Street Eater’s badass new album is relentlessly raw and heavy, and I was stoked to hear the East Bay duo’s latest rippers alongside favorites at The Redwood. Holy crap, they are one of my favorite bands ever, empowered by straight-up DIY punk via Gilman and pushed over the top by the two-way animalistic empowerment that happens between two human beings who dominate at their instruments. Did I mention that their lyrics are smarter than shit? So good.
There were two great openers, too. Nerve Beats are a somewhat jazz-infected, melodic punk trio in the tradition of the Minutemen and Nomeansno. Coming all the way from Honolulu, of course they were really nice dudes as well. I bought some hand-burned CD-Rs and really dig ‘em. I’d tell you which songs especially rule if the titles were listed somewhere.
Holy crap, the new Street Eaters LP is perfect. From the backwards-masked vortex that leads into “Reverse,” one is immediately sucked into a brutally even struggle between drumstick wielder Megan March and guitar killer John No–each trading animalistic vocals as they trade primal beats and post-punk riffs like heavyweight boxers trading blows. And just as there’s no time for musical filler, there’s no space for lyrical stupidity, either. The sound may be rough but the songs are smart and solid and suitable for those of us who grew up on indie punk as well as the crusty kids that use dental floss to sew patches onto their black Army surplus jackets.
After listening to the brand-new, hand-stamped CD (that comes in a stitched jacket) for weeks nonstop, I shot over some questions to the real-life couple/post-punk pair. Naturally, they answered my queries as a duo and from the road. Can’t wait until they finally roll into SoCal next month…
Blood::Muscles::Bones is a pretty stark title. Or does science necessarily equal bleakness?
The title was intended to evoke the bare necessities of life–in a sense, cutting out all the extra baggage that holds us back. Blood, muscles, and bones are vital components of the body that are found in every part of it and are always growing, changing, and moving. That sense of movement+change is also key to understanding how we approached making this record, which is about self-preservation and survival. I’m not sure if it was intended to feel bleak; rather, strong and real. Sometimes, if you want to build yourself to a place of strength, you have to face the bleakness head-on and accept it for what it is.
That first song is a real ass kicker! Street Eaters’ sound isn’t about studio tricks in any way, but the backwards tape part is so perfect for a song called “Reverse.” Can you tell me about that?
We do like to keep things raw and intense, which is something that can totally be lost along the way with a lot of studio tricks. We recorded onto 2-inch analog tape at Buzz or Howl Studios with Stan Wright, keeping things driving, and he did an old-school board mix in the studio. Non-digital, so if we wanted to change something we’d have to set the levels and mix it all over again from scratch. We decided to do the intro for “Reverse” after the song was already recorded, and we had a minute to think about it. We basically just picked a part of the song and ran it backwards, did some wild stereo panning, and it sounded perfect.
After being impressed by the Street Eaters’ opening set for forgetters at the Echo earlier this year, I began corresponding with the guitarist and scored some of the duo’s vinyl output. I found the records to be honest, touching, and punk as hell–worth hearing in a non-blown-out, moderately engineered setting. The powerful give-and-take between Megan March and Johnny Geek’s ruthless drums, catchy guitars, and vocals serve as a potent reminder that all you need is two people to form a gang, start a fight, or make rad music, and the new album, Rusty Eyes and Hydrocarbons, cranks it up yet another notch. The band is touring in support of it, so I had to hit them up on the road.
MW: Coming off 7″ singles, split singles, and an EP, what was your approach to recording your first full-length album?
JG: We liked the idea of building into a debut full-length gradually, and we really tightened up our whole ship to make the album as great as possible. We had the split with White Night first, and then the We See Monsters EP. Around a year later, we put out the split with Severance Package and the “Ashby and Shattuck” 7″ picture disc. The whole time, we were writing, recording, and editing the stuff that would eventually end up on the album. It was all a very deliberate process of building up to a killer full-length.
MM: We recorded the record in several chunks so we could step back, view it, and envision what songs should be written and recorded to make it more complete.
MW: Is “Two Heads” about the movie The Thing with Two Heads, your band, or something else altogether?
MM: You’d probably have to ask Grace Slick. “Two Heads” is a Jefferson Airplane cover. But we interpret it to be a pro-feminist, anti-religious fundamentalist song. We also like it because it is weird.