Glitterbang Are Safe as Kittens, Relax, Would You?
Glitterbang's neon-green electropop scatters roses on the dance floor. Songs off their album Occasionally, Love Is War are emotive, sexed, disco-teched, and dreaming. Joey Veneziani and Nicki Boedigheimer have become Seattle's preeminent '80s/druid-cloaked preachers of dance. Their sound seems to have sprung from Anthony Michael Hall lines in Sixteen Candles, like "Relax, would you? We have 70 dollars and a pair of girl's underpants. We're safe as kittens." Hall and Glitterbang effectively portray a similar character of the unabashed underdog who'll soon prevail. Let us also revel in Long Duk Dong's response of "Oto-mo-biiile?" as Samantha's father, Howard, asks him, "Dong. Where is my automobile?" For this interview, I met with Glitterbang in a viewing room at the Adult Superstore underneath Déjà Vu Showgirls across from Pike Place Market. I put in a Popeye the Sailor cartoon DVD, and we mostly whispered. It was dark and dewy and smelled like eucalyptus. (Veneziani has a friend who's a janitor there, and he hooked us up.) A well-groomed man in a suit browsed the dildo section uptightly.
What is Glitterbang's go-to aphrodisiac? JV: A packed club with a good sound system.
What foods have you used during times of lovemaking? JV: A worm from a tequila bottle, and Twizzlers.
NB: So I was waiting in line for a slice of pizza and noticed two really hot girls in front of me. They ordered an entire pizza. One of the girls turned around and said, "We like to share!" Obviously, I went home with them. When we got to their place, the girls immediately got naked. I was stoked and started getting naked, too, and then the other girl said, "No, this is our thing. We call it dinner and a show." I was like, cool.
Why the title Occasionally, Love Is War? Tell me everything. Or at least one thing. NB: It just fell out of me. Most of the songs are about lovely ladies I've been involved with. That one is about all of them [laughs]. I equate it with war because people are fucking crazy when they're in love, and breaking up, and will sometimes do anything to keep things from changing. In my opinion, love is the most powerful of all drugs. When the supply is dry, it's a pretty gnarly comedown.
When love becomes war, how can people make it love again? NB: If love becomes war, it may never be love again. If there's any hope for it to return to love, you have to stay open to the idea and really, really care about that other person.
[Popeye has eaten a can of spinach. He's fighting Bluto. It has to sound so dirty from the outside.]
In "Excuse Us for Pirate Rocking," what do you mean by the bell of the submarine? NB: It's a clitoral reference.
In "Constable," who is Jimmy? Who is the Constable? Like a church guy? What's he policing? NB: Jimmy is this dude that was talking shit about me to a girl I had just started seeing. Jimmy and I had never spoken, and he was like, "Nicki is an asshole, Nicki is a coke-whore, Nicki is a terrible human being." All false [laughs]. I was super pissed, so I wrote "Constable."
How do the words happen lyrically for you? NB: Lyrics are coaxed out with tons of weed. I will humma mumma numma some melodies, then try to catch some words here and there. When I have something that sounds somewhat intelligent, I branch off of that.
"Tread Lightly" gives me such Anthony Michael Hall/Sixteen Candles/Donger sensations. Am I way off there? And the line "Gentlemen, start your boners." But I think that's from Bachelor Party. JV: You're way on here [laughs]. "Tread Lightly" and "Occasionally, Love Is War" were actually recorded and conceived as one long track. We broke them into two separate tracks for the record, but if you listen on the CD, they blend together seamlessly as one. While we were working on it, we would solo certain keyboard parts and talk about how they reminded us of the train ride scenes in Risky Business with that quintessential '80s soundtrack, courtesy of Tangerine Dream. So it's baked in there, man. Hooking up with Rebecca De Mornay on a train in the dead of the night. Gentlemen, start your boners, indeed.
On "Set Us Up," how are you getting that guitar sound? How'd you get that demonic sound that's in the background? NB: It was recorded with a Neumann TLM 103 mic through the Neve 8048 board at London Bridge Studios. I recorded two tracks of it and mixed them as a stereo pair with one take on each side. That demonic sound is actually a resample of a guitar line that I'd recorded. It was originally a melodic guitar line with lots of bends that sounded a bit like something you'd hear on a Mazzy Star record. Joey sampled it, sliced it up, crushed it with some overdrive and bit reduction, and recorded it back onto the track, playing the samples with a MIDI controller.
How do you make your beats and sounds? How do you capture a moment? How do Glitterbang harvest the magic when the magic hits? How do you know it's right? JV: We know it's right when we both agree on it. If a take or a sound isn't doing it for one of us, then we must seek on. Capturing the moment is all about being ready to hit record without interrupting your creative flow. The technology needs to be invisible—nothing kills the vibe more than waiting for a computer to restart or fiddling with cables and connections. If you go into a studio with a really good engineer, it's a primary function of him or her to make the logistical details of the recording processes seamless to the artist. When you're doing the majority of the recording yourself, such as we are, it's all about being prepared. Have a comfortable working setup where everything is plug and play. Also, it's really helpful to have the record enable functions of your DAW mapped to your controller to quickly enable recording. Tinkering with a mouse or keyboard during a creative storm is a total buzzkill.
There is no set process or assembly-line style structure for making tracks. They are all created with different concoctions of analog drum machines, hardware synths, and gear. A Nord Lead 2, Roland JP-8000, Kaoss pads, RE-201 Space Echo, SansAmp, other weird pedals, etc. Software synths/samplers/myriad plug-ins like Native Instruments Battery and other stuff. Puremagnetik plugs, Ableton, and MAX for live stuff, and the magical eight-bit plug-in!
Do you like the band Yaz? JV: Totally! Their dance tracks are anthems that hold up. "Only You" is so ahead of its time. The programming and orchestration was like a template for other '80s artists to use when crafting a synth-pop ballad. And Alison Moyet's voice is just ridiculous. The power and control. She's like the Rob Halford of dance music.
Glitterbang have unique style prowess. Please talk about the amalgamation of your look. JV: It's an amalgamation of witches, druids, military uniforms, vintage couture, hiphop/b-boy flare, metal/punk stylings, jean jackets, and leather jackets are a staple. It really pulls itself together—we are constantly thrifting and absorbing inspiration everywhere we go, and all of our interests merge and manifest themselves in our looks. You might see us in some cloaks that are embedded with lights or video screens we can control and manipulate with the music.
NB: Glitterbang are serving techno wizard realness.
What's coming up for you all? JV: We've got some new material coming very soon, but we had a slight setback due to a hard-drive crash—back up your shit, kids! We're looking to release an EP later this summer and a collection of covers and remixes later this year. Other than that, just playing shows and takin' it to the streets as much as possible.