Saturday night at Mango's, sIngs debuts its new EP, Hells, to what is sure to be a full house. Also on the bill are the reawakened Sharks & Sailors, Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Young Mammals and B L A C K I E. Casiotone was to play a gig at The Husk next to Khon's, but when that venue went into turnaround in the last few weeks, their set was tacked onto the Mango's show. The project was initially a one-man deal, with lead singer Brett Taylor concocting all the sounds until he decided to recruit friends from various bands around town, like the three members of Buxton he hijacked to help out him out live and in the studio. Hells is a quick ride, but the trip is heartbreaking and winning. It's a cohesive piece of work that is over way too soon for us. It's the sound of being damaged, but not broken. We asked a Taylor a few questions about the history of sIngs, the recording and tone of Hells and whats the haps the band for the rest of the year, which will include a split single with Caddywhompus. We are also debuting a new facet of Listology where we ask artists to make a "Sophie's Choice," as it were, between two different songs with the same titles.
Rocks Off: What's the lineage of sIngs? How did this project start?
Brett Taylor: sIngs started as something to do in my room. I had no real plan to do anything with the songs or sounds I made when I was alone. When the band I was in at the time, By The End of Tonight, stopped I wanted to learn a way to play the songs I had written in a live setting.
Mostly, I wanted to do this without having to rely on anyone but myself. This meant that I ended up playing drums, guitar, loops, tambourine, and singing all at the same time. This was just stressful. I eventually asked some good friends to join the band and write some parts to make a bigger sound. I really was in love with the result. We did all of that, and now we have an EP.
RO: Give us some of the elements that went into the EP. What colored the music?
BT: I feel like the detail gave the songs a lot of color. Little overdubs, feedback, vocal effects (sometimes) and mistakes. The contrast of the male and female vocals, group vocals, extra drums, loops. A lot of things were added on the fly, as well. I feel like some of the lyrical content gives it the darker feel. Also, (producer) Chris Ryan has a lot of really cool ideas.
RO: What's the background on some of the songs? We dig "Don't Regret The Thing You Done."
BT: "Don't Regret the Thing You Done" is about destroying something that is perfectly fair and fine, but is not making you completely happy. So you flip it upside down and ruin it, see everything that falls out, and don't regret it. I guess the song is about violently forcing your way out of something.
The absence of the "s" at the end of "Thing" is kind of a subtle way of making fun of a person who is a big part of the mess. So much for subtlety. "You're" is about a feeling. It's like actively scolding a feeling I get sometimes, and trying to describe it and understand it. Being mad at it and sending it off. Though it seems to be about a person, it's not.
RO: What is the plan for the rest of the year?
The plan for the rest of the year is play more shows than we used to. Get the EP out to more people. See what happens, and all while playing in other bands. Jason and Justin are both in Buxton, which is a busy band. David plays in a couple bands other than sIngs, one being Wife, which is really cool stuff.
Hopefully we will do a short tour in the late summer around Texas and Louisiana. I also have a new seven-inch split with Caddywhompus. We plan to have a release show for it pretty soon!
Next, we force Taylor to choose between Zeppelin and the Stones, Thin Lizzy and Joan Jett, Paul Simon and Neil Diamond and more...
Taylor: I don't care much for either of these songs. If I had to choose one, it would be the "(Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo) Heartbreaker" by the Stones. I love the horn section in the chorus. Also, the "doo doo doo doo" part is very, very catchy. The "Heartbreaker" by Zeppelin is just too obnoxious for my taste.
Taylor: I adore "Our House" by CSN&Y. As far as I can tell, it is a very happy and appreciative song. I'm fairly certain that I'm not missing any hidden dark meanings with this one. It's just a simple song. I really enjoy the smoothness of their vocals along with such happy-go-lucky lyrics and gentle piano. It just feels good, in this case.
Taylor: Joan Jett. This is for only one reason: her "Bad Reputation" is the intro song for Freaks and Geeks. I've watched that series all the way through at least 5 times. When I hear the song, even though it is a pretty annoying song, I feel happy. I feel like I'm sitting down to watch the cast have their goofy pictures taken. And you can't help but admire Joan Jett's not giving a damn.
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Taylor: Paul Simon's "America" is perfect. A couple of people looking for the ideal. It begins with such hope, but ends in realization that what they are looking for is the same thing that everyone is in pursuit of. They are not changing the world or doing anything new at all. It is sort of a droopy song, to me. I strongly dislike Neil Diamond's "America."
Taylor: "Drive" by The Cars is cheesy and wonderful. Fittingly enough, I often play this song when I am driving at night. It just feels good and right for what is probably a goofy reason. I do enjoy R.E.M. quite a bit, but in this instance I'm going with The Cars. Just going with the gut.