Yes In My Backyard is a semiweekly column showcasing MP3s from new and emerging local talent.
The demented power trio Seabrook Power Plant crosses many boundaries — math-metal, art-prog, jazz, bluegrass — but one thing remains deliriously constant: This dude can shred. The demented, frazzled brainchild of Brooklyn’s Brandon Seabrook, the band culls beauty from wheedles in the time-honored tradition of fellow New Yorkers Marnie Stern and Mick Barr. But Seabrook adds his own unique ear for jagged Tzadik out-jazz and merciless fingertip histrionics on his tenor banjo, a style he describes as “rapid-fire staccato delivery and a throng of tremolo terror.” Their upcoming album, Seabrook Power Plant II (due April 26 on NYC’s Loyal Label), is a bonkers avant-shredfest from top to bottom — opener “Lambourghini Helicopter” is a manic clusterfuck of merciless banjo torture only briefly broken up by dissonant Dirty Projector coos. “Shredders were and will always be my main inspiration,” says Seabrook. “It started with Edward Van Halen. Paul Gilbert’s single-string arpeggios rule, I practice those all the time — these expose your tendons to minor injury. Mick Barr is ridiculous. It’s a fun challenge to shred on banjo. It’s not exactly set up for shred flow. My banjo is from 1926.”
What is “Lamborghini Helicopter” about?
This song is a result of playing chess while consuming excessive amounts of music at an extreme velocity . . . it’s about overload. Everything melts. This was the first song I wrote for the new album, a result of obsessing over ’80s guitar shredding and the thrash style of drumming, focusing on longer structures, static harmony, machine-gun drumming, and bouzouki runs.
Do you remember the recording session?
We recorded this song live in the studio with some minimal overdubs. I wrote the vocal parts, and we recorded those separately and added them later. The chords are three-, four-, five-, and seven-part clusters, each note recorded separately on top of each other. This is tedious and fun. I really wanted to add voice to this record, a more dissonant, operatic version of Yes. I can’t write lyrics, but I can write clusters. I can’t get enough of those.
What were your practice sessions like back in the day?
Seems like playing along with records was a bigger part of practice sessions back then. I had a 12-inch single of Run D.M.C and Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way.” Side B was an instrumental. I wore that thing out trying to learn how to jam for hours. There wasn’t as much time spent on writing music. I would record the jam and listen back to it.
When did you establish your love for the banjo?
My love for the banjo came from my love of the drums. The tenor banjo has virtually no sustain, just a drumhead with strings. It’s a little different than the five-string banjo. You don’t have a drone string, and I don’t use finger picks. The drumhead on my banjo is cranked really tight — tremolo-ing is the main technique.
What’s the most memorable show you’ve played in New York City?
Our most memorable shows in NYC are when our equipment survives for our entire 28- to 36-minute set. When nothing breaks, it’s the best.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Brookyln?
This is a tough one, but I gotta go with the Bagel Hole in Park Slope. Their “everything bagel” is perfect, a work of art. Ambrosial crust and soft, doughy interior. They know what I like, and it’s often bagged up and ready to go by the time I make it to the front of the line. I love you, Bagel Hole.
The Seabrook Power Plant’s CD-release show is April 19 at Littlefield.