leo ("Mike") McWilliams 

Cut from quirkier formative influences like karaoke cut-ups and stand-up comedians, the suspender-strapped, shimmying shout-singer is prone to embrace improvisation – but get him in the studio and he has to do epic, nerve-wracking battle with his “constant-revisionist”-side. “I’m very critical and particular about my parts and you’ll hear a lot of dubbing on Here, but that’s ‘cuz I worship Brian Wilson and Harry Nilsson and Michael Jackson. There was a lot of room on the songs, so, then I said, oh, let’s bring in the horns!”

Pink Lightning’s been honing their strange danceable rock brew for two years now: tribal post-punk rhythms with destructo-disco-romps in the garage, like post-bop jazzheads got jibing with some pedal-inclined neo-psychedelic space-rock shredders. And then there’s that zazzy accordion; ardent performers preaching the New Weird of music melding – something akin to a circus, at the very least, affecting a tilt-o-whirl aesthetic with their energy and song structure.

But capturing that energy, all their experimental tempo-shifts, Parks said, means “WORK,” claiming to have lost three lbs. after slamming skins for hours on end in a “sweatlodge” sound-proof room. “Loved every second of it, though. This album means a lot to me.”

artwork by Ryan Standfest
Tom Bahorski (of The Ashleys) joined last autumn, recruited to fill the departure of original guitarist Matt Paw (who you’ll hear on Here). Bahorski recorded the brass section (Thomas Gilchrist-tuba, Stephen Bublitz-trombone) in McWilliams/Parks’ home, an Eastern Market loft doubling as PL’s rehearsal space, only to lose the first demos with an ill-fated file corruption on the computer.

But that worked out. All that re-working, re-recording – Butterfield, Parks and Rinehart all see the light. “(Butterfield) completely rewrote one song and, honestly,” Rinehart says, “it frustrated me at first, but once I heard how it paid off, I knew I would have to just be patient…”

Hard to stay patient when post-punk rhythms sound like they’re in all your bloodstreams. Bahorski’s anticipating Here as a fan, first and foremost, but now, as a member: “It’s just exciting being around exciting people…and handsome lads to boot…We build excitement.”
Album Release  4/28/12 @ Old Miami (Detroit)  w/ Mexican Knives, Beekeepers, Robin Parrent

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