Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing new and emerging MP3s from local talent.
Brooklyn’s I’m In You give a sprawling, cinematic makeover to the classic art-punk of bands like Pere Ubu, the Pop Group, or Nomeansno. With swarms of steaming strings, a choir of teenage girls, and a gaggle of mysterious drones, the band plays odd-angled, war-addled, occasionally disco-fueled alterna-weirdness with the majesty of tearjerker indie rock. Their second album, also called I’m In You (self-released and out this month), is at once demented and triumphant, like scrappy old U2 trying to approximate the power and grace of new U2. From the stuttering Mike Watt-ian throb of bassist Dmitry Ishenko to the sexually frustrated whine of vocalist Sebastian Ischer to the New Romantics swirl of guitarist Chris McHenry, “Beast” is a nervous post-punk classic in the making.
Q&A: I’m In You’s Sebastian Ischer:
What is “Beast” about?
In terms of the lyrics, it’s a fable/dream sequence about love as abasement, in which the unattainable beauty of his beloved turns the narrator into a kind of deformed creature. To me it sounds a little like an old blues song about the pain of romantic longing and the uncontrollable nature of desire, and a little like a tango, because of the rigid, formal time signature and the dramatic violin lines. There’s also a freaked-out, raw scream in my vocal at the end of the song that I’m kind of proud of.
Can you tell me about the line “a beast needs a beast”?
The line is a quote from an old Japanese film that I haven’t seen, but which I think I read about in the book Zeroville, by Steve Erickson. The other quote in the song, “Even the dwarves started small in this town” is from a Werner Herzog movie. I sometimes quote movies, books or other songs in our songs because it makes me feel like they are part of a personal mythology or the cultural DNA of way of looking at the world that I would like to pass on.
What were the easy parts and hardest parts about working with a string section?
The best part about writing for strings is that we have a team of such amazing string players, especially Erica Dicker, who can play absolutely anything Dmitry writes and make it sound beautifully emotive and textured. The hardest part is not to saturate entire songs with strings.
There’s great sax freakouts on your record. What song has your favorite?
I really love Robert McCullough’s solo on James Brown’s “Superbad,” and also many of James Chance’s solos with the Contortions. Our bari sax player Alex Weiss does a really crazy solo on the song “Heart Exploder” on our new record,and when he and the other guys in the horn section, Glenn White and Mike Irwin, all simultaneously freak out, that’s one of my favorite moments in our live show.
How serious is “unemployment” in your list of influences?
I was unemployed for a month after our US and Europe tour last fall, which was tough because I was in a lot of debt. Dmitry and Rob Mitzner, our drummer, are both full-time musicians outside of the band, so they are constantly hustling for gigs, and Chris and I both work freelance on movies, so we never really know how long any one of us are going to be with income. It’s a conundrum, because when you’re unemployed you have more time and energy to work on music and other non-capitalist enterprises, but then you need money to be in a band and pay for rehearsal space and recordings.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve ever played in New York?
We opened for Julian Plenti at a sold-out show at the Bowery Ballroom last November, which was pretty amazing. Courtney Love was backstage afterwards, and I had to repeat our band name to her several times, which caused me a moment of acute embarrassment and cognitive dissonance.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
I like La Superior in Williamsburg and Roberta’s in Bushwick. We like drinking at the Pencil Factory, which is across the street from our rehearsal space. Our space gets very hot during the heat wave, so the air conditioning and cold beer in the Pencil Factory are a real blessing.