Bradford Barker has a way about him. In the past few months we’ve become connected. Conjoined nearly. It all started with a little CATCHING UP – those that are paying attention KNOW. Whatsup. The Calendars, Death Snail, Kitty Fuckers, The Alaskas, At Stan’s Bris. All of these entities foreign to me mere months ago. And yeah I’m not going to leave off the infamous Dirty Babies Club – where it all began…. (for me)
Well, the spirit of Denizen and, by extension the Furry fraternity, is to throw a lot at you all at once. This method is refreshing and wild. So Brad drops this one on us: Saves The Nation – a studio quality release that was recorded, mixed, and mastered by co-conspirator and indie popper turned punk Gavin Caine. I knew what to expect and what not to expect. Both.
There’s plenty of remarks to be made about this record. Questions, too. But we will leave that to the talent evaluators and mass media. I’ll tell you this.
The beauty of this album is the adventurous genre hopping. Bradford goes from acoustic singer-songwriter to indie rockstar to making the alt country record that Jay Reatard never made. Splitting the difference between a Pavement era Weird Al and a vintage Dew Myron. But not ever really being satisfied with just that. Powerful.
Will McCall aka Will Heel aka shhhanthemum built Trixie’s Palace. That should be enough of an introduction and it should speak volumes. Will came back to the area recently and it was glorious. Cheers to more visits! Here’s a bit of a catching up.
Q1. Will – pleasure to catch up with you! Your solo set at Furry Frat on Friday, March 18 was magic. Get back to that in a minute. As you informed me – you’ve been away from Boston for a bit – living up in New York. How’d it feel to get back here and perform?
That show was a blast. Yea I’m living up in Syracuse right now. I bombed down I-90 for 5 hours blaring Merle Haggard and NBA podcasts on a whim just to play a basement show and sleep at the Furry Frat. Boston still feels like home…or like a weird second home. I get a beautiful strange feeling everytime I come back. And it was an honor sharing the bill with a legend like yourself.
Q2. Some might know you as a Trixies Palace (R.I.P Allston basement) legend or some variation of that, perhaps from your days in Healers Co. Would you mind giving a little history/timeline of your association with Trixies and Healers Co.? Did you have bands or projects that go even way(er)back? We certainly met there and I won’t forget the Healers set from the noise fest we did a few years back.
Its actually a funny story. I built Trixie’s Palace.
There was no house at first. Just a humble shack on a street corner in Brighton.
One night there was a great and terrible storm. The shack was torn apart by winds. And then a bright, blinding light.
An angel appeared to me. She told me I needed to build a house where musicians can play basement shows. I was afraid. Why me? I’m only 24..how could i possibly build a DIY show house?
She told me if you build it, you will start a band (Healers co.) that will one day have 61 likes on facebook. That was enough to convince me.
So yea I built Trixie’s Palace.
Then I told Johnny to come move in and the rest is history.
Q3. To dive into your sound a little bit – how long have you been interested in ambient/sample based music and were there any groups, individuals, or associations that knocked you on your ass or rather lit a fire under there to get you to want to contribute to this paradigm? There’s like a bigness to what you’re doing, set up against a background of glitches and weirdness. It’s awesome!
When Healers first started playing live we would usually play sets all the way through without stopping and I would play different jazz and opera tapes during transitions between songs to poke thru our noise. And then i accidentally acquired some tapes with 90s R’n’B mixes and Electronica mixes and that sent me down this wormhole of sampling and building new songs from the samples.
In terms of like “sample” based music that was influential.. I could point to a couple records that were big for me. Lost and Safe by the Books was one for sure. Person Pitch by Panda Bear. Quasimoto’s The Unseen.
Early in the pandemic I got into this electronic group called The KLF and especially this one record of theirs called Chill Out that’s like this weird ambient house album that’s filled with all these uncleared samples from Elvis and other big name oldies acts- the original album has never been officially rereleased because it’s chock full of all these uncleared samples and highly illegal to sell. They’re a kinda crazy rabbit hole to go down. But they have quite the band story…give it a google if you’re bored.
Q4. Let’s talk a little Eddy El Dorado. The Enemy of the State. This is a hidden gem. Seriously. Anything you want to put on the record regarding this? Did the CD sell on Craigslist? I’m getting Daniel Johnston teleportation / Madchester vibes – at least initially. But that’s an oversimplification. Beautiful rocque or folk oriented music. Did you have a homerecording frenzy during the pandemic?
There’s not much I can say about Eddy El Dorado. He’s a wanted man so I have to be brief.
I met him at a honky-tonk in the Adirondacks. He’s said some terrible things i can’t repeat but part of me thinks he’s a genius.
If he could talk i bet he’d say something like “Enemy of the State is streaming on apple music now”
Q5. American Tarragon Radio is the best radio show in America broadcasting on Spark Radio Syracuse. How’d this come about and what’s your mission statement?
Spark is a really cool community oriented, non-commercial institution in Syracuse that runs a radio station that broadcasts on two FM channels in Syracuse. I reached out to them last fall about hosting a show and they were kind enough to indulge me.
I have a weekly hour-long show where I play whatever has been pleasing me and each show is archived at https://www.mixcloud.com/americantarragon/. There’s a bunch of really good, eclectic music being played on their station. By far the best station in Syracuse.
Even if no one listens to the show i get off on the fact that i get to shoot my favorite songs out onto radio waves through the atmosphere and up into space. The electromagnetic spectrum is trippy, man.
Q6. Getting back to the Furry Frat show / where you are performance-wise. I get a feeling that you don’t feel limited in what you can do? For those who missed it and love details and techniques (but also mystery), can you give a little speel on what we bore witness?
I call it my karaoke set. I essentially just play Healers co. instrumental tracks with the vocals and synth lines cut out. Then I sing and play a few blips on the synth over top for my “performance.” I don’t take it too seriously. I kinda realized the more fun i have when i’m performing the more fun it is for the people in the room.
The full version of the Healers set will be hopefully coming this spring/summer. My best bud Jack is the other member of Healers.
It will be crazy if anyone will let us play their basement.
Also we’re finishing a Greatest Hits / Covers album that will hopefully be done in the not so distant future.
Q7. Alright Will – any last plugs, anything I might have forgotten, or updates on present & future journeys and endeavors?
Me and Jack have a new business we started called Eternal Clubhouse. It’s becoming one of the most successful pages on instagram (@eternalclubhouse – please follow us). It’s amazing what hard work, perseverance, and buying followers can lead to.
We’ve also been giving back to the community by teaching ambient musicians how to improve the quality of their music and work smarter, not harder.
Gavin Caine is the next ‘Indie Darling’ of the 2020s. But the Allston punk rocker isn’t satisfied with stopping there. Catch their band “Kitty F*****s” at O’Briens Pub on Monday Night – March 28th. I had to see what the fuss was about.
Q1. Alright Gavin – thanks for the time here. You’ve clearly already made it – some of your records are reviewed on YouTube by an obsessive fan – but for those who might not be in the know…what bands/projects/endeavors are you in RIGHT NOW and what do you have to say about them? Brad said that in Kitty Fuckers you are making marionettes of your mates.
Aye thanks a million for reaching out! A good question.. I often can’t keep track myself. Right now the live circuit is Dew’s “The Calendars”, Brad’s “death Snail”, myself and Brad’s “Kitty Fuckers”, and our buddy Sam’s “Jim Rat”. Recording is my favorite piece of it all, so on that front Dew, myself, and co. have been cooking up the latest Calendars, and Brad has entrusted me in handling his next “solo record”, both of which are surly destined to alter time and space itself. I also just made a record with my lifelong pal Pictoria Vark which is gonna pop out in a few weeks.I’m always making music on my own on top of it all, and I just put out my fourth record a few weeks back!
Q2. Give me 3 OG (old time) influences and 3 modern influences on you? Music or otherwise.What I do has always been sort of a cosmic mix of The Beach Boyz n Beatles, and my first record was pretty much if a computer listened to every Guided by Voices song and was programmed to make 14 more. These days the list grows longer than ever but of Montreal and Cardiacs have been my latest obsessions. I’ve also recently been put on to country by the sneaky hands of our Dewey Myron.
Q3. When did you first become acquainted with Denizen Records? What makes it so seemingly easy to work (play ?) with Brad and Dew and others? I entered the Deni-Sphere via Brad, when we met in college long ago. We made a noisycore band called At Stan’s Bris in 2019 that taught me everything I know about rock n roll and excessively making albums, and from then on the floodgates opened. Denizen Records is one of my favorite aspects of what we do up here in Boston.. in a way it’s a chronicle of our lives since we’ve all known each other. Brad and Dew are two of the greatest and sexiest guys I know. Making music with them is like drinking sweet tea on a hot summer’s day. I feel very grateful to be a part of their respective madnesses.
Q4. How much do you love writing music? Is it all you do? I’ve heard rumors that you’re basically trying to turn the Furry Frat into the Brill Building of the 2020s. Feel free to sing the praises of Furry Frat. Also just thought of it – y’ever get self conscious about showing stuff to your mates or is it as loosey goosey as the imagination wanders.
Writing music is something we often partake in at the furry frat. We’re trying to hit our yearly quota of 10,000 songs a year, collectively, or else Big Music will kick us off the airwaves. When we aren’t writing, we’re recording our next #1 or rehearsing for the upcoming Super Bowl LVII Halftime Performance. One of the greatest parts of working with the gang is there are no subjects we haven’t written about. It’s all love here.
Q5. What are your thoughts on the current underground musical landscape in Allston/Boston and in the greater world? Where do you see your place in the continuum. Are you a lifer of the DIY or do you have aspirations to play Roadrunner and TD Garden? Is Bandcamp the best platform out there?
The current Allston world has changed a lot over the years.. these days I’m most involved with what we do. We’re just doing it for kicks and I wouldn’t wanna change that at all. I’ve no idea what the future holds, but every new record we make becomes our new best record, at least I think, so I always look forward to the next thing.
Q6. Have you hit the road before? Any plans? What’s next? Thanks Gavin! Never done a proper tour, but we’d love to get out there. I’m beginning to put together a band of my own called The Alaskas that I’m excited to play around. Lots of new records in the works and Phase 1 of taking over the world and beyond is nearly complete. Thanks so much Glen – your interviews are the greatest!
I wanted to get to the bottom of the cult of Denizen Records – reading their website , perusing a lengthy Bandcamp discography, and shows at the Furry Frat (and elsewhere). Brad was nice enough to answer some questions from the bathroom of his workplace. Thanks buddy.
Q1. Thanks for the interview DENIZEN RECORDS. I’m going to link to your website, which is amazing in its early internet glory. A BRUTALIST website in 2022. So from flipping around on there I’ve gathered that DENIZEN RECORDS started in the North Shore (Massachusetts?) in 2016, maybe as a high school collective of music nerds? Is that on point? Relatedly, there are tons of bands / projects / whatever on DENIZEN RECORDS. There’s a lot of information and a lot of music. Currently or even historically, was/is there a core group of you that are in all of these bands and would you like to identify yourself?
Glenn. Thanks again for the interview , it is an honor to be the ee of an esteemed publication such as this and sorry again for the delay. First off you’ve got us all figured out throughout all these questions. My friend Sean Burke started denizen back then and it had a major internet success (punk against trump) along with releases from some high school related bands. After that I kind of usurped it (evil tyrant style) and the breadth of dzn015 and onwards are derived from torments near and dear to me and my friends Q2. Just to dwell on the past for a little bit – what was the dynamic or impetus for starting all of these bands and releasing music? Any ‘influences’ in the game of high volume releases? Or with having a sense of humour about it all. Some might call it ‘A Joke’. Now that I think of it I may have stumbled across y’all years back when I used to browse Bandcamp for new music. I always thought – “shit, this is a lot to digest.” I wondered who was behind it.
It’s great you found it all those years back.
One thing I’ll say for denizen is random people have a knack for coming across it . It’s definitely one of those things where 5 people in the world would die for the cause but all
The 14 year olds on tik tok are gonna be in the darkness . There’s been many instances of people reaching out to us from various circles of hell . Beggars can’t be choosers !Your other question – a joke me and Gavin have after writing a song is asking each other , “what part of my brain wrote this? ” I.e. Is this kitty fuckers or death snail or what . Lol
Q3. Let’s fast forward to 2022. In addition to being a label, you’ve got some shows planned for this winter/spring. At some hot legit venues like O’Briens, Charlies Kitchen, sure. But also FURRY FRAT. Is it safe to say that the non-traditional venue known as FURRY FRAT is home base or HQ for Denizen Records? Can you give a little history of this lovely spot? I hadn’t heard of it until I was blessed to come and fill in for Matt in DBC (Dirty Babies Club) on a whim at the Fuzzstival afterparty. It seemed to be a mix of partychasing young adults and aged/seasoned show-goers. Classic.
What a classic night. The furry frat is the bane of my existence but it’s the only thing saving rock and roll from the tik tok teens and the yuppy scum buying up venues everywhere with their Berklee parents money . I’ve lived in Boston my whole life and it’ll be sad to see all the real music fade away to be replaced by aforementioned yuppy scum , but they gotta put a new tatte somewhere I guess . And who’s gonna write the soundtrack .
Q4. Also a more modern question. Indulge me a bit in your own words of the DENIZEN/associated bands that are or will be actively playing out in this post-pandemic environment. KITTY FUCKERS and DEATH SNAIL – I’m seeing these pop up from Denizen. But also seems like you have a kinship with THE CALENDARS/DEW MYRON, and maybe some of the ole TRIXIES PALACE gang. I’m just an outsider, so please enlighten me on these connections.
If you like Death snail , you’ll love death snail live . I’m excited for kitty cause that’s also Gavin’s songs and he’s the one making marionettes of us all . Dewey is the best song writer I’ve ever met and together we make tres amigos I guess . I miss the dbc and trixy days . But rumor has it we’ll play a couple reunion shows. You know Neil said better to burn out than to fade away
Q5. Oh yes – are you just releasing stuff digitally or have there been tapes / records / mini discs / other arcane formats? Wouldn’t put that kind of stuff past you.
Death snail was originally all tape only , there’s over a hundred songs on those tapes which are my favorite things I’ve ever made . I think they’re all gone but I have the masters if on the off chance anyone ever wanted to print more
Q6. This is a guest question submitted by all the shitty music blogs. What do you make of the Boston underground music scene? It seems like there’s a bevy of basements actively putting on shows. Is it like a family or little isolated nooks? Is it better than the North Shore Music Scene (TM-trademark)? I’m from the North Shore and there seems to be a solid tradition of Pop Punk and Emo Screamo, dating back to at least the 90s or 2000s. Surely that’s growing up in Boston. Imagine growing up in Memphis with Goner Records and The Barbaras? Would I be off in saying that you may have been a part of that pop punker tradition, but evolved to a broader landscape of experimentalism/weirder shit? I appreciate everyone’s journey.
When I was In high school my first band was a north shore pop punk thing. It was the best band I’ve ever been in cause it was high school and all we cared about was punk and girls , both of which very far out of our reach . Now we’re all so jaded but I try to be as pure as I was back then . The scene now as I’ve mentioned sucks , every house you gotta submit an application to Berklee and fill out 3 Google docs to get a presale. thats the only thing keeping the furry frat going though I’m getting too old for this shit . sorry if this sounds more deranged than usual I’m typing really fast in the bathroom of work!
Thanks again Glenn
Yours , Bradford ^^THE END^^
UPCOMING DENIZEN-RELATED SHOWS:
MONDAY, MARCH 21 – CHARLIE’S KITCHEN – NICE GUYS, DEATH SNAIL, BETTY MOODY
SATURDAY, MARCH 26 – FURRY FRAT – CORPOREAL, RANDY AND THE SHOWER STEAM, X-RAY SIERRA, SATCHEL + CAMILO
MONDAY, MARCH 28 – O’BRIENS PUB – KITTY FUCKERS, G. GORDON GRITTY, BLUES DREAM BOX
ALEX WALTON PLAYS THE FURRY FRAT (BOSTON) ON FRIDAY MARCH 18th – 8:30 PM – WITH THE CALENDARS, WILL MC HEEL, AND G. GORDON GRITTY. GRITTY CAUGHT UP W/ ALEX. SEE BELOW:
q1 – YOUTH AGAINST SATAN , thank you for this. Please introduce yourself(s) however you wish – is this an individual or a collective effort? According to some slight research, it appears that 2017 was the starting point with Hands Highway. Is that right on or was there stuff before then associated with YOUTH AGAINST SATAN.
My name is Alex Walton, and I started Youth Against Satan in 2018 as an impromptu “record label” in order to create an overarching collection for the various musical projects I had done up to that point, namely Hands Highway, Semper Games, GSB, and under my own name. As time progressed, I started releasing music by my friends through it.
q2. Relatedly to the above – sorry if it’s come up a bit before in past interviews and media spells – South By South Wests and things – but the name YAS stands out. If you are at liberty to talk more on that. But if not, I was, too, wondering if Boston has always been homebase, if it is currently?
We are called Youth Against Satan because we are vehemently against Satan, Lucifer, the Dark Lord, forces of hate, evil, nihilism, unTruth, and as such, we try to create love, good, purpose, striving towards the Truth In All Things. There’s so much shit out there that wants you to kill yourself, and we want to work against that. This doesn’t mean to be saccharine and gleeful at all times, I think you know what I mean. Redeeming, not deprecating. A song can save a life.
I started YAS in Boston, yes. Where it will go, if it goes anywhere, I am not sure. I’ve never been so good at predictions.
q3. Amazing music by the way. Noise pop, Proto or Post punk, surf, a little garage spirit that’s right up our alley so I’m inclined to think we’ve been missing the boat on your stuff – Group Sounds, Alex Walton, etc, etc – ; pre-pandemic were you playing shows in Boston / touring? Feel definitely free to give a run down/description or timeline of YAS associated bands.
All of us have not played as nearly as many shows, pre- or post- killer virus, as we would have liked to, this city is rough for booking and short for venues. There were a small handful of GSB performances before and a handful after, but GSB has run its course and has been dismantled for the time being. AWSMASB (alex walton shame music all star band) has been getting a decent amount of shows, but people in this city need to wake up and book our other artists like Vim and Grilltones. We have had a lot more success booking and playing shows in New York with our friends John Variety and Matt Danger Lippmann (who incidentally just played a fantastic show here last week with Winkler), but it’s still rough out here.
q3a. Have YAS releases all been digital or any tapes, vinyl, other mediums at play? Any upcoming releases?
All digital file transfers as of yet, but there are plans for vinyl, CDs, a Group Sounds Band movie, a Youth Against Satan restaurant, Vim Jordan 4s, Jaden Cruz McDonald’s Signature meal, a SHAME MUSIC video game, Michael Grill AR-15, etc etc. whenever we may be given enough money to make it happen.
I am in the midst of producing a secret Jaden Cruz project, as well as a new Alex Walton ep/album/something with some remixes and special guests which should release sometime this spring. Lots of music videos.
q4. Alex Walton Band is playing at Furry Frat Friday March 18th – anything we can or cannot expect? Based on some bandcamp listens I so much feel the basement energy and getting in that spirit. Any preference of these underground gigs to their aboveboard counterparts?
Expect a lonesome desert town in a pink glow. Expect an overabundance. Expect to find the love of your life. Expect seeing someone on stage fully invested in Quixotic ideals of pop music as art. Come with mirth in your heart and wish for nothing, you’ll find what you really want.
The places themselves do not matter as much as how they sound. Most “venues” in Boston have not ideal sound people working much less than ideal PAs and try to run your entire band through a couple of shit monitors. I prefer all the elements to speak for themselves in an intimate space. I like playing at bars that give me drink tickets.
q5. Want to shout out what I see as a love of Alan Vega, Devo — is there a general kinship of protopunk & stuff of the like? And other modern musical favorites or even older, obscurer, whatever, things like that you feel aligned with on some level?
Proto, post, whatever, the goal of pop music is transcendental Truth, and these descriptors mean nothing except division and abstraction away from this goal. We all want the same thing at the end of the day, to make someone somewhere at some time listen and feel and understand and be understood. I appreciate those who can create deep immediate significance from the most primal and obvious, and I don’t have much patience for “complex” and erudite music that loses what makes this all work.
I am aligned with Groucho Marx, Harpo Marx, Chico Marx, Zeppo Marx (in that order), Arthur Rimbaud, Candy Darling, Egon Schiele, my bandmates Brendan and Jaden, everyone on YAS (especially Vim), Winkler, will.i.am, Liam and Jori from Comet Pond, the Modern Warfare 3 ads with Eminem, John V Variety, Lou Reed, Matthew Danger Lippmann, Takashi Mizutani, Patrick Gray, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Adrian Borland, and all other truth-telling liars and previous incarnations of myself.