Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Few Words with Screen Vinyl Image

On May 23rd, 2008, Screen Vinyl Image played a set at Velodrome dance party. At the time, Velodrome was being hosted in the backroom of a small Eritrean restaurant. No biggie, right?
When photos from the show were posted on Brightest Young Things, some folk decided to use the comments section to sound off about the band being “too loud”. But as you’ll discover below, there’s so much more to SVI than just volume. Their music betrays the influences of Italo-disco, psychadelia and even John Carpenter (see below).
So without further ado, the final installment in our “Fortnight of Noise” series, an interview with Jake and Kim Reid (no relation to the brothers Reid of the Jesus and Mary Chain) of Screen Vinyl Image.

First things first, last year you guys played at Velodrome and some people complained that you were way too loud. I think that the room at the venue (Selam) was way too small. What’s your take on the situation? (I personally believe that people should carry earplugs, regardless of the venue).
Kim: We enjoyed playing Velodrome and actually were not aware until days later that there were complaints about the volume. Usually when the volume is too intense people leave the room, but there was a crowd the whole time. We did try to compensate for the room and I thought the show sounded fine; however the room was essentially like playing inside a reverb tank. I do agree that everyone should always bring earplugs to shows, regardless of the venue or band. The volume we play at live is just the volume we are accustom to and yields the sound we want. We never think about it as being really loud. I personally love seeing intense bands. It is an experience instead of just being background music. It is amazing to not only hear, but also feel the music.

You list John Carpenter as one of your influences. Are you talking about his films or his music?
Kim: Both influence us. The films are dependent very much on the soundtrack. Early Carpenter is very DIY and the minimalist electronic soundtracks are amazing. Just a simple beat and synth lines make a memorable movie moment. Early Carpenter films, such as “Assault on Precinct 13”, “Halloween”, “The Thing”, and “Escape from New York”, influence us.

How do you feel about the term “nugaze?” Do you think that it describes your sound accurately?

Jake: We’ve heard the term mentioned a few times, but I don’t know how well it has caught on. I think our sound tends to fall more into an electronic/psychedelic realm.

Could you explain what it’s like making music in the DC area in 2009? More specifically, do you think that the legacy of Dischord, politics and hardcore is burden or a blessing?
Jake: We don’t really think about it much I guess. There are positive things about DC and not so positive things too. We practice in an awesome studio called One World, and we know a lot of great musicians that live here, but we also enjoy getting out of town and experiencing new cities and seeing what’s out there.
As far as Dischord, I think the legacy is a blessing. I got into Minor Threat and Fugazi in high school, then The Make Up, then Nation of Ulysses, etc. That music is very unique and often sounds like nothing else that was being made at the time. So did Go-Go and I got into that music as well growing up. I liked listening to something like Skillet by Backyard Band and it sounding like this massive wall of percussion slamming your speakers. I really like the fact this music came out of DC and sounds so unique.

What bands in the area do you enjoy playing with? Are there any you’d like to play with in future?
Kim: We enjoy playing with Ceremony from Fredericksburg and The Water from Baltimore. When the band was together we always enjoyed playing with the Antiques. It is also great to play with Greg of the Antiques solo project, Teething Veils. We would eventually like to play with Lorelei or Loderunner.

Jake, your previous band, Alcian Blue, used to tour with Skywave (somehow these guys have come up in all 3 interviews for Fortnight of Noise). Now do you have any cool stories about them vs. soundguys?
Jake: Yeah, I think both bands got banned from more than a fair share of clubs for volume levels. We all were in Canada on tour and I remember the bartender telling Oliver that Skywave would sound good if they just brought it down to “Slayer” volume levels.
And, when I was with them, we did a show in NY once where after the first song the bartender came running over screaming at us to turn down and we turned the amps up louder and she saw it and started yelling “You turned the knobs the wrong way,” as if we didn’t know what we were doing. We only got through a short set before the cops showed up.

And keeping up with the life on the road theme, do you have any fun/weird/exciting/harrowing stories from being on the road with SVI?
Kim: At a show in a punk club in Cleveland Jake broke his guitar and asked if he could borrow a guitar from one of the other bands. After seeing him abuse his guitar I don’t think anyone wanted to sacrifice their guitar for us to finish the show. We ended up improvising a version of The Midnight Sun that attracted people from the bar next to the room to come see what was going on. After the show they all pitched in to help us get paid which was really cool.

Jake: Also on the same tour we were driving from NYC to Cleveland in a day. It’s not impossible, but we hit a ton of traffic and you also have to drive through the Pennsylvania wilderness, which never seems to end. We got to the motel and it was 3:30am and we turned on the tv and it was an old episode of Soul Train with Yellow Magic Orchestra as the guest. Maybe it was being so out of it from the long drive and wilderness, but it seemed like a surreal reward for making it to the motel.

Tell me about your favorite pieces of equipment that you use in the studio. Guitars, basses, pedals, samplers. Etc.
Kim: I love my SCI Pro-One. I can get all kinds of crazy sounds from that synthesizer. I also love my Moog Prodigy and Arp Omni 2. We have a lot of effect pedals we’ve collected over time and I like experimenting with the synthesizers and different effect pedals.

Jake: I love my Future Retro Mobius Sequencer cause we can hook it up to any of our synths. My favorite guitar is my Fender Jaguar, and my favorite pedals are my Death By Audio Fuzz Saw (a mod of the Sound Saw) and my Russ Meyers octave/compressor.
Also, we have a new member of the band named Nathan who plays live drums and triggers samples. He wasn’t featured on the album (Interceptors), but we’re working on a lot of material right now and it’s been a great addition to the band. He’s been touring with us since February.

Last question! My Bloody Valentine had a very successful reunion last year and they’ll be at Coachella this April. Are there any other first wave shoegaze bands that you’d like to see reunited? Me personally, I’d pay top dollar to see Ride or Slowdive.
Jake: We actually went up and saw MBV in New York and it was a great show. It was amazing that they weren’t just dialing it in for the sake of it, but still very tight and very into putting on a total experience for the crowd. I’d personally love to see Curve come back together and tour.

Screen Vinyl Image will be playing a secret show show this Friday the 13th with Ringo Deathstarr and Averkiou (If you're trying to roll through, get at me for details).
They'll also be playing at Solly's in Washington DC on March 23rd with Sad Crocodile and me and Laura Reading.

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