Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Sightings are Brooklyn’s greatest living noise band–period. The avant-bruisers have been making jagged, nauseous, pig-fucked chip-‘n’-sizzle for over a solid decade and have only gotten better with age. Their upcoming seventh album, City Of Straw (due April 13 on Brah Records) is easily their most expansive, pumping hollowed-out punk rock dirges as if they were transmissions from scrambled porn channels, all fuzz, static, and pulse-defying hiccups. Produced by Oneida’s Kid Millions and Shahin Motia (full disclosure: two of my brahs), Sightings are starting to sound like a full-on rock band. “The guitar sounds those guys got were the best we’ve had in a studio,” says drummer Jon Lockie. But if Sightings are indeed rockers, just think of them as expressionists, using a prismatic array of bowel-battering fuzz and stuttering gurgles instead of “riffs.” Opener “Tar And Pine” starts as a precise piece of Mille Plateaux-ready glitch-dub before diving headfirst into oily pits of industrial wreckage, Flipper doom, and suffocating mounds of dirt. Below, an interview, tourdates, and the “Tar and Pine” download:
What is “Tar And Pine” about?
Mark Morgan, vocals/guitars: I just re-read the lyrics because I couldn’t remember them and I’m pretty sure it’s “about” laziness. Specifically, my own. But let’s not get too hung up on hanging any “meaning” for the song through some lyrics I jotted down two hours before I did the vocal overdubs.
Richard Hoffman, bass: We’re the Steely Dan of our time–a band notorious for making up lyrics at the last minute in the studio. We are definitely a music-first band.
Do you think of visuals when you write? Or do you “name” certain sounds?
Hoffman: We are not a visual band, sorry to say. We are a music-geek band. Our initial song titles tend to be things like “Zeppelin Song” or “Farben,” after Jan Jelinik’s techno act.
What’s been the most interesting reaction you’ve seen or heard someone have to a Sightings gig?
Morgan: Getting a few hundred people flipping us the bird and giving the literal “thumbs down” at a PS1 gig a few years back. To be honest, I was kind of annoyed because even through my perpetual cloud of self-criticism, I thought we were pretty rocking. To see all these bozos get that pissed off just boggled my fucking mind. I guess I’m sheltered sometimes. Or just an idiot.
Hoffman: I was going to cite the same show but Mark’s going glass half-empty. It was one of the most powerful feelings I have ever gotten from a show. A huge crowd having a thumbs up/thumbs down standoff over us, while we just did our thing–to the tune of a 20 minute noise anthem. Most of the folks were there for PS1’s usual Saturday dance party. You couldn’t have scripted a more polarizing situation.
Jon Lockie, drums: We played with Saccharine Trust in L.A. a few years back. Jack Brewer had a great response to our show–something like, “Most bands are like McDonald’s. I don’t want to eat McDonald’s. I want to eat Sightings.”
Most of your circa-2001 Brooklyn contemporaries have gotten either “brighter” or more “pop”–but you guys still keep it gnarly. Why have you stuck so closely to noise?
Hoffman: I think the guys in the bands that are our contemporaries in NYC–bands like Black Dice and Animal Collective–would tell you they have remained true to themselves and that what they do now is just an extension or refinement of what they started out doing. For us, the majority of our songs have always been “pop song”‘ in the “A-B-A-B-C-A-B” sense. But the instrument sounds and riffs are not familiar sounding, so it doesn’t always transmit as pop. Some pieces are strictly sound pieces, but most are pretty straight up songs.
Lockie: Honestly, we haven’t stuck to “noise,” since we never intended to be there in the first place, but we try a lot of ideas in practice and songs that don’t have a certain amount of tension don’t get through the editing. I feel like we’re sort of riding the line between a coherent song form and something that’s falling apart. To most people’s ears, I imagine we fall firmly on the side of something that’s falling apart. But there is a logic to these songs.
Morgan: Sounds like music to us.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
Morgan: I don’t go out to dinner very much but I’m a fan of Egg for breakfast.
Hoffman: Just did some work in Greenpoint and revisited the greatness of Alcapulco for lunch. Mole enchiladas!
Lockie: I’m not much of a food lover, and don’t eat out very much, but I’ll go down to Mugs on Bedford Ave. and get some wings and a good pint now and then. Radegast Hall has good beers and food.
Sightings on tour:
4/16 Providence, RI ASS200
4/17 Boston, MA PA’s Lounge
4/19 Montreal, QB Casa Del Popolo
4/20 Toronto The Boat
4/21 Columbus, OH Skylab
4/21 Oberlin, OH ??
4/23 Chicago, IL The Mopery
4/26 Seattle, WA SS Marie Antoinette
4/28 Portland, OR Artistry
4/29 Oakland, CA The Oasis
4/30 San Francisco, CA Hemlock Tavern
5/1 Sacremento, CA The Hub
5/2 LA, CA Syncspace
5/4 Denver, CO Rhinoceropolis
5/5 Kansas City, MO The Foundation
5/6 Louisville, KY Skull Alley
5/7 Cleveland, OH Embassy
Plus!: Sightings plays Shea Stadium with Mouthus and GDFX on Tuesday, February 25 [show is apparently canceled]
Are you an emerging local band who has an upcoming 7″, MP3, or album? Are you not totally fucking terrible like 90% of the bands in this city? Then please send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Links and YSIs only. No attachments please!