In this weekly column, RFT Music gets to know local creatives, musicians and their missions. Get a slice of the local scene, complete with a snippet of sound and info about upcoming releases and shows. Stick around to see what St. Louis artists have to say whenever they Fill in the Blank.
"It's kind of weird how we do things. Normally, you'd release an album and go tour on it. We've been on tour several times and now we're finally releasing a tape. And we're probably never going to play these songs ever again," says Andrew Carter, the drummer of Britches, regarding the trio's new album, Demolition. The cassette release is Britches' third set of recorded songs since its formation in 2009 and will be released tonight during a show with Boston's Guerilla Toss at Cafe Ventana (3919 West Pine Boulevard; 314-531-7500).
"The tape's more like a tombstone," adds Bryant Hoban.
After nearly five years of experimenting with the bounds of the traditional rock trio set-up, Britches will perform its set of dark and discordant, avant-garde rock one last time before embarking on a completely new concept: a "noise symphony."
Sitting in their Lemp Brewery practice space amid a sea of cables and effects pedals, empty beer cans and cigarette butts, the group squabbles about defining its newfound intent like salty siblings would. It's debates like these that evolved the band over time from a couple of ex-churchgoers and a Craigslist connection feeling out jangly indie into a stuffed-animal-head-wearing cadre of intense art rockers.
Each member of Britches relies on a revolving set of tools to lend tonal elements to the overall sound. The list of innumerable layers includes processed, purposely unintelligible vocal textures, a "noise log" set atop a walker that generates industrial noises via bowed scraps vibrating against a contact mic, and a sustainer pedal that connects to the guitar somewhat wildly, a contraption that controls feedback.
"It also makes him have more back problems and look even more terrible live," says Carter, referring to Reutter's electronic gadget. "We're trying to be as unattractive a band as possible. We pull it off. We know we do. No one likes us except for other bands and a selective minority of men."
At its core, Britches' spastic songs play out like a dark comedy, a self-deprecating soundtrack of inside jokes and experimental, visceral sounds with careful consideration to spacing and silence. The band's collective musical influences initially included This Heat, Liars and Birthday Party. Going forward, however, Britches will draw inspiration from some seemingly unlikely musicians: Pachelbel and Bach.
Instead of electronics, it will rely on unadulterated organic sounds including the incorporation of keyboard and cello. We're not sure what "getting to the roots of music" means for a band as eccentric as Britches, but only time will tell. Until then, hear a preview of Britches' latest, Demolition, below.
We invited Britches to fill in the blanks ahead of its album release show tonight. See what they had to say on the next page.