Quiet. Loud. Quiet. In its original inception, grunge was a breath of fresh air that saved the alternative music genre. Bands like Mudhoney and Nirvana created a scene that was instantly vibrant and accessible. Regrettably, Nirvana’s success coupled with the sugar, slick vapidity of bands like Bush perverted and destroyed the genre. Enter Object, a band who unabashedly embrace the ethic of early grunge and turn it on its ear. With one of the best drummers in rock (no exaggeration) and a singer/guitarist who fills the room within the context of a two-piece, Object takes the torch of grunge and makes it respectable again. TDOA writer Amy delves into their work.
TDOA: You list Salvador Dali and Philip K. Dick among your influences – what about their work influenced your sound?
Eric: Both Salvador Dali and Philip K. Dick had virtuosic skill and mastery of realism while working in extremely abstract, experimental, and surreal ways. They were so far ahead of their time. These are the qualities that made them genius. I can’t say they’ve influenced our sound per se, but they’ve influenced me as a person profoundly. I can only hope to achieve a fraction of their artistry in my lifetime. Now that you mentioned it though maybe I should be concentrating on how their work CAN influence our sound!
TDOA: I feel like I’m listening to Billy Corgan singing Dinosaur Jr. songs. What are your thoughts on this comparison?
E: I don’t think my voice really sounds like either of them, but Billy Corgan and J.Mascis are definitely hugely influential on my guitar sound and songwriting, so that comparison is a great compliment. Thank you!
TDOA: How do you think your sort of alternative sound appeals to the hipster crowd?
E: I don’t think it does. Maybe they’ll catch on someday in a post ironic way.
Maria: I think the ‘hipster’ crowd is actually open to a lot of different kinds of music. They’re excited about live music and they want to be a part of it. I don’t think that we are SO alternative that we alienate them. There are certain unifying factors to the most popular bands in that scene that we don’t exactly have, but as far as raucous energy and loud noisy guitars, I think we fit in just fine. The intention is the same. We just want to write good songs.
TDOA: Maria, there are very few famous female drummers. Who do you count among your influences?
M: I love Meg White. She’s magic. I like her no frills playing because it suits the sound of the band perfectly. I just love her style all around. When she comes on stage, it gives me chills and I love watching her play. I don’t feel like she’s trying to prove anything which is refreshing and both her and Jack are 100% true to the songs. I think she is the most REAL part of the White Stripes…and don’t get me wrong, I love Jack. I think he’s a brilliant songwriter and a brilliant performer, but I think the whole project was his ‘concept,’ complete with tricks and gimmicks. The combination of the two of them is pure gold. I hope they get back together. As for other drumming influences, Jimmy Chamberlain is number one for me. His commitment to drums, music, and lifelong learning is very admirable. He can handle a lot of different styles and he’s always powerful and graceful. He’s a beautiful and strong player.
TDOA: I feel like I’m sitting back in my bedroom in junior high listening to your record. Is the 90s throwback intentional, or just a core component of your sound?
E: It’s not intentional in that we sat down and chose that genre to emulate. But I guess subconsciously it’s impossible to escape. We were incredibly lucky as teenagers to have had the music and culture that we did and it obviously had a major, lasting impact.
M: For some reason that’s just what comes out of us. We listen to a lot of different kinds of music, but maybe it’s the combination of rage and beauty that is characteristic of the “90s sound” that is so in tune with our personalities. I think bands like Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Soundgarden were able to make great songs that were immensely powerful, dark and beautiful. I suppose that is something that we strive for both intentionally and subconsciously. Honestly, though, I think the music is controlling us a little more than we are controlling it.
TDOA: You describe your sound as “aggressive.” Where does that come from, living in Brooklyn?
E: I don’t think it has to do with living in Brooklyn, although the frustrations of this city can definitely breed aggression. We just enjoy aggressive music. It has to have an edge to cut through my shell of apathy.
M; Yea, I don’t think it’s specifically reactionary to our surroundings. I just like to put a lot of effort into my performance which seems somewhat aggressive to me. I want to be an active player in my life and in my music. It requires some aggression, I think there is an element of violence in rock and roll. It’s impulsive and extreme and allows you to express all kinds of emotion.
TDOA: Why the duet? Did adding a bass player change the sound too fundamentally, or do you guys just work so well together it made sense to keep it just the two of you.
E: We started as a duo, and then had two different bass players, which were both friends. After our second bass player left, we felt it would be better to move forward as a duo instead of searching for a new bass player. It was easier to write as a duo, easier to schedule rehearsal/shows, we can tour in a passenger car… we’re not against playing with bassists, but it does sort of change the approach.
M: I think it works as a duo. I love bass players and what they add to music, but fundamentally I think the core of a band is the songwriter and the drummer. I think either one can make or break a band. We just stripped a band down to it’s most elemental form. It’s actually very organic which I know is something Eric has always been committed to. But seriously, I mean no disrespect to bass players. I love what they do and I love playing with them, but for Object – this is what it needs to be.
TDOA: What are your plans for the future?
E: First and foremost, to keep getting better at writing and recording music! We’d also like to find people to help with the business side of things; a label, a manager, a publicist, a booking agent, etc.
M: We want to try to live up to our potential. As for the immediate future, we have an EP coming out soon called “Tomorrowland.”
TDOA: How has Black Swan been received by critics and fans? Has it expanded your audience at all?
E: It seems to have gotten a mostly positive response, and yes in a small way it has expanded our fan base thanks to the internet.
M:I think a lot of people were into the video for “Ghostly” so that helped.
TDOA: What are your thoughts on the music scene in NYC? Too hip to thrive, or doing just fine?
M: Too hip to thrive. Everything is always changing. The scene that you speak of is a little too rooted in what’s fashionable and not supported with a lot of talent. I’m sorry to sound negative, but they just don’t impress me and they don’t seem to have much to say…at least not to me.
E: It’s definitely thriving, but it’s a little too hip for me. My problem with it is that the hip and thriving bands don’t really resonate with me at all. I do try and give everyone a chance, and I appreciate bands for what they are, but most of what’s popular right now just doesn’t move me.
For more information, visit their MySpace page.