It’s really been a great year for music. We’ve waxed poetic about great bands like The Prids, so when we heard about a band that was hotly tipped by them, we scrambled to our 8-track players and turned the volume up to 11. New York City continues to churn out a zillion bandsthatpitchforkloves every day. So when we tell you that Me You Us Them is our favorite new band from the NYC, we recognize the magnitude of the compliment. Kevin Shields could only dream of creating a masterpiece like this, which blends his MBV sense of vertigo with a charmingly modern sense of melody. Album of the year? Pfft, we’re placing bets on where it will place on our albums of the decade list in 2020.
Hey, look who’s back? It’s Ravin doing the honors with a band we truly love.
Any Time by Me You Us Them
TDOA: So for those who haven’t heard your awesomeness, who are you guys? How did the band come about and how’s the journey been so far?
Ian: An account of Me You Us Them so far…
Ryan and I began playing together in a band started by him and his wife at the time. I was our drummer, Ryan played guitar. That band broke up for terribly cliche and predictable reasons. The 3 of us that were not Ryan’s then wife regrouped, naming ourselves after a song in our repertoire that we had been striving to get right since the old band. So our lofty goal in the beginning was to finish one song (incidently, that line-up never actually played “Me You Us Them”). During the first year of MYUT, I remained on drums, and Ryan added singing to his duties. We wrote nearly an entire record, then our bassist disappeared. He didn’t quit, we didn’t ask him to leave, we just never saw or heard from him again. Minor setback. So I grabbed the bass, and we decided on an entirely different creative approach.
Ryan and I continued as a duo, becoming more of a democratic writing team, and sharing and trading responsibilities across the board. We ignored the fact that there were only two of us and started writing/recording whatever we felt like hearing in our songs, with no real regard for how in the hell the two of us would ever perform it. When we began playing shows again, we used a laptop with programmed and pre-recorded drum tracks and synths. Our first EP was released during this stage of the “band”.
In the months following the completion of the EP, we found a home on Brooklyn label Triple Down Records, courted our first drummer Jimi into the band, and began working on our full-length. We spent nearly a year playing a ton of shows and writing the record, then almost another year finishing the record, during which time we lost Jimi to the West Coast, brah.
After Jimi’s departure, we asked our good friend (and “Post-Data” drum tech) Zach to fill in temporarily. He’s still around, and we couldn’t be more excited about the current state of the band.
TDOA: Post-Data is pretty much the perfect amalgamation of every alt-indie, sub-genre I grew up loving, from grunge to brit-pop to shoegaze to post-punk, post-rock and math-rock, with a little ambient and IDM thrown in the mix. I’m curious to know how you would describe the band’s musical etymology…
Ian: Well thanks, man. I guess I didn’t realize we’d covered that much territory. A lot of those influences are there, and we try not to deny any one of them when writing a song. We also don’t actively seek to adhere to or destroy any musical boundaries, which are usually possessed inherently and/or accidentally, anyway. If anything, we always try to really own and fully occupy our boundaries in terms of songwriting, embrace who we are, and not be dishonest.
Tongue in cheek, we refer to ourselves as a “post-data rock band”, a term after which we obviously named our record. It isn’t so much descriptive of our sound, but of our process, and the timing of the release. A good friend of ours has baptized us “indie-ustrial”. Not to be confused with “Indi-ustrial”, a reference to India’s industrial sector.
TDOA: You guys are from Brooklyn, which has produced some of the most dreadful, overhyped, underwhelming bands I have heard in recent memory. [WARNING: The
opinions of this interviewer do not necessarily reflect those of TDOA Online Music Group, Inc. ] I’m curious to hear your perception of the scene there…
Or alternatively, since I know you might not want to shit where you eat, perhaps you could suggest a few local bands that you think deserve more attention than
Ian: The NYC spectrum is extremely crowded, and it’s very tough for us to determine where we fit into it, or even if we’re part of it. I think a lot of our friends in bands here feel that way. We’re fortunate enough to be part of a very supportive, eclectic label, which at times functions more like a collective. A lot of the bands/artists under the Triple Down umbrella are friends, play shows together, share ideas, help each other, hang out. None of us sound alike, but we’re all coming from the same place, have respect for what the other is doing, and have a sense of humor and humility about everything. But that’s just our little corner in a vast sea of activity.
Appomattox are one of our favorite Brooklyn bands, and are practically family. Oceanographer, a band that Zach also plays in, will make sweet love to your ears (they also did a gorgeous acoustic cover of our song “Drugs” which you can download for free here:http://www.oceanographermusic.com/storage/audio-files/Drugs.mp3). Aaron Nevezie, who mixed our record, is also a part of the JDT (Jason Domnarski Trio). They just pooped out an incredible little EP a couple months back. The new Tayisha Busay EP is hilarious, brilliant. Monuments just released their beautiful debut full-length. The last Zambri EP was on repeat for months. Same with the last Monogold EP, which slays. Adam’s Castle are about to drop a pretty huge new record. All very different, incredible bands, and really swell people. I’m all out of adjectives.
TDOA: What I really love about Post-Data is that, not only does it elegantly weave a vast array of genres into something much more than the sum of its parts, but at the end of the day, it’s all anchored down to hooks and melodies that stick long after the sonic experimentation becomes familiar. Was this a conscious decision on your part? Do you value the discipline and boundaries of pop song craft?
Ryan: Well, we know when something feels wrong to us. Every aspect of writing a song is conscious, but we try not to push things where they aren’t going naturally. So far every song that we’ve written has come together a bit differently, so we never really know what to expect from ourselves. We definitely have a lot of respect for the craft of songwriting, and we spend a lot of energy on the details.
Ian: Our palettes are pretty diverse, and sometimes one particular inclination might be what sparks an idea, or just might be in the foreground of a concept. But in the end, it takes us somehow employing most of our combined influences to get what we want out of a song. The right balance of everything we want to hear. You usually don’t find melody and structure without some degree of grit, density, or atmosphere in one of our songs. I am a total sucker for a good pop song, but I am able to exorcise most of those demons in The Wet Look, my Hall and Oates cover band.
TDOA: Post-Data feels like it was recorded in a live environment, as opposed to a direct-into-pro-tools set up. Is this an accurate assumption, and if so, why was it important to record the album in this manner?
Ian: “Post-Data” was actually recorded over the course of almost an entire year in several different locations. The project began in June of ’09 at the same Brooklyn studio in which we recorded our first EP with engineer Ryan Steele. We did the drums, bass, guitars, and synths there throughout the summer, and into the fall. A few months after our last session tracking the instruments, Ryan (Reesey) and I decided to return to our home town of Annapolis, MD to record the vocals. It was a decision that somehow just made sense. Go home to finish what you left in search of. We spent a couple days in Jan of ’10 at our good friend Alex Lakis’s studio, and boom-we had a finished record. We mixed and mastered at The Bunker in Brooklyn with Aaron Nevezie in February, and the record was released at the end of April. It was a long and exhausting limbo, and at times there was no end in sight, but we pretty much got the record we wanted.
Ryan: In preparation for our record, Ryan (Steele) actually knocked down walls in his studio to be able to get a more spacious, live sound, which is probably a lot of what you’re picking up on. You can really hear it on “Loving Like Lawyers” (Zach was actually part of the drum line with Ian and Jimi).
TDOA: Okay Ryan, how do you make all those cool twisty, warpy, pitch-shifty guitar sounds? (Don’t worry, your secrets are safe with us…)
Ryan: Are they, Ravin?
TDOA: Another thing I like about the record is that it makes tasteful use of atmosphere. It functions like an instrument all its own, surging, lingering and
vanishing to serve the emotion of the songs. What’s your perspective on atmosphere? Do you prefer recordings to be “wetter” rather than dry?
Ian: That’s a very cool observation. I think our obsession with atmosphere is pretty well documented. We’re usually striving to get more size out of our songs, both live and recorded. Maybe that comes from living in tiny NY shitholes. Maybe it comes from when we started the band wanting to make music that was bigger than the two of us. I’d say we generally gravitate toward a fairly saturated sound, but without the sort of long tails and endless resonance that instantly transforms you into an 80s goth band. I’ve always loved the way sound bounces around in bathrooms. Everything sounds cool in the bathroom. We should do our next record in one. It also would be very convenient.
TDOA: If I had to pick one song that I think best documents the Me You Us Them sound at this moment in time, it would be your sprawling epic, “Big Time”. It
goes from Faraquet to Mission Of Burma to Godspeed! and Sebadoh and Boards of Canada without skipping a beat. And how it does this without feeling bloated in
any way is beyond me. Anyway, I’m curious to know how this song came about. Was it a series of jams that you carefully linked together?
Ryan: As I recall, Ian and I were working on some other idea, and I just started playing what became the verse riff out of the blue. It stole Ian’s attention away from what we were in the middle of doing, so we just ran with it. From there, the ball got tossed back and forth until we had a song. The whole process probably took half a year or so, including recovery time after we’d crash it into a wall. I remember the vocals being the trickiest part to figure out, actually. But after the song finally evolved into place, they wound up being very simple, direct, and natural. By the way, Boards of Canada? Nice!
TDOA: I think what I love most about you guys is that, underneath everything, there’s a sense of ambition for the music and a pure joy for what you’re
creating. So many groups coming up seem to have a “too cool” attitude or pretense that’s more about being scene than actually trying affect someone
emotionally. In your minds, what is it you hope the listener takes away from the music, either in recorded form or live?
Ian: Well, awesome. Thanks for saying that. We made the best record we knew how to make, and are super thankful that it has found it’s way into people’s libraries. Finishing it was such a huge goal for so long that we still sometimes forget it’s out there. Every time someone new discovers the record and reaches out to us, it’s a welcome surprise. Are glow-in-the-dark fanny packs pretentious?
Ryan: It’s intimidation vs. invitation. There are those bands that try to trick you into wanting to be a part of their exclusive scene rather then just hold the door open for you. Fine, you’re awesome, but you’re also rude. We’ve never been impressed by that, and that isn’t where we’re coming from at all. Everyone’s invited to our party, even the smelly kid that sits in the back of the class. That kid rules at parties. All we want is to be a part of and continue the human tradition of self expression, and we really hope people are able to grab on to that sincerity in our music.
TDOA: Any plans to tour in the future? What’s in store for Me You Us Them in the future?
Ian: We are in the process of setting up several small East Coast quickies, some of which will be with our friends The Prids. If you want us to play your city, holler. We also just filmed a video for our song iQuit, and we’re releasing a split 7 inch record in the fall with Bloody Knives from Austin, TX. One new song from each band. In their song they used some samples from one of our songs. Of course, we liked it immediately.
Re-entry by Me You Us Them
You can pick up the album via Bandcamp.
August 16th w/ The Forms, Former Constellations @ The Knitting Factory, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
September 9th w/ The Foreign Resort @ Cameo, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
October 8th w/ The Prids, Lookbook @ Spike Hill, Williamsburg, Brooklyn
October 9th w/ The Prids, Lookbook @ The Delancey, LES, Manhattan
Read more: http://www.myspace.com/myutnyc