(MORE) DEATH CHANTS
Many thanks to Death Chants for getting in contact and taking the time to engage in a Q&A session…when I contacted Rafi a week or two back, I asked if he’d answer some lame-o questions, and, bless 'im, he gamely said he’d only answer ‘em, if they were really lame…he needn’t’ve worried, as regular readers will testify, this blog regularly takes the Art of Lameness to new, unassailable heights.
Where are you guys based...Washington DC area...? How long you been playing together, etc?
Rafi: "We are based in Maryland just outside of Washington....we first got together a little under a year ago, last spring....the first time we played we did a bunch of Pavement covers and fucked around extensively, then got to talking ..and natural history was done the next two times we played; that tape is quite literally the sound of the birth of this band. I’m fairly convinced that the sounds we made those nights constructed Death Chants in some form of primordial shamanistic magik....the band was borne of a love for all the sounds we hold dear, and a desire to create something new that was none of those things, to be a part of that holy continuum and radiate forever...."
Michael: "I had to take a semester off of school at the end of 2004 for reasons undisclosed... I was pretty shaken up and the band just started out for me as a means of therapy: initially me and Rafi and Paul doing Bauhaus covers in Paul's basement, making noise and talking about Faust, Chrome, The Residents, and folk music. Alison started playing with us that summer; she had met Paul sometime earlier, and Mark had been going to school with me and graduated when I was supposed to."
There are pieces out there on the internet that describe you as free folk/freakfolk/etc...some groups aren't keen on that as a genre-tag...how would you personally describe yourselves...?
Rafi: "I would say simply that we play free music and we play folk music, anything more than that is just unnecesary. I do think that a large part of the character of the groop comes from existing in a rural world in such close proximity to and making uncomfortable contact with the wilds of the city…Death Chants has seen the bright lights and been blinded by them, albeit temporarily, and the colours she saw while blinded changed her into a new being consumed by the need to tell others…
This is the music we made after we ran for the fucking hills, not in fear, but in private disgust, and we liked it so much we decided to live there..."
Michael: "We've been labeled "drug music" by some, which I think is kind of silly. Aside from straight-edge hardcore, most musicians tend to dally with some substances whilst in the practice room, right? Or is this an antiquated notion?"
Alison: "Also, we have dreamworlds in which we journey beyond the borders of time and space."
You've recently played shows with the mighty Sunburned Hand of The Man....are you now plugged into that nebulous/indefinable 'network' of like-minded bands...are there any other acts out there that you feel a definite affinity with....?
Rafi: "I can say with certainty that we are not plugged into anything...we really are just a bunch of kids making a joyful noise unto ourselves and our gurus in a basement in Maryland; we love getting out and we love playing live, but its something were just getting into recently, so hopefully we can get plugged in sooner...We try to play with bands like Sunburned, who are a great bunch of heads, and GHQ who we’ve played with a few times recently, mostly because we are interested in making contact with those who have a similar love for righteous free sound as us, whether they be the bands themselves or people who are drawn to those bands, or at least it’s nicer when that happens which isn’t always, to be sure..."
Alison: "And sometimes when we play shows we get to meet other musicians who we admire and think are really cool and then we get excited and freak out and potentially embarrass ourselves (but in a nice way). It's hard to get used to the idea of actually being a part of what we used to just look at from the outside with admiration."
Michael: "Omigod, the Sunburned show was SO fucking sweet!"
Alison: "…and when I met Samara Lubelski, I think I seriously scared her…I was just way too excited."
Well…I’ve never met Samara Lubelski and I’m totally in awe of her! I think she’s one of the touchstones of this amorphous ‘scene’…she’s been out there doing her thing for what seems like forever…it seems like she’s recorded/played with just about everyone at one point or another…she’s even done stuff w/ lost Post-Kraut heroes Metabolismus... It’s a bloody crying shame that more people don’t know who she is…
Okay, so what’ve you guys got in the pipeline...?
Rafi: "Gettin' very busy very soon... yes, gotta tape comin' on Sloow Tapes soon...a 7" I'm putting out on a label I'm starting, and workin on lining up a tour, plus two new tapes just out that I made...it's really lovely you've taken to the cdr; I'd say we were aimin' for the heartstrings on that one (really everything we do, but...) nice to hear we made at least one hit...thats really all we wanted..."
Yeah, take it from me that Death Chant's self-titled CD is a corker. I totally get what Rafi says: this collection of tunes really is heartfelt...there's a genuine, unselfconscious sense of emotional (and sonic) exploration in the tracks that just kinda hits ya right there; the songs are experimental yet tuneful; musically inventive, yet there's also a gentle, almost romantic vibe to them. There's also a CD ("Natural History") doing the rounds that collects their earlier cassette releases, and I def. intend to check that out too...