Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Careening art-rock/new-wave mutant MadLove is a Brooklyn assemblage cobbled together by out-jazz gadfly and out-metal cult hero Trevor Dunn. While Dunn is primarily known for his deconstructionist metal in Fantomas and Mr. Bungle, MadLove is a strictly rock-‘n’-roll affair–stomping beats, knotty riffs, and soaring hooks courtesy of the Bjorkian Sunny Kim. But just because he’s not vivisecting a diminished seventh doesn’t mean it’s not smart. At the music’s core are the hooks of brainy bands like X and the Pretenders–think about the gentle touch with which Blondie executed those measures of 7/4 in the middle of “Heart Of Glass.” MadLove’s “Absence & Noise” gets its brand of intellectual gas from a vibraphone/keyboard twinkle interlocking with guitarist Hilmar Jensson, but its cry of isolation comes via pure, big-harmony, full-release pop.
What is this song about?
It’s about a flood in which a household, specifically, a lounge room with lava lamps and a pool table, is filled with ocean water. The levee breaks and starfish and plankton make their way into realms they only inhabited back in the good ol’ days before human consciousness was clouded by fear and regret. Sometimes when no one is around is when things get the loudest.
What was the inspiration?
I always loved that record Candy-O by the Cars. Incredible songwriting, really cool lyrics and production that continues to blow my mind 30 years later. And, yes, I’ve actually been listening to that record, among others, for 30 years. This was one of the first songs I wrote when initially venturing into creating a new record out of nothing. I almost tossed it before we made it into the studio, but realized that, in it’s simplicity, I could attempt to refine it with reverb, compression, and a zillion micro guitar parts.
You’re not known for your vocal work, what were the challenges in stepping up to the mic?
Building confidence. I only wrote one song for myself to sing lead because, despite doing more singing at home in the past few years, I wasn’t sure how it was going to come off in the studio, under scrutiny as it were. Stepping up in front of an audience is even more daunting. But, we all know that there are some incredible vocalists, who are, in fact, not very good singers. That is no obstacle in their ability to convey a lyric, a spirit or a certain energy to an audience. And that is what draws us to them, right?
In your 25 years of playing, what’s your most memorable New York show?
I did a week with an early line-up of John Zorn’s Masada at a small cafe in the East Village somewhere around 1997. There was no cover charge and we played two sets every night in the back corner to a sparse crowd in the middle of summer. I was still living in California at the time and I was like a deer in headlights; fingers blistered, ego crushed, emotions batted around, and sick with adrenalin. One of the most formative and inspiring weeks of my life.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
Bonnies, Al Di La, Chip Shop, Mura, Matamoros, Ba Xuyen, Beer Table. One for each day of the week.