Tuesday, April 6, 2010
(We couldn't let a week go by without offering you guys some vinyl. We care that much. —Ed.)
As many musicians have been moving away from the raw-grungy sounds that have shaped and defined alternative music today, it’s always refreshing to hear a new band that brings us back to that sound. The Red Pens are that band. They are a deep breath of nostalgia, a band that will inspire you to not wash your hair for a week and maybe even buy a chain-wallet.
The Red Pens are guitarist Howard W. Hamilton III and artist/drummer Laura Bennett, who have blurred the lines between visual art and music. Following the recent release of their debut LP, 'Reasons,' the duo will be performing at the highly anticipated exhibit Everything by Guillermo Kutica at renowned Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. 'Reasons' has been praised by Pitchfork for its ‘wall-rattling feedback’ and its sound has been compared to bands such as Sonic Youth and Guided by Voices.
We got a chance to ask Howard a few questions about the sound, the band and of course, vinyl…
How would you describe your music to the people out there who haven't heard it?
Our sound is kind of a stew of indie rock influences but without any direct rip offs going on. Take the wall of sound of Jesus and Mary chain, the tunings of Sonic Youth, the holding on to the vibrato arm of My Bloody Valentine, and toss in some Guided By Voices worship in there and it might sound a little like Red Pens.
You may or may not get this question all the time but... how did you come up with the name the 'Red Pens'?
We were thinking about when our teachers in school would write "see me" on our homework with a red pen and how powerful that was.
Your song Weekdays was rated a 7/10 by Pitchfork which is quite the exceptional review. Considering Pitchfork is frequently thought of as the ‘mother of all indie music blogs’ how does it feel to be praised by the site?
It was a huge honor to be given a 7 and to have them talk about the recording was really cool. I think it made some people give it a listen that wouldn't have normally hear us so it was great.
How did you make the transition from art to music? How do you think art has helped shape your music?
When I met Laura I had pretty much given up on making music in a band. I loved her art and I could see a similar feeling being conveyed in both of our paintings so I contacted her to collaborate on some work. All she talked about was wanting to start a band so eventually it just happened that we started playing music and the art was the thing that brought us to each other. Without knowing each other before, our art is similar, and the music sounds like the art, we paint what sounds look like.
As you probably know, TVD is the official blog of Record Store Day. Do you have any specific Record Stores you are partial to? Do you or have you ever collected vinyl? If so, what are a couple of your favorites?
We love Treehouse Records here in Minneapolis it's one of the last perfect mom and pop record stores left. They really love music and keep it authentic old school no frills no bs.
We both collect LP's. Laura loves Wings, and Nick Lowe, and Roy Orbison records best I think. My favorites tend to be 60's fuzzed out bubblegum type stuff, anything on vinyl by The Fall also, I have some 90's Spare Snare 7"s that I listen to over and over lately.
TODAY the Red Pens are releasing 500 copies of a highly anticipated 'Reasons' on limited edition vinyl, which you may be able to get your distortion loving hands on here at TVD.
Drop us a line in the comments section, letting us know your favorite genre of music to listen to on VINYL—with email contact info!—for a chance to win this sweet rarity, delivered right to your mailbox. We'll choose our winner next Monday, 4/12!
Red Pens - Hung Out (Mp3)
Red Pens - Baby Alligator (Mp3)
Posted by Nicole at 1:59 PM