In the two years since their woefully under-appreciated debut %, Brooklyn demento-wavers Dinowalrus have been almost completely overhauled, with two-thirds of the trio replaced and their experimental globs diluted from drum-and-drone loogie to synth-wave drizzle. One remaining consistent is the band’s longstanding visual affection for psychedelic New York City. There was the Matthew-Caron-directed video for skronk-wave single “Bead,” a track from their 2010 Kanine Records release, which was a purple-hazed tribute to old-school New York iconography, a skittish montage of rooftop scenes, graffiti throw-ups, and subway rails, all paced like a crystal-meth fit. Today marks the release of Dinowalrus’s sophomore record, Best Behavior, with cover art that’s a lavender-tinted Domino Sugar Factory homage to Pink Floyd’s Animals. (They’re playing the Mercury Lounge tonight in celebration.) Also, the surreal-fable video for Best Behavior‘s first single, “Phone Home From the Edge,” features Dinowalrus founding member Peter Feigenbaum falling asleep and waking up as another iconic New York figure, cult-legend moviemaker Lloyd Kaufman. “They’re pretty good,” Kaufman recently told us about Dinowalrus. “I hope they stay together.”
So do they. That’s what Feigenbaum told us recently, over a dying cell phone from his friend’s house, when we called to talk with him about working with the man responsible for The Toxic Avenger.
Lloyd Kaufman is in your video. How did that come together?
Pete Feigenbaum: We got in touch with him because his daughter [Lisbeth] was dating one of my friends from school. When the track first came out, [my friend] passed it on to his girlfriend; [Lisbeth] and her sister Charlotte [Kaufman] wanted to make a movie anyway, sort of exploiting their house where they grew up.
The interior is the Kaufman house?
Yeah, it’s Lloyd Kaufman’s house. I won’t say where it is exactly, but it’s on the Upper East Side.
When did you first learn about Lloyd Kaufman’s work?
I wasn’t really familiar with Lloyd until a few years ago, when we became friends with Lisbeth and people were like, “Oh that’s Lloyd Kaufman’s daughter.” But like one time, she and Alex, my good friend she was dating–they were in my house and she left something behind. My roommate–former roommate, jeez–who’s also a video guy, sent it back, and then Lloyd sent some Troma films to my roommate as a thanks for returning her stuff.
It’s funny that I never really came across Lloyd’s stuff when I was younger. I definitely am a fan of B-movies and that whole style. I’m a huge fan of Repo Man, and Russ Meyer, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, and Wild Angels.
When was the video shot?
A long time ago. Maybe June of 2011? Maybe even May?
Charlotte had just graduated. But we started talking about it almost a year ago. Man, the song is so old! We finished writing it in January of 2009, we recorded it in the summer of 2010, and it didn’t really hit the blogs until maybe October of 2010. Charlotte and her sister saw it in November or December of 2010, and then we started talking in early 2011. She was really busy with school, but also moving overseas. But between the time she graduated and moved, we just jumped on it and figured we would save it until a few months before the album actually came out.
Tell me about the song.
“Phone Home from the Edge” is a weird song, because it was, in a way, the reason to keep doing this band. I wrote that song with the old guys, Kyle [Warren] and Josh [Da Costa], three years ago. It just seemed like a new direction, combining some of the ideas we were leaning to, but more condensed, danceable, unique. So it was weird. It was like, “Oh, we have this great song, but my bandmates are going to quit, but we haven’t recorded it. This song could be the start of a new era.” But it was this great song and a template for a new way of writing. So I had to find some new people, and take what we’d been working on, and condense it a bit.
I talked with Lloyd about the video and he said he liked your music. But he also asked me if I thought you’d be together for a long time.
[laughs] I ask myself the same thing everyday. Sometimes it just feels like bands aren’t built to last anymore. Nobody gives them the opportunity to have an extended career, but then there a lot of bands who never go away. Like I’m a big fan of–and pretty good friends with–Aa and they actually haven’t broken up. I was in a studio with them yesterday. It’s like the whole new band-hiatus thing: does that mean broken up, or gone for six months or a year? I don’t know. I hope we’re around for a while. We’re in this weird state right now of spending a ton of time on it but making no money, which is a little stressful.
Would you like to wake up one day and be Lloyd Kaufman?
Wouldn’t be a bad scenario. Lloyd seems to be doing pretty well for himself.