Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Talking With The Pity Party

Last week I got the chance to sit down with Jul... I mean Heisenflei and Maurice of The Pity Party, and discuss their hopes and dreams, the origins of their live setup and the boring state of indie rock. Come eavesdrop on our conversation:

Rewriteable Content: How did the band get started, and is your live setup a deliberate move or out of necessity (Heisenflei plays drums, keyboards and sings simultaneously)?

Hesenflei: We went to highschool together in the valley, and we knew we wanted to make music together, because we felt like we shared a particular view of what you should do when you set out to make music. What it should sound like and what it shouldn't sound like.

RC: Is that just an inherent idea?

H: I don’t know – it should rarely sound like something you’ve heard before. If we are writing a song and one of us says oh that sound just like so and so, we both get really mad and our pride is hurt. Not that we can invent anything because everything is invented, but anyway…

[Maurice] was living in New York at the time, and he came to LA for a month and recorded some songs in my studio apartment. We knew that [Maurice] was going to play guitar and I was going to play keyboards, but we weren’t quite sure what the live setup was going to be. Once [Maurice] moved back to LA we started renting a practice space by the hour, which had a drum kit in it. So I was like ‘me I want to play drums.’

Maurice: Literally

H: So we decided that I was going to be the drummer. Meg White broke the glass ceiling for girls playing drums, but not only Meg White because for me it was more Carla Azar from Autolux. Pretty soon I started bumming out though, because I had always played music and drumming was new to me. I got the idea to use the keyboard, but thought it was a stupid idea and didn’t think it would ever work. The first songs we wrote had one or two keyboard notes in it.

RC: How did you get into the Silver Lake music scene?

H: My brother’s in the band Autolux and so that does what it does. It does a lot for us musically, because we are so in awe of them. I’ve always be in awe of my brother.

M: From a guitarist’s point of view I feel very much the same way.

H: We knew of Scott [Sterling] and he was really nice to us and he gave us our first gig at Silver Lake Lounge about a year ago.

RC: What bands are you into inside that scene?

H: We’ve played with Happy Hollows, Silversun Pickups, Bird and the Bee, The Front and Great Northern. For a while Great Northern and The Pity Party were having a feedback loop. We’d go see them and then write a song and try to Great Northern it out. Then they’d come see us play and the next time we saw them they’d have some guitars that sounded like [Maurice], which was weird because we’re so different as bands.

We just played with the Raveonettes in New York, which was amazing. We also have a few dates coming up with The Midnight Movies.

RC: You seemed to connect with the section in my review where I talked about your live show having aspect of Andy Warhol’s Factory. Can you elaborate on your thoughts regarding that?

H: When we see bands that make don’t make us feel like a broken finger on an otherwise beautiful hand, we get really excited. However, by in large when we go to shows we see very consonant music that sounds like other music you’ve heard. It’s like a format.

Some paper called us “electro oddities” recently, but it’s not like we’re art rock. We never thought that being more adventurous and experimental was that weird. One reason is that Autolux has always been in my life. So when we found Happy Hollows and Eagle and Talon we were excited to find people who wanted to make something different and wouldn't make us look like freaks.

We had rules before the band got started – no songs about love or going to parties, no songs where we say “I” or “me,” I always had to sing lower than [Maurice]. This is how to ensure that you never make any money or go anywhere.

RC: Do you have any plans for how you are going to chart the music business waters?

H: We’re putting out a limited edition vinyl picture disc with Missing Finger Records, and it’s basically a hand shake deal. In terms of the future... so every local band is going to mention Silversun Pickups or at least their brain is going to think about them when you ask them what they want to do. They’ve been around for 7 years, and they signed to a small label with a lot of money. They got the power of publicity behind it, and they’ve really had a quick rise. On the one hand I think we’d like to be a big fish on a small label, but who wouldn’t want that. I would feel really scared to sign to a major label right now, but I don’t think they’re signing bands anymore. I do believe we need some publicity outlet even if we do it on our own.

In our present incarnation, we have a limited visual appeal, with [Maurice] as the principal dancer and me just stuck behind the drums. So as we are now it would be awesome if we could be as big as Blonde Redhead, which is really big to us. But if there were other incarnations then I’d love to be as big as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but I don’t know how that happens.

RC: Plans for an LP?

H: We’re making our record right now, and it’s sounding so heavy. It’s being recorded by Manny Nieto who was in Distortion Felix, who were a very cool band.

M: He’s the master of guitar tones.

H: Right now he’s in the studio with The Breeders and has worked with bands like Monsters Are Waiting and Circle Jerks.

We’re recording the album all on recycled 2” tape, Recycling has sort of become a theme with us - we made all our CD covers from recycled material we found around the house. I also feel like when you’re recording you shouldn’t see the music on the screen, you should be listening to it.

At this point we are going to put it out ourselves, which feels weird because obviously you have to take all the initiative.

Somewhere around here our conversation turned to how the American Apparel billboards creep us out... The End.

Thank you so much to The Pity Party for talking with me and to you for reading this.

Live tracks from The Scene 04/19:
[mp3] The Pity Party - Dronebots and Peons
[mp3] The Pity Party - WMD

Tour Dates:
4/30/07 - The Echo
5/3/07 - The Glass House
5/25/07 - Safari Sams

[photo cred: alan munoz]


Blogger violations bureau said...

excellent interview

the pity party rule

did you see them play that syd barrett night? it was real great


since nobody reads our blog, its probably pointless to add this one to our Link To Precious And Valuable Other Blogs, BUT WE ARE.

keep up the terrific work plz



1:13 AM  
Blogger Duke said...

nice interview. they're really nice people so i bet they were a joy to interview....

3:04 PM  
Blogger Arpit Mehta said...

I was listening to 103.1 this morning, and after playing a Midnight Movies song, they said they'd be playing with Autolux and The Pity Party at the Glass House... and I smiled cuz I knew who they were :p

2:34 PM  

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