You've got a new, non-Lung album coming out October 16th on The Flenser (San Francisco-based experimental noise label). Congratulations!
This is a "bass-driven collage-punk" record you collaborated on with singer Leo Ashline (Street Sects). How did this project come about?
History is a really long story. It predates both Lung and Street Sects, and actually predates me and Leo even knowing each other in real life.
In the summer of 2010, I was back in Louisville living in my mom’s basement. My band at the time, Foxy Shazam, had been thru the low-tier major label grinder and were at an impasse with our then-label, who refused to promote our record. The whole process was surreal and disheartening. On a bike ride one day, I decided to make a record completely on my own and call it History.
The music was written and recorded very quickly, two days maximum. Songs were written on a fretless bass in about as long as they take to play. Unlicensed samples were chopped up and manipulated beyond recognition. Live drums hit with miniature souvenir Louisville Slugger bats instead of sticks collapsed midway through takes. All kinds of nonsense to get some aggression out and creativity flowing.
Leo I only knew thru reputation. We had friends in common in Florida, and he was somewhat of a minor legend for his unique vocal prowess. My friend Patrick Norris sent me a tape of Leo’s old band Kilborough (a totally unique and wild sounding band that touched on shoegaze, early goth, and metal) as well as some random solo demos that reminded me of Dead Rider. I basically just cold emailed him and asked him to sing on it. We emailed tracks back and forth for several months and it went pretty well.
Meanwhile, some predictable divisionary tactics straight out of any bad rock and roll movie started to tear my main band apart. I was ready to move on, and made plans with Leo for him to move to Cincinnati to start a band based around what we’d been working on.
I had some idea that Leo was into hard drugs, but it wasn’t really any of my business. He arrived at my place hours after I left for what I intended to be my last tour with Foxy Shazam. In my absence, Leo got into some trouble and was eventually asked to leave. He ended up in rehab and maintains sobriety to this day, crediting our strange project with getting him to take those steps. (That alone makes me feel like the whole thing was worthwhile.)
Gradually we resumed contact, and finished the songs remotely. There were a few practice sessions and mixing sessions over the years. I remained in Foxy Shazam until it’s natural end, Leo moved back to Austin and started Street Sects. Life moved on, but potentially releasing the record was always in the background. Finally, the time was right in this weird-ass year. 13 minutes of music that took 10 full years to see the light of day.
Any plans to continue working with Leo?
There will probably be some more music at some point.
As for LUNG, the band had a full year's-worth of touring scheduled right as the pandemic hit and closed the doors of the world's music venues--what have you and Kate been doing to stay safe and sane?
The outset of COVID-19 was rough on us, happening right as we were starting a massive tour that we’d been working on for six months. Within a week of cancelling over a hundred shows, we started writing in quarantine by bouncing ideas back and forth via email. Within a month or so, we had more than enough new songs to record. We found a safe way to record with our friend John Hoffman, and made a record in a week or so. It’s currently being mixed by Mike Montgomery of Candyland, and we hope to release it sometime soon.
Do you envision a return to 'normal' for the band, or how do you see yourselves and other artists emerging from this wreckage? Is there a silver lining or a new way forward?
There is so much bad shit going on right now that I don’t think people really have the bandwidth to fathom the coming venue apocalypse. Literally every day, I see a venue Lung played somewhere in the world close permanently. After 6 months without revenue and no real end in sight, bigger and bigger spaces are going to fold.
Whenever live music gets the “all clear,” three huge problems are going to happen at once:
every band in the world is going to want to play shows and tour at the exact same time
Fans will be wary and mistrustful of the safety of concerts because of the last six months of government negligence and stupid shit like Smash Mouth playing a motorcycle rally and will be slow to return on a habitual basis to concertgoing
Venue closures are going to make space for a glut of artists wanting to play shows very limited.
This means there will be way more bands wiling to play for way less people in way fewer spaces. Live music coming back from being shut down for six-months-plus to a huge glut is is going to do the opposite of help. I think people really underestimate how fragile a state things are really in, and merely “reopening” isn’t going to instantly solve every problem.
A cool silver lining could be the entire mainstream entertainment industry collapsing, leaving only an equitable, responsible, artist-led DIY underground. We need to build something better rather than just try to emulate a bunch of shit that barely worked in the first place.