Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Pop. 1280 are the post-punky, crust-flicking Booger Dawsons of the new wave of Brooklyn Birthday Party skronkmos–slow, lurching, tribal, skeletal, slightly unhinged. Similar bands like recent Hardly Art signees Golden Triangle and YIMBY graduates Preacher And The Knife have been turning Death By Audio into their private Nick Cave-flavored Junkyard for a while. But Pop. 1280 is definitely the sickest, the band most likely to spit in their hand before they shake yours. Their music is intentionally grungey, dismal, and icky–a sound that fondly remembers that punk rock is supposed to be gross. Says lead singer Chris Bug, “Before I lived in New York, I was living in Shanghai, China, which is a seriously filthy city. I think this undercurrent of filth and sewage and parasites is the most fascinating part of city life and it is something that inspires all of our music.” Their debut 7″, Bedbugs, is a self-released frightmare that captures New York’s layers of filth perfectly. Recorded live in a room with very few overdubs at Brooklyn’s Seaside Lounge, “Bedbugs” hinges on a disgusting, farty Flipper bassline and vividly discusses a very real, very current problem in New York’s itchy underbelly.
What is “Bedbugs” about?
Ivan Lip, guitarist: I think it’s just about bedbugs.
Chris Bug, vocalist: The I-man wrote the lyrics for this one, but when I sing the song I always imagine a desperate person, sitting by themselves in some Blade Runner-esque urban wasteland.
What inspired the song?
Lip: I work as a social worker doing housing for low-income/disabled adults. One problem that you have when people live in large buildings packed closely together, when a building is run by a slumlord, or when people in the building don’t have enough money to deal with bugs properly, is infestations spread fast and are hard to get rid of. Throughout New York right now there’s a bedbug epidemic, and it’s something that I deal with regularly in my day-to-day work. During the period we were writing this song I had a bunch of clients who had bedbugs, so I would spend hours a day in a protective suit throwing people’s furniture out, doing their laundry, etc. Eventually, it got too hot to wear the suit, so I just went into the apartments in my street clothes. Some of these apartments were so infested that you would see the bedbugs crawling on the wall during the day, which is weird because they’re normally nocturnal. I would work and then go home and wonder if I was infesting my apartment. I think that had a lot to do with the song. Laying in bed, not able to sleep, imaging a crawling sensation coming up my legs.
Have you or a loved one ever personally experienced bedbugs?
Lip: Thankfully, I haven’t had them. I got all sorts of gross stories though. I had one client who lived in Flushing. She had her brother and mother living with her. The brother seemed to have some mental illness of some sort. I would be talking to him to try to get him to bag up his laundry and stuff, and there was a language barrier that we had to get through on top of whatever mentally illness he might have had. He would just smash the bugs with his hand and smear blood on the wall while I was talking to him. It was pretty weird.
What’s the most disgusting bug you’ve ever seen?
Lip: I’ve pulled a tick off a dog that had swollen up to the size of a grape. That was pretty gross.
Bug: In Shanghai I regularly ate in back alley restaurants that had cockroaches and mice crawling around the floor and walls while you ate. It was pretty FUBAR.
Tell me about the 7″.
Lip: I’m kinda happy that it is different from a lot of the recordings that people are doing right now. It’s definitely not lo-fi, but it’s not really cleaned up at all. It’s just the sound of a band playing in a room… People should buy it so they can hear the other song, which is as good as “Bedbugs” and has a vocoder on it.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in New York?
Lip: We played at show at Don Pedro’s in Brooklyn where we didn’t go until late, and the crowd was pretty drunk. Basically, it turned into an excuse to attack your friends, so people were fighting each other, knocking us over, punching us, and throwing things around. I had to block a snare drum that was headed for my chest. Somebody knocked my amp over and broke my reverb pedal. It was weird ’cause people don’t usually react that way to our music.
Bug: Yeah, that show was insane. I think by the end all the microphones were broken and I just had to give up. I remember someone picking me up on their shoulders and spinning me around on their head. It felt like a real victory.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
Lip: Queens is the borough of food, so take the G train to the 7 train. Get off anywhere. Especially Jackson Heights or Flushing.
Bug: I only eat in Manhattan.