I have the great to present one of those interviews you remember long after you conduct it. DUCK. LITTLE BROTHER, DUCK! is a strange-named emo / indie / post-punk / math rock band from Portland, Oregon. They are about to release their brand new 7” via Friends For Life Records and were so kind to discuss their experiences, future plans and bunch of other stuff with me. Please take your time, read their story and don’t forget to grab their previous releases in awaiting for the new 7”!
Ok, guys, let’s start off with the sad news from earlier this week – the Boston bombing. You’ve released a brief statement on that. Please share your thoughts on the terrible happenings. It’s like 3100 miles from Portland. Why do you care?
We understand that terrorism is a persistent global phenomenon that rarely touches domestic soil here in the States, and therefore rarely hits home (quite literally). When it does though I think a lot of us find it difficult not to illicit an emotional response; anger, sadness, confusion, and most importantly the desire to support our national community, however disconnected or apathetic we may feel from the larger nation on a daily basis. It’s easy to disregard and write off this kind of violence as “normal” when they happen so far away and seemingly regularly, but an acute event so close to home can’t help but inspire more awareness and concern for the whole concept of terrorism and the unfortunate victims of the attacks.
Phil, you took it out of my mouth. I was just about to ask you about other countries and the fact that a hell of a lot more people die elsewhere in the world while just covering the bombings in tonight’s “breaking news”. The saddest part is that people seem to not care, because it has become so common.
So bummed about the circumstances surrounding Chi’s passing, although, I’m glad that after years of being in a coma he was released from any pain or anguish he may have been going through. For me personally DEFTONES was absolutely monumental. Definitely the definitive band of my adolescence. Some of the first songs I played to when I got my first drum kit were those off of White Pony and Around the Fur. Abe Cunningham continues to inspire my playing to this day, and every release they put out is an opportunity for me to get super nostalgic, pretty much to the point of total headbanging catharsis. They have continued to exist in what is truly their own genre, rising above their “nu-metal” contemporaries with all of the personal nuances that make each and every one of them fantastic and interesting musicians. I finally got to see them play last year and I barely noticed the bruise on my sternum from the guard rail because I was so entranced.
First off, somehow DEFTONES got lumped in with the whole Nu Metal thing, managed to create something unique and amazing, and still remain relevant today; I think that’s pretty incredible. Everyone that vehemently abhors Nu Metal is never ashamed to admit they like DEFTONES. To me that is a mind blowing feat, and alone is commendable.
DEFTONES for me, were in some sense one of those gateway bands. I remember at some point in High School rediscovering all this music I had a mild attachment to when I was younger (I’ve been a music nerd since a real young age, thanks to the influence of a few friends older siblings. If those people weren’t around, I think I’d have a much different musical background today), but had kind of put behind me as I had become more and more interested in the “punk” thing. It was mostly bands with a more “mainstream” appeal, that were just absolutely “not punk enough,” that I began to rediscover. Tastes change, and I started to find interest in some of that stuff again, but this time with a totally different appreciation for it. It was something that made me realize what the word “heavy” really meant when talking about a record, and helped spark my interest in wanting more out of music than four chords and a mosh pit.
Have you seen them live recently?
Yeah, I got to see them last year. They played two shows here, and I was lucky enough to make one of them. It was absolutely great.
I blew it on seeing them last year with Phil. Definitely regret it. They played an awesome venue here, that would have been great to see them at.
Alright, let’s move on to DUCK LITTLE BROTHER DUCK. You’re readying a new 7’’, is that right? Please shoot me an introduction for this new release.
Yeah, we are! We’re pretty pumped on it. It’s an older song of ours, that people might recognize from a few videos and from our last U.S. Tour, we played it almost nightly then; and then the other is our ultra most brand newest of songs. We really liked how the two songs fit together, and had been playing them back-to-back live recently, so we figured they were cohesive enough to be a “thing”. That “thing” is this 7″ that we’re calling No Spitting On Cats During Plague Time.
The 7″ is coming out on Friends For Life. It’s a record label, zine distro, and all around creative outlet for the homies, based out of our hometown Portland, Oregon. I also help run it with my friend Reid Stubblefield (ex-PARDEE SHORTS, THE SKY ABOVE AND EARTH BELOW), and the contributions of our amazing friends.
If everything goes according to plan with the release, it is also supposed to be the tour 7″ for our upcoming tour of Japan in August. The songs will also be featured on the Japanese CD release from Stiff Slack, of our record Don’t Take Our Filth Away that came out last Summer on Topshelf Records.
Whoohoo, amazing. Tell me more about this trek. First time in Asia?
Yeah, first time. This is easily the furthest any of us have ever even been out of the country and all of our first times off the continent. It’s going to be pretty insane just visiting, but going and getting to play music… Wow.
We were really fortune with how many odd circumstances all coalesced into this incredible opportunity.
Interesting, can you expound more upon that?
The odd circumstances?
Well, the tour in one way or another started back on New Years 2010/2011. We were supposed to play a house show with this band from Japan called ALYOSHA, that a friend of mine from America had been playing drums in while he was living there. We unfortunately didn’t get to play because our friend was stabbed in the face by some oogle as the party escalated. A year or so later, our friend who was playing drums with Alyosha, went back to Japan, and started another band with people from Alyosha, this was called BLUE FRIEND.
Last summer, our friend Ben who was in BLUE FRIEND moved back to America, but BLUE FRIEND continued to be a band. Around this same time another friend-of-a-friend thing happened, and this dude Shino came to America, and was living with our friend Reid. I had started working on trying to book a European tour for a few days, when it dawned on me to ask Shino about Japan. I did, and within a week I was in touch with Sho from BLUE FRIEND, and had gotten seemingly farther on booking the tour in that short of time, than any U.S. tour I had ever booked; so we just went with it, and are still going with it.
It really is all super lucky and fortunate. I’m sure we could have done something regardless of the situation, but how deep the whole thing runs is pretty silly.
Amazing :) Any plans for a European run?
Absolutely. We’re always planning and scheming. It’s been spoken of; we will probably talk more once we return from Japan. It’s definitely not out of the question, but there’s no concrete plans set in motion at this time.
Do it! J I promise you won’t regret it. Europe is beautiful, for real.
Okay, boys. Tell me where do you get the ideas for your crazy names and titles?
It’s different for everything. All the names of famous people stuff on Survival was really random. We were all really into Philip Seymour Hoffman for some reason when the band started. More specifically him in Twister. It wasn’t Twister that sparked the interest in him though, but quickly, because everything has to be a joke with us, it gravitated toward specifically his performance in Twister. “Philip Seymour Hoffman” the song was the first one we wrote together, and we just started calling it that as a temporary title. We started writing more and more songs, and all of those got famous people as their “working titles”. Eventually it came time to record, and we had been calling these songs by their famous person names for so long, that we just ended up keeping them.
The “additional” titles, as well as most of the titles of things since the whole name thing, are just the result of hanging out. Usually someone will say something either totally emotional, or totally hilarious, and instantly someone says “song title”. It’s almost a game at this point. Unfortunately most of the ones the world has seen, aren’t even the best ones. I KNOW we’ve come up with better stuff than that. We just can’t remember it…
The song names are usually just completely random things that are said at practice or while hanging out. Sometimes they are references to books or movies. Other times they are inside jokes about people or Christian rock music videos. Song titles usually don’t mean to much to unless we have something to say. But we can’t call every song “untitled” because it would be too confusing for us to remember what song is what. When songs are written they are usually titled by what they sound like. “Botch” was a working title at one point. The wacky song names come later.
You’re not posting too many updates on Facebook, so I thought you must dedicate a lot of your time to watching movies :) Any fantastic pictures you’d like to recommend?
Yeah, or internet presence is pretty lackluster. We generally try to just play and put out music. However we’ve started messing with that twitter thing a lot, instead of facebook… I’ve come to find that twitter is the garbage dump of social media, where people just say all the stupid ass stuff they wouldn’t post anywhere else.
Movies huh… It’s hard, I’ve always enjoyed them, but only in the past few months with the introduction of the projector at the house, have I really started to nerd out on them. Like really get nerdy with it. It’s more of Jon and Phil’s thing expect all Phil had to say is…
Suburban Commando with Hulk Hogan.
Nothing recent really. Pretty much every Jon Carpenter movie ever until “Ghosts of Mars“, and not including “the Fog” is great, he completely blew it on those. “Assault on Precinct 13“, ” The Thing“, “Christine“, “They Live” “Escape From New York” are all incredible.
The franchise of the “horror” movie is more or less a waste of time right now but if you look back and explore the genre deeper there are a lot of really interesting and imaginative horror movies and his are some of the best. Horror movies are so overly complicated now that trying to decipher the shitty plot is the most nerve racking thing about them. Not all recent horror movies, but with a lot of them CG is used to try and cover up the fact that no one put energy into attempting to write difficult characters or interesting plot dynamics between them so they make some wacky ass plot in hopes of wowing the audience when a simple “group of people are trapped in a cave with translucent bat people for no reason” would do, then the characters get to be wicked and ultimately become scarier than the the monster or whatever that is chasing them. I am a huge asshole about this. It’s something I am working on.
I saw “Re-Animator” recently, it is very good. I re-watched “American Werewolf in London” for the first time since my dad watched it with me when I was a kid, that movie scared the hell out of me back then, I appreciate it even more now. “Hour of the Wolf” is really creepy. But I also I like “Children of Men“, it is one of my favorite movies. “Brazil” is great also. And “A Christmas Story“. We got to see the house where they filmed that movie when we were in Ohio a couple summers ago. I fucking love that movie.
I’m currently in the middle of Stephen King’s “The Shining” again. I immediately dived into this reading when I found out that he’s about to publish the sequel (!). God damn it, and they will adapt it for the screen, too, though it must be extremely hard to create something nearly as good as the Kubrick’s picture. Anyway, I’m literally shocked how both artists managed to create a frightening horror by making the main man of the story a real character. It’s a perfect example of how to create something more difficult and complex, based on… reality. A humdinger. Simply brilliant.
So how can a movie influence you to write music and certain stories?
For me personally there are so many times when a song can feel cinematic. The song will make whatever I am doing seem so much bigger than it really is, sort of like a soundtrack to a movie. The Shinning would not be what it is, if Krzysztof Penderecki did not do the soundtrack. It is so much more memorable, and it’s fun, and it gets me stoked. I’m sure I am not alone on this. An example for me, is when we were on tour. We were driving from Illinois all the way back to Portland which is like a 33 hour drive, and I took the first night of it. We were crossing Iowa in the very early morning, and I put Grouper on, and I don’t think anything could have been better than listening to that. It just worked with what i was seeing and feeling. In terms of writing songs I feel like if I can make someone feel that way, then I did a good one. It’s all sentimental. Music accompanies everything. A lot of music to me is imagery. So our lyrics are trying to make an image or a story and in a way it is a lot like a movie. It’s an interesting thing/question I have never really given much thought before.
Isn’t it tempting to visualize your music with a movie-inspired music video? Have you tough about releasing one?
Sort of. It is tempting and I think we are going to attempt to make a music video. So far the songs are so crazy and spastic that it is difficult to even comprehend what the video or what the story would be. We have thought about it before. Most of them were jokes about using puppets or wearing masks of Kyle Souder’s face. But I think with some of the new stuff we are writing it might be easier to create a video that goes somewhere. We will see.
By the way, what are some of your favorite music videos that are just like little stories or mini-movies?
None of us were really sure how to answer this one I think. It’s been awhile since we’ve really watched any music videos.
Ok, getting back to the subject of social media. They say it’s “the new punk rock” :) Would you agree with that? How useful do you think it is for up-and-coming artists?
I don’t know if I would say it’s “the new punk rock”. That seems a little outlandish. If the comparison is that they are both “game changers” and people use/used them in pretty radical ways, then I guess that works. I feel it’s hard to pass judgement on social media now though, especially while we’re experiencing it the way we are experiencing it. We’re bombarded with social media everyday, it’s constantly changing, and it’s an incredibly new phenomenon. I don’t think you can say for sure that social media “is the new punk rock” until it’s over in some capacity; then we can look back at what it really was, and not what we experience it to be. Everyday I can’t tell whether it disgusts me, or fascinates me; that’s really all I can say about it at this point.
In terms of being in a band however, it seems incredibly useful. I don’t even know if useful is the necessary word though; it’s more of a “everybody’s doing it” kinda thing. You have to participate in it on some level, if you’re in a band. Unless you never intend to leave the room you practice in, in almost every capacity local to global, bands seriously benefit from social media. This is another thing I’m not sure how to feel about, at this point. I’m sure at some point in the future, I’ll be able to look back and form a definitive judgement on the whole thing. Currently though, when I actually stop to think about it all, it sorta weirds me out…
You are very active on Tumblr, which both enables you to stay really connected to your fans, but also means you have to deal with the grosser parts of the internet on a very regular basis. Is this ever challenging?
Yeah, it’s super challenging. I try to use it the way I see best fit. I think what bugs me the most about social media, is the gimmicky ways that people use it, and the gimmicks they perpetuate as a result. Sometimes I catch myself boardering on that, and it kind of bums me out. The rest of the time it’s falling in line with the “everybody’s doing it” thing; if you’re trying to be relevant in some capacity, then someone’s gotta do it.
I do like having such direct means of communication with people who do really care though. When you can sift through that black hole of filth, and actually discover you’ve done something for someone, and they really appreciate it. That’s a damn cool thing.
Alright, before we say goodbye, please tell me about your recent shows with SLINGSHOT DAKOTA. You did only 2 shows with them, right?
We did three actually. One at home, and then 2 other ones with them. It was an absolute blast. Those two are some of the sweetest people we’ve ever met. They’re so easy to talk to, so for a bunch of social weirdos like 3/4 of us, that was really awesome. The biggest bummer was how short it was. By the end of the 3rd day we were all ready to be ultimate pals and travel the country together, but we had to go back to real life, and they had to keep touring.
They did a European tour with MASERATI several years ago when they were still a three piece, and so we got to bond with them over our love for that band. MASERATI, and more specifically drummer Jerry Fuchs is a huge inspiration for us as a band. Jerry passed away in 2009. Getting to hear them tell stories about how awesome of a guy he was incredibly heart warming for us.
The shows were all pretty rad. Portland was Portland for us. I don’t ever know how to judge playing here anymore. They killed it though. People were really excited about them being here. Seattle was great as well, seeing them play through a big PA at least once was pretty awesome; they sounded pretty incredible. This band we played with in Seattle was pretty rad also. They’re called NORTH FOLK, they’re from Olympia. They have this real mid-west emo vibe (which isn’t really surprising given the band history of one of their members), and they do it really really well. Spokane was absolutely awesome, everyone was incredibly nice, and incredibly stoked, and that made us pretty stoked.
Awesome! Do you have any shows left for this or the next month?
We’re playing a show at this house called Porch Couch with SOFT SKILLS, and some other bands. SOFT SKILLS is Phil and the other Kyle’s other band. They’re super awesome. They just finished most the recording for a release they’re trying to get out. It’s really awesome. Unfortunately there’s not a lot around to check out though, so just keep your eyes peeled. That show is on May 28th.
I’m not sure if we’re playing at all in June now; probably not July as well. I am going to be traveling to Alaska to work at a cannery for a few weeks before I come back, and we head over to Japan for our tour this summer with BLUE FRIEND.
A cannery? Wow, awesome. By the way Alaska, I’d die to visit the place. I’ve been to Norway several times and I like to think that the geography of both destinations is in some aspects quite similar. So it simply must be a place to be!
Norway several times? Sounds like you’re the lucky guy. I’ve always wanted to go there. Hopefully this isn’t the closest I ever get.
I had heard about the canning work through people I’ve worked in restaurants with before. I’d always wanted to go and do it, but somehow stuff just never really “panned out”, or the situation wasn’t “convenient”. Basically me just making excuses to not go and do it. I had told my partner about it earlier in the year, and she decided she was going to try to go and do it. At first I didn’t believe her, but as it came closer and closer, she kept taking the proper steps to go and do it. I decided “what the hell”, and applied also.
They offered me a Job, but I didn’t take it at first. We originally were supposed to play a few awesome shows in July, and I didn’t want to have to break those commitments. However, the job I currently have began to wear on me so bad in the last month or so, that I needed a way out. This job seemed like a way to make a bunch of money, even if the labor is awful, really fast, and then hopefully better my personal situation as a result. We’ll see how it goes, but at this point, I can’t really complain. haha.
It will be great times, I’m sure. As for Norway, it’s bloody expensive, but you are a king there if you work there. No matter what you do actually. I’ve been working in 3 different hotels doing various stuff ranging from kitchen struggle to very pleasant administrative job and it made me rich for a couple of months ;) Not to mention freakin’ beautiful places I’ve been to. Check out my old blog at www.norge.fotolog.pl :)
It’s been a good time. Please add anything you want, guys. Thanks!
This interview was awesome. We seriously were blown away by you. More people need to do it like this. So really, thank you!
Wow, come on, I’m embarrassed ;) Thank YOU for the cool chat. It’s been a pleasure.
Absolutely, anytime. Thanks again Karol.
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