Although one song on Art Brut's 2005 debut Bang Bang Rock & Roll is called "Moving to L.A.," front man Eddie Argos admits he never thought his pogo-happy UK quintet would really exchange London for Southern California.
"We thought, 'Oh, America. We're never gonna come here again,'" he laughs. "So we did all the fun things — stayed at the Hyatt and hung out on the Sunset Strip, all those clichés. Now it turns out we're in America much more than we're in Britain."
A few months ago, Art Brut found themselves in a part of America they never dreamed they'd visit — the sleepy, misty town of Salem, Oregon, where they recorded latest album Art Brut vs. Satan with former Pixies front man Black Francis in his home studio for a down-and-dirty 12 days. Here the Pixies man helped them fine-tune their raw punk-pop sound into a powerful 11-song punch that never lulls.
"I get quite bored in the studio," admits Argos. "I like to sing a song and be done. And that's how [Francis] records [with his band] the Catholics. The first Catholics album, they did it in one take. So we were thinking, if we're going to record in this sort of style, who's the expert in that?"
The band unanimously decided on Francis, with whom they'd played a handful of gigs.
"We got in touch with him and said, 'Could you please produce our album because you're really good at doing it like that and that's how we want to do it?' And he was, like, 'Yeah!'" Argos gushes. "So we just rocked up with our equipment and played the songs."
In addition to his quick-take approach, Francis is also known for his unique gift for lyrical rhythm and syncopation, and juxtaposing screeching guitars with quiet, melodic moments, which helped establish the Pixies as one of the most influential alternative-rock forces of the late 1980s and early 1990s (and which Nirvana famously cited as a major influence).
When asked why he agreed to work with the young London quintet, Francis says many things attracted him.
"In terms of the vocal presentation of Eddie Argos, it's really special," he says from his Oregon home, where his three young children are climbing on his lap. "There aren't many people that can break down melody into something that's more about rhythm. I can think of two great examples: Mark E. Smith of The Fall and Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols.
"People say Eddie's just talking his lyrics, but that's an oversimplification of what he does," adds Francis. "If he was just talking his words, it'd be a lot more boring and it wouldn't suck you in in a musical way. Not too many people can get away with that."
Halloween isn't until next weekend, but there's so much stuff going on we thought we'd help you get a head start. First of all, you're all invited to our own Houston Press Halloween party Friday, October 30, in House of Blues's Bronze Peacock Room featuring vatobillies the Flamin' Hellcats. The next night, there's God & Guns rebels Lynyrd Skynyrd at Galveston's Moody Gardens, Minneapolis MySpace sensation Owl City at Meridian (also home to a special Halloween edition of the Rent DJ party) and post-hardcore twin killing Brand New and Thrice at Verizon. Or the back-from-the-dead Meat Puppets at Rudyard's, "Hallow Scream Fest" at White Swan with Prophecy, Torsectomy, Brutally Mutilated and more, or Organ Failure and Rusted Shut helping (loudly) turn Super Happy Fun Land into "Spooky Haunted Fright Lair." You know Numbers' "Underground Vampire's Ball" will be chillingly good, but across the street Mango's is promising live animal sacrifice and demon summoning at its "Monster Bash." Oh, and karaoke.
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1. Immortal, All Shall Fail (CD)
2. Boris/9DW, split LP/CD
3. Jim O'Rourke, The Visitor (LP)
4. Carcass, Demos 1986-1987 (LP)
5. Napalm Death, Demos 1985-1986 (LP)
6. The Oh Sees, Dog Poison (LP)
7. Times New Viking, Born Again Revisited (LP/CD)
8. Circulatory System, Signal Down (CD)
9. TV Ghost, Cold Fish (LP)
10. Jana Hunter/Inoculist, split 7"
1. Taylor Swift, "You Belong With Me"
2. Kings of Leon, "Use Somebody"
3. Black Eyed Peas, "I Gotta Feeling"
4. Jay Sean feat. Lil Wayne, "Down"
5. Miley Cyrus, "Party in the USA"
6. Daughtry, "No Surprise"
7. Jason DeRulo, "Whatcha Say"
8. Lady Gaga, "Paparazzi"
9. Jordin Sparks, "Battlefield"
10. Pink, "Please Don't Leave Me"
(lists compiled by Chris Gray)
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