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by Jon Langmead

23 Mar 2008


Photo: Meg Sheff-Atteberry

Photo: Meg Sheff-Atteberry

PopMatters has had plenty of nice things to say about Baltimore’s the Oranges Band (specifically here and here. When the band announced that they were headed into the studio to begin work on their new record, having soldiered through personnel changes and struggles at their label, Lookout Records, it seemed like an excellent time to catch up and to allow them to speak for themselves by cataloging the happenings. Over the next several weeks, Oranges Band frontman Roman Kuebler will write in with updates from the sessions for the band’s third full-length. Judging from the preview of the songs that the band gave at a recent show at Cake Shop in New York City, the arrangements are denser and the lyrics step a city block away from the sundazed atmospherics of their last album. Always an excellent live band, I’ve never heard them sound better. The hope now is that Kuebler will help us better understand the process, or at least the process in this specific case, of taking a group of people and a set of songs and bringing them into a studio for a set amount of days, singing and playing into microphones, plugging and unplugging effects boxes, adjusting levels, hoping nothing important breaks or gets lost or erased, and then, hopefully, walking out with a finished document that comes close to your expectations and which you can then turn around and call your new album.
Jon Langmead

caption

Doug and I met in NY to rehearse the new Oranges Band material. We had a couple shows scheduled before we hit the studio. My best pal Rachel from Palomar let us use their practice space to get our crap together. There was a minor commotion caused by new kittens… who can resist?!

The Name of This Band Is The Oranges Band

So we’re making this album and when making an album it’s important to remember that a recording is a factual document for the most part. It is the representation of a performance that happened for real. (It’s important to remember that when listening to an album also.) It is a point of view that doesn’t necessarily change anything but it does, for better or worse, kind of level the playing field. So, no matter what the budget, or where it was done, when the engineer hit the record button, David Bowie physically performed the lead vocal to “Young Americans”. (It is also rather funny to think about this fact when you hear it come on the PA at K-Mart while shopping for household items.)

by Harlem Shakes

1 Mar 2007


Harlem Shakes w/ Deerhoof
Diary #7

The last days of tour felt like the last days of summer camp.

Busdriver‘s last show was Winston-Salem. After we’d all sadly exchanged goodbyes, Brent and Satomi from Deerhoof suggested a group picture. Satomi urged us to build a human pyramid for the occasion.

by Harlem Shakes

22 Feb 2007


Harlem Shakes w/ Deerhoof
Diary #6

The van smelt funny today.

When last we spoke, the subject of our discontent was THE NOISE. The noise is the total lack of silence on tour, and its result is mild insanity. But today we couldn’t help but shout over the constant chattin’ and iPod shufflin’ that something smelt awful—not funny… awful. Thevandra has become a moving dungeon, a pit of sounds and smells that puts Hades, or CBGB‘s for that matter, to shame.

But, at last, we arrived in Athens.

by Harlem Shakes

20 Feb 2007


Harlem Shakes w/ Deerhoof
Diary #5

Being in a band with five go-getters means that someone always wants to show the other guys some cool new music (“dude, have you guys heard “Mental Perturbation” by Morton Feldman”), tell a joke (“how many indie rockers does it take to screw in a light bulb? What—you don’t know? Yeah… you should really go check that out”) or point out a sign that says something like “No Jesus No Peace, Know Jesus Know Peace.” Such fun can turn a good Shake bad.

To counteract all this over-stimulating, anxiety-attack-inducing fun, we’ve been taking solo walks around venue neighborhoods, putting on Jose’s gigantic, ear-enveloping headphones, and, like we did today, heading to the Gainesville public library to visit separate sections.

by Harlem Shakes

19 Feb 2007


Harlem Shakes w/ Deerhoof
Diary #4

Hey Internets. As we get into the heart of our journey, it’s time we took care of some of the crew. No account of this tour would be complete without mentioning Peter Venuto’s glorious Electronic Rainbow Machine (ERM). Finally, someone has created the thinking man’s pyrotechnics. Each night we watch Deerhoof perform in front of this five-foot diameter circular rainbow, pulsing in time to the music.

It’s an incredible contraption—a three-pronged windmill with multicolored lights on each tab. When the windmill spins, it creates a sentient wall of color that whooshes, spins, and twitches—a perfect complement to Deerhoof’s cheerful paroxysms. His machine is the way we imagine the inside of Deerhoof’s collective band brain might look like.

And then there’s Peter Venuto himself, the friendly longhaired Canadian who operates the ERM live each night. (He got the idea for the rainbow machine, apparently, from early-computer-style player piano reels, and, not surprisingly, Las Fucking Vegas!) Crouched next to the band, wearing striped velvet pants and a zip-up sweatshirt with a tank-top underneath, Peter runs his fingers over a little pad of buttons that triggers the machine’s many subtle functions.

Deerhoof first befriended Peter after they witnessed his “trashlights”—trashcan lids outfitted 250 tiny LED lights that create an undulating, similarly colorful effect—and now he’s part of our big touring family, showing up at every gig with his magical windmill.

The crowd in Tampa Bay—where neither our new tourmate Busdriver, nor us, nor Deerhoof has ever been—was one of the tour’s absolute best. A fan built a purple rubber dinosaur for Deerhoof and gave it to Satomi who beamed with gratitude.

Last night we slept in a motel in Orlando that had a special rate for serial killers. We wistfully recalled the days when four-on-the-floor meant a dance-punk beat, not a sleeping arrangement. We woke up, and more than half the band (Jose, Todd, Kendrick) went to Disney World to protest Disney’s conservative politics and ride totally fucking awesome roller coasters. Lexy and Brent sought quiet places in which to hear the inside of their heads for the first time in many, many days.

Love for now,

 

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