Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing new and emerging MP3s from local talent.
Brooklyn jazz-punks Father Figures bring old-school Knitting Factory aggro-improv kicking and squeaking into the Brooklyn loft scene. While their Zebulon brethren are generally a more informed by free-jazz explosions, Father Figures seem to have a little more nuance–shades of Coltrane, electric Miles, Freak Out!-era Zappa, James Chance, Lounge Lizards and Silver Daggers swirl in a clattery haze. Four out of five of them are graduates of the NYU jazz program–drummer Ian Chang’s degree is currently pending–and the crew would get together after class for wild, adventurous, occasionally funky improv. Their debut album, Father Figures (just released on vinyl via Museum People), is 73 manic minutes culled from hours and hours of four-track jams. Says tenor saxophonist Adam Schatz: “The energy behind this record was using improvisations compositionally, taking songs that transpired on the spot and combining and arranging them into a greater whole.” The nine-minute “Patty’s Cats” cobbles together a few different sessions into an engaging drama, in which they loop sections like a hip-hop band, clatter about manically, and insert one room-sucking ambient drone at the center. Or as Schatz says, “We definitely feel more at home at Death By Audio then at the Blue Note.”
What is “Patty’s Cats” about?
The piece was from one of the earlier improvisations we had done, and it starts right off the bat with a loop of the band, toying with the music in a cool way that I think is like shooting off the starting gun–but the holding the horse by the reins for five more seconds.
How did it get its name?
The names of the songs came last in the process. It was 3 a.m. and we were doing final mixes and began coming up with names for the different tracks. “Patty’s Cats” stuck for this one. Ian is our drummer, Patty is his girlfriend. She was there, and has cats I believe. That’s all I remember.
Do you guys see yourselves in the tradition of NY jazz-punk bands like Lounge
Lizards–or something entirely different?
Something different for sure. None of us were around for the Lounge Lizards, though we’re big Sex Mob fans. The music Father Figures makes is more a direct result of five friends creating sounds that’s not explicitly jazz as people know it to be now, but taking the jazz ideas and improvisational energies that we know and love and making it accessible for any audience to get off with improvised music and even just instrumental music. What we really do best is obscure the line between the improvised and composed. We’ve worked a lot on improvising as a band, compositionally, as an extension of our songs or connections between songs, and it makes performing really exciting because the audience doesn’t have the tip of, “Oh now this guy is going to solo.” It’s a much more fluid, connected experience throughout the show. And it allows us to get beautiful and soft and fucking crazy and loud. We also have some hand gesture cues for stuff like that.
Tell me about the massive drone at the dead center of this piece–what is it?
The drone is an overdub. We didn’t do too many actual overdubs on the album–most of the effects we got were from chopping up and cutting and pasting existing material from what we had played in the initial sessions. But for this song there was this big swell that I did live with some saxophone effects into a slow groove which you hear at the end, and we wanted to create something to set that up properly. It was also probably a result of us playing something we weren’t crazy about in the middle of the piece, so we cut it out and replaced it with that. It’s a combination of our voices and a few Casio sounds.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
A polling of the band has provided these answers: Bar Toto, Mexico 2000, Maya Taqueria and Tom’s Restaurant.
Father Figures are on tour for a month. See them when they get back.
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