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Let's Stay Active

Mitch Easter's out on his own with Dynamico.

"To me it's all sort of a piece," he says of Dynamico's place in his recorded output. "It's a little more competent here and there than the Let's Active records — but only marginally." He laughs. "And in other ways, it's not much different at all.

"People always think that when you're writing songs or recording songs, there's all this deliberateness about it, like, 'You wanted an '80s sound!' or 'You wanted a '90s sound!' It's just sound to me. What I do is just sort of what I do."

Critics have responded favorably to whatever it is Easter is doing — even going so far as to describing Dynamico as having a harder sound than his previous work.

Mitch Easter: Still active after all these years.
Mitch Easter: Still active after all these years.

Details

$10 advance, $12 day of show. 314-621-6565.
8 p.m. Saturday, September 22. Lucas School House, 1220 Allen Avenue.

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"For whatever reason, it's perceived as being more rock," Easter says. "And that's generally seen to be as good. That's because Let's Active had a bit of typecasting as the world's fluffiest bunch of little Smurfs. Maybe the fact that I'm old now makes this go away, and that makes some people relax."

In recent years, though, interest in Easter's work with Let's Active has increased exponentially. (Before earning a reissue in 2004, the CD version of the band's debut LP/EP, Cypress/Afoot, regularly went for $50-plus on eBay.) Other cult acts — such as Athens, Georgia, post-punk dub-rockers Pylon, whose debut, Gyrate, will be released on CD in October — are also earning some long-overdue attention.

Easter pragmatically says that the reissue craze for Let's Active and others is "a cheap way to put out product" — but also theorizes that the enthusiasm and innocence attached to the early-'80s is fueling the nostalgia and affecting the resurgence.

"People were so desperate for that music when it came along," he says of that time. "Everybody I knew would drive 300 miles to see some not-particularly-famous band, if they represented the new sound. That was all very exciting.

"It was pretty innocent. That word can be thrown around, but it's the truth. Most of the bands invented themselves. When you look at commercial rock now, it looks very manufactured. It reminds me of the late '50s, with teen idols and stuff. It's really about looks and youth. Whereas bands like Pylon were funny-looking, and that was part of its charm."

That lack of self-consciousness remains strong in Easter's motivation for both performing and making music. At his St. Louis gig, he'll be performing songs from Dynamico and selections from Let's Active's catalog, as well as playing with opening band Shalini (touring in support of a new album, The Surface and the Shine). He's realistic about expectations — both in album sales and audience size — but figures that releasing Dynamico now rather than another time makes sense. After all, why not?

"I have no idea what the right time is," he says. "But I don't know anything about the music business. I never did and I really don't now. Last summer I had some time to actually make a dent on mixing a record. There were other times when I had time — probably fifteen years ago, where I just thought, 'Eh, nobody wants to hear this.'

"At this point, I'm over any kind of worries about whether anyone wants to hear it or not. It's a happily admitted vanity project, and if anybody wants to hear it, great!" He laughs. "It was great to have a real career for a few minutes a long time ago, but that sort of thing we had back then doesn't exist anymore. I can't worry about that."

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