Catching Up With M R from Picniclunch & Eric Baylies Before 4752 Fest

4752 Fest is almost here! We can’t sing its praises enough over at KLYAM. In case you missed it: Saturday afternoon/evening (OCTOBER 23) in Downtown New Bedford – 13 bands of various persuasions will play at 6 different (mostly nontraditional) venues starting at 2:30 PM. Experimental and DIY meets the small business entrepreneurial spirit. There isn’t anything like it in New England – or even the United States. Maybe? Maybe this will be the start to people from all over the world coming through to the hidden gem that is New Bedford. A la Gonerfest? Maybe.

In the spirit of 4752, I caught up with Mike Ribeiro of Picniclunch and Eric Baylies of Baylies Band. Both are playing. Check the full lineup and details at the end of this post.

Mike Ribeiro (PICNICLUNCH) – an oral history:

My family moved to New Bedford in 1984, when I was about to turn 10. After graduating high school I went to college in Boston, dropping out after two years, then spent a couple years in Baltimore before coming back. Talking, 1996. So, outside of those 4 years and my early childhood, I’ve been here most of my life. I picked up bass in high school, and even sang in a band with some of my friends for a bit, but it wasn’t until I got back from Baltimore that I really got into performing. I played in a couple, mostly recording, projects—including one with Devin Byrnes, our bassist and sometimes singer, called Steer Beyond Pink—before starting a band with my friend Jon DaCosta we dubbed Acrylic Anatomy. This ended up morphing into The Visa Mastercard Liars when my sister Rozana joined as a vocalist, and we played together for a good five years, mostly performing in and around New Bedford, which was a lot of fun. Splitting up sucked big time because I really loved our sound—very cacophonous and careening—but there had been some tension building, and getting things together had become very tough. I had put out a solo recording as M.R. (“Cornrows On the Desert Storm”, 2001) while still in VML, so when we broke up I just went full on with it, self-releasing an EP (“Loose Advocacy, 2005) and another full length (“Title Evoked”, 2007). Due, I think, to the abrasiveness of my guitar work, and possibly the lyrical content, it wasn’t always easy getting shows. And I really do love to play out, so this was frustrating. Seeking out open mics was practically the only way I could perform. But it was rarely ever gratifying in that I was basically forcing my material on an audience expecting the usual acoustic, mellow stuff, and feedback was at best things like, “Hey, keep at it, buddy, you’ll get better,” haha, when I’m thinking, “This is exactly how I want to sound, folk loser.” So after six years of this, I really wanted to get a band going again, both to collaborate again, and for access to other, more receptive venues. Devin was game, so we found a drummer, and that’s how Picniclunch started, and we’ve been at it—with a three year lapse while I went back to school from 2010 to 2013—since 2009. As to how it all relates to New Bedford itself, I’m not totally sure. I will say that, though it’s not always overt, New Bedford has consistently been referenced in my lyrics, so I’ve always considered what I do as being regional. Another way it might relate is the fact that it’s always seemed to me that metal and cover bands are the only kind of music that’s given any attention around here. So I have to give myself credit, along with long-time veterans of our scene like Eric Baylies and Carl Simmons, and Mike Montagano when he was around, for so stubbornly offering an alternative to that all this time.

Wow, that’s a lot to respond to, haha. Definitely think those open mic audiences would agree with you about me “killing songs” with my guitar. I’m very much in love with that description. That “attack” is very much a direct influence of several post-punk bands of the 70s and 80s I totally immersed myself in in my twenties, including The Fall, Gang of Four, and Sonic Youth, not to mention precursors like Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band and the Velvet Underground. And yeah, Minutemen and Burma are definitely in there, too. That visceral feeling these groups exuded really grabbed me, and continues to do so. Free Jazz and, as you mentioned, No Wave are another two huge aesthetic influences. What’s so exciting to me about those two genres is the musicians’ intense tenacity, hanging onto a note or idea as if letting go of it would mean death. And maybe that’s why you find what we do so danceable: we’re all trying to do our own individual thing—me, Devin, and our amazing drummer Mac Williamson—while doing our damnedest to hold down the rhythm, and that dynamic just sucks you in, and gets you moving. It’s our simultaneous joy and anxiety you’re dancing to, haha.

Yes, I did the flyers, and with Devin’s feedback, designed the festival t-shirt. So, yes, I’m a visual artist as well, and have done all the band’s album artwork—though I’d like to change it up a little, and get some guest artwork on the next lp. I also do animation, something I majored in at MassArt ten years ago. Outside of some animated visuals for a live streaming show we did at AS220 in Providence last December, I haven’t produced anything lately. Hoping I can get my act together soon and finally put together a video for one of our songs, which the guys have been encouraging me to do for a while. Dont wanna overpromise and underdeliver, so we’ll just have to wait and see….

Eric BayliesWHATCHU BEEN UP TO?

Played a few festivals since we been back in somerville and providence, good to be getting back into swing of things. Looking forward to nov 5 columbus theatre w vapors of morphine ( surviving mem of morphine) and dec 4 the met w start making sense – talking heads tribute. Done 4 tryouts for the show – hope to start filming pilot episode next month. Looking forward to first nb show in 2 years, lottsa great stuff that day. Fav record is always the next one but right now irs KAFKAESQUE- kinda shape shifting record for is as we stayed weird but in a different way- more towards captain beefheart and pere ubu than the noisy swans and sonic youth styles that served us so well

Line up for 4752

230- 345 (fiber optics center, 23 centre street)

230-Scapeghost315-Sugar death whistle

4 to 515 (communal space, 246 Union street)

4-Myles Goulart445-Wreath

515 to 630 (Destination soups,149 union)

515-Blood feeder6-Picniclunch

630 to 745 (the madlila, 741 Purchase st)

630-G.Gordon Gritty715-Bridge of flowers

8- 10 Mcfee gallery (104 William st)8-Baylies band845-Urojets915- Loud hearts1

10 to 11 30 No problemo (813 Purchase st)

10- Black beach1045-Landowner

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