SXSW: Dusted

Back in March, Dusted performed at Emo’s East for the Polyvinyl Showcase during SXSW. The duo is the new effort of Brian Borscherdt, previously of Holy Fuck, and it shows Borscherdt turning to a softer, indie-rock side, turning away from Holy Fuck’s more electronic sound. I got the chance to sit down with Brian after Dusted’s set, which happened to be their first official show as a group. Dusted’s first record is coming out in July on Polyvinyl.

So you said that this was your first show as Dusted? Can you tell us how that experience was for you?

Brian Broscherdt: Oh it was great. It was great. We’re from Toronto and just before leaving we kinda bum-rushed a friend of ours’ show and sort of tried out a bit of this, but it didn’t go so well and now here we are so it’s sort of like that last show was maybe like half a show, so this was our first full show. First official one.

How was it playing at Emo’s for that first show?

BB: It feels like it’s a little bit backwards, it feels like we’re supposed to work our way up here after maybe 20 shows or 200 shows so it really felt like we were lucky to jump so many steps to get a really great [venue] the first time. Mind you we were also very nervous, of course.

Well, it went great.

BB: Aw, thanks so much, thanks. It was fun! It was a lot of fun.

So you said you’re from Toronto?

BB: Yeah, Leon and I are both from Toronto.

Dusted is just a two piece band, with you on guitar and vocals, and Leon on drums. What made the decision to go with just two members?

BB: Um, that’s a good question, basically I started the record with Leon, like he has this studio in Toronto it’s like an old just a little garage, where I was working out these songs with him sort of as a creative process and we weren’t really sure what was going to happen. Then when the time came that we decided we were going to start playing live, obviously he was my first choice. Let’s do this, we already did it together in the studio, let’s make it happen. And I think, I dunno, there’s always the potential to add another person but in the meantime I think it’s nice to just start out very minimal because it’s really making us be extra creative, like, some of the things that you would intuitively want the third person to do, a guitar line or something, suddenly you can’t do that and you can’t rely on it, so it’s making us sort of be really creative. Leon, for instance, is not only playing drums but he’s playing basically kick and snare but also playing keyboards at the same time, so he’s doing all the baselines on his keyboard. So things like that, it becomes fun, and I think it makes it a special thing for us, makes it a nice challenge

Yeah, for sure. And I think it kind of stood out as something special, it just being you two.

BB: Yeah, and I hope so. I always enjoy seeing that. I like to see, I mean I like bands in all the configurations possible but I think there’s something special about two people, two friends, you see the camaraderie and it makes it a fun experience, I think.

Is this your first time at SXSW?

BB: No, I actually play with another band, and we’ve been here a handful of times but, uh, I dunno, to tell you to the truth the last time we were here I don’t even know if I had a good time because we played too many shows in too few days. Essentially I think it was like 11 shows in 3 days and it was really stressful. So to come back, and do something new, and kind of start from the bottom and just get a couple shows, it’s a lot of fun, it’s kind of refreshing.

So you’re playing at the Polyvinyl showcase, how’d you get involved with Polyvinyl?

BB: Well very fortunately they got a hold of my record, and liked it. And we got in touch and yeah we’re going to be putting our record out in July with Polyvinyl. So it was a fairly organic process, just sending it out to special labels and hoping they dug it. I feel like that’s a real shot in the dark with so much out there, so many bands. And although of course there’s many many labels, there’s also very few labels when you think of a certain tier or certain status that some of these bigger indie labels have so I don’t know how it was that they came to listen to my record, out of everything, but I feel very honored that they did.

Have you had time to check out other bands here at SXSW? What are you excited for?

BB: Well, I really hope to. I showed up to get my bracelets and everything and get my credentials and then I was told that I’m not playing SXSW, I didn’t realize that this wasn’t an official showcase. So I didn’t get anything, I didn’t even get a guide, so I’ve been borrowing guides from people and I don’t even know who’s playing. But one of the things that I’ve learned from the past, is that you can have really big ambitions to see some of your very favorite bands and check things off of your “life list”, but at the same time that also means a lot of lines and a lot of frustration. And I’ve had much more fun with my South By experiences, when I’m here to see my friends. And even if they’re friends I see all the time back home in Canada, there’s something fun about being here, in a new city, in a new place where it’s summer all of a sudden. I really do enjoy being at my friends shows, so so far that’s more or less what we’ve done. I’m trying to think… I went to this weird wine tasting last night and watched my friends Wintersleep play, and it was like we all got drunk on free wine. It was really special, actually, it was fun. And I saw Lower Dens last night, they were great. I ran into some friends of mine, so I’m seeing them on the streets, but I haven’t seen them all on stage yet. So hopefully there’ll be more time.

And what’s the craziest thing you’ve seen at SXSW over the years?

BB: Oh wow, that’s a good question. On the spot here. Well, not so crazy, but one of the things I enjoyed doing was I met up with my friend who plays drums in A Place to Bury Strangers, a couple years ago. And they had forgotten their fog machine, so he went back to the venue to get it so here he is walking down 7th and Red River with his fog machine. So we all got this bright idea that we’re going to run around and ambush various stranger’s shows by plugging in the fog machine. So we just kinda went in, like guerilla style, fogged out all these random bands’ shows. And it was really fun and most people thought it was cool, but it provoked one fight where we almost got beat up. They weren’t too happy about getting, like, heaps and heaps of fog piled onto them. Yeah so that was pretty fun. There’s always crazy things going on. But it’s mostly just a lot of like, hip young beautiful people walking around looking cool, and eating gross food.

Well thanks a lot for talking with us. Hope you enjoy the rest of the festival

BB: Absolutely, thank you. Yeah, I hope to come out to Pittsburgh soon.

Interview by Eden Weingart

For the week of April 3, 2012

  1. Air: Le Voyage Dans La Lune
  2. Tennis: Young & Old
  3. Alcest: Les Voyages De L’Arne
  4. The Black Belles: The Black Belles
  5. Soul Rebels Brass Band: Unlock Your Mind
  6. Psychic Ills: Hazed Dream
  7. Jamie Woon: Mirrorwriting
  8. Mati Zundel: Amazonico Gravitante
  9. Brian Fruit: 1.1
  10. Young Magic: Melt

Alt Tuesday: Alkaline Trio

It actually slightly worries me that it has taken me this long to post about Alkaline Trio on this blog. They are definitely one of the most important bands I have started listening to in the last couple of years. Alkaline Trio is a Chicago-based punk band that has been around since the ’90s and has been developing their sound, experimenting with post-punk inspired albums (such as Crimson and Agony and Irony). Yet they have never strayed too far from their roots, which is something I respect in an artist. Their release From Here To Infirmary is where there is a clear bridge between kids who wanted to play punk songs and adults who are serious songwriters.

The album opens with fan favorite “Private Eye,” which is a heavy, dark song that features lead guitarist/co-lead vocalist Matt Skiba at his best. His brooding lyrics can easily scare listeners away, as he is constantly “doing fucked up shit” and “looking for corpses.” But if you look past all the darkness, you can hear some pretty catchy melodies and an overall genuine emotion behind his lyrics. For example, the next track on the album, “Mr. Chainsaw,” is about the pains and struggles of growing up.

Skiba’s song writing style contrasts nicely with bassist/co-lead vocalist Dan Andriano (who happens to be a personal hero of mine, so please ignore the boy-crush nature of the rest of this post). Andriano writes extremely heartfelt lyrics that are obviously coming from a place of pain. “Take Lots With Alcohol” is a confused rambling. He bellows “I have no desire to see through my own eyes anymore.” Andriano has this incredible ability to display a very masculine voice that allows his lyricism to be dark without sounding whiney. I find myself believing his problems are genuine rather than made up for the sake of writing a sad song to make emo girls buy their album.

Other stand out tracks are the lead single, “Stupid Kid” and “Armageddon.” Alkaline Trio writes good hooks that have hard punk music behind them. Perhaps not the most accessible sound, but they are good songwriters who write about subject matter that is important to them, such as the death of friends or the personal issues they try to hash out via alcohol and self-medication.

My favorite track on the album is the final track, “Crawl.” The song tells the story of Andriano’s guilt after a one night stand with a girl who has a boyfriend. The thoughtful lyricism and raw emotion that is present is a brave showing from Andriano. A link to a live performance of the song is below:

The reason I love that performance is the same reason that I love Alkaline Trio. The punk music matters. And all the emotions are real. And let’s face it: We could always use some more real music.

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