Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
Erik Wunder, of gloomy black-metal expressionists Cobalt, has relocated from Denver to Brooklyn with little more than a song in his heart and a chip on his shoulder. Smiling Dogs, the debut album from his solo project, Man’s Gin (out now via Profound Lore), is a collection of songs that have made the journey with him. It’s not metal by any means, but the record certainly captures the genre’s noir, misanthropic, midnight moods with a blood-dappled Southern Gothic twinge–think 16 Horsepower, Nick Cave, Mark Lanegan or the similarly metal-gone-twang of Neurosis’s Scott Kelly. Full of doom-soaked pianos, cellos, and upright bass, this extra-gloomy unplugged session is perfect for anyone who thinks the Alice In Chains reunion lacks the appeal of glassy stares and smacked-out hopelessness. The album’s best track, “Nuclear Ambition Pt. 2,” is also its most triumphant, capturing rain-soaked streets, smoke on your breath, streetlight streaking in the haze–pretty much the best acoustic dirge ever to include the line “it’s time to fist fuck everything”
What is “Nuclear Ambition Pt. 2” about?
I remember it being a very powerful night and all my friends were there and we were playing guitars and howling at the moon. I had a very pretty melody idea, but in terms of songwriting I had very little interest in making anything pop-oriented. So the main idea of the song is this big sing-along of an apocalyptic scenario that doesn’t really mean anything. I like songs that paint pictures rather than explaining an idea directly. I think it is very important for the listener to participate in the song and take whatever they want from it. Word imagery is one of my favorite things. Listening back on classic rock records that I grew up on and thinking back about what they said in this phrase or that, I find a lot of beauty in the personal experience. Did he say “wide man’s burden” or “wise man’s sermon”?
What inspired it musically?
As long as you can make the song flow and feel good and put some meaning behind it, you’re on the right path. It is hard to explain these things. Whatever makes your world explode is what will usually affect other people. Believe in yourself and those around you.
What do you remember about the month you recorded this record?
I remember January was very cold, and I also felt cold in that time. I didn’t have–and still don’t have–much money to spend; so I took some time off of work at my bar in Manhattan, and we sat down in Queens to record this mammoth bastard. I remember feeling like a loner and holding the face of determination. I love my bandmates, and I know they are always beside me. But either way the deed had to be done… Basically for me it was bringing these songs that I had carried with me for a long time from Colorado with the faith that they were very good, and finally committing them to tape. It was a tedious process of finding new friends who could ride the wave, and then letting them share a surfboard and enjoy it with me. With style of course.
How important is alcohol to your recording process?
Well, I like to go out and have a good time. Or stay in and have a good time, whatever the doctor orders. For me it has been embracing both sides of it. Sometimes it is good to sit around one afternoon and think about what you just wrote, and on the other side it is good to sometimes fly off the cuff and let things happen to you. There is never a clear explanation for creating good ideas.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve ever played in New York?
I liked playing here with Jarboe both times we did shows. She is my good friend, and I think a lot of the “art” in music is not paid attention to any more. I think the golden days are dead. So in retrospect, the ones who noticed have to carry on the flame. It is a terrible and tedious task, but very fulfilling.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brooklyn?
Being from Colorado, I have a keen taste for Mexican food, so there is this place in Williamsburg that makes a very good burrito called L.A. Burrito. They have a decent chicken mole, and their house salsas are incendiary. There are also a handful of places in my neighborhood who serve very good sandwiches. But all in all, it is best to come to my house on Ditmars Street and have me cook a spicy fillet mignon, which I carefully buy and season.
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!