Dark, glorious, shattering sounds from the trio behind Come, Neptune and Karate.
What does an indie noise supergroup look like?
It’s the single letter moniker that brings together the burning talents of Thalia Zedek (Come, Uzi, Live Skull), Jason Sidney Sanford (Neptune, Animal Hospital) and Gavin McCarthy (Karate) to create dark, edgy and frequently glorious compositions that are exactly what you hoped you’d hear based on the trio’s individual pedigrees.
After catching the band’s soaring set at a recent gig at the Middle East Upstairs, we thought it was time to get a few answers from guitarist / vocalist Jason:
Rocker: How did the band start and how long have you been together?
Jason: Thalia and I have known each other from just being around the scene from way back. We both have admired each other’s bands. I think we got to know each other better when we were both involved in doing some live music for the all-too-short lived “Market Theater,” which was a really interesting venue for experimental theater in Harvard Square.
Rocker: Why the Letter E?
Jason: It came up first as Thalia’s idea just because we had been writing a bunch of songs in the key of E, but I immediately liked the name because it is an empty signifier. Over-used in the era of “e”-mail, “e”-commerce, and “e”-everything, it is a letter overflowing with associative possibility and at the same time a voided, empty symbol onto which any meaning could be projected.
Rocker: I see you are playing a handcrafted “guitar” as you did in Neptune. What can you tell me about the instrument as well as your history with handmade instruments?
Jason: I come to music from an art and sculpture background. Welded steel guitars have been part of my thing for 20 years now. The latest generation of guitars are really stripped down. Just a skeleton, or maybe just a memory of a guitar. I like to re-invent the wheel whenever I can. Often when I do, I find out why the wheel was made round, but also that interesting things can happen when you try to roll on square wheels… I also have made some of the other stuff I use; a guitar pre-amp, my distortion pedal, and a bass-oscillator that I use on a few songs. The home-made stuff is always quirky, and I like quirky. As I discover the sonic quirks of a new instrument, they frequently become the basis for new songs.
Rocker: I could expound on what I see as the interesting strengths and intersections between your and Thalia’s styles and what you both bring to A Band Called E (or is it simply E?), but I’m interested to hear how you see your collaboration, what you get from the other band members, and what you can do together that is different than with your other bands. More simply the question could be: What is the best part of working with the others?
Jason: We’re just called E. But our website and our Facebook page are “abandcallede” because you can’t get just “e.com” as a URL.
Song writing is a very collaborative process among all 3 of us. Sometimes both Thalia and I decide to sing on a song and we won’t even know what the other one is singing about, but when we write it down later and read all the lyrics together, we say, “wow, that works!” It is really great to be working with Thalia and Gavin, because I have respected both their bodies of work for so long. It really inspires me to try to play better. Also it is really an interesting process to bring these 3 really distinctive voices together and have them all just do what they do, in a way that maintains each player’s individuality while supporting one another.
Rocker: I know you said you had a full length coming on Thrill Jockey, are you recording now? Where? With who? When can listeners expect to have it in their hot little hands?
Jason: We recorded recently with Andy Hong at Kimchee Studios. Andy did an amazing job and it was great to work with him. The album will be out in November (We just approved the test-pressing and it sounded great.)
Pre-orders are available already directly from Thrill Jockey at:
Also, we’ll be touring some in the U.S. at the end of 2016, and in Europe in early 2017
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