Can a band be considered a "supergroup" when only a minuscule percentage of the population knows of their existence? The answer is yes, if the supergroup in question happens to be AFCGT.
AFCGT stands for the volatile combination of Seattle underground-rock mavericks A Frames and Climax Golden Twins. AFCGT's members—Min Yee (bass), Thommy Northcut (drums), Erin Sullivan (guitar), Jeffery Taylor (guitar), and Rob Millis (guitar)—opted to answer questions for this interview as a unified entity, reflecting their egoless approach to music making, but refused to expound substantially on any of the queries.
It's hard to blame them for this reticence. These local stalwarts have done the been-there/done-that jig, and they've earned the right to their insular, semianonymous approach to negotiating through the music biz's rancid labyrinths.
Climax Golden Twins (Taylor and Millis) have been augmenting headspaces in subterranean experimental-music circles since 1993. They opened for Sonic Youth in 1998, have garnered worshipful praise from respected publications worldwide, composed the soundtrack for Session 9, and have one of the region's most vast and elusive discographies. They also enable folks to enjoy the fruits of their expansive collection of 78s, curating the Victrola Favorites compilations for the Dust-to-Digital label. A Frames have issued three lacerating, tar-dark, post-punk albums—including 2005's Black Forest on Sub Pop—and never fail to kill it live.
Over the years, A Frames guitarist Erin Sullivan occasionally has sat in on drums for Climax Golden Twins, so AFCGT already possessed a connection before the principals took the great leap to merge powers. However, no grand master plan prompted their union.
"At some point a year or two ago, [Climax Golden Twins] were invited to blurt some sonic goo onto magnetic tapes the A Frames were working up," the band relate. "A sure-enough good time was had, and it felt right to continue forward."
From such humble origins the quintet soon schemed to release a self-titled blood-red-vinyl 10-inch EP (on local micro-indie Dirty Knobby Industries, destined to go for three figures on eBay by 2012). It's a blast of bile that encompasses no-wave histrionics, cyclotronic noise rock, and tempestuous free jazz. Traumatizing treble prevails, as nearly every song articulates an aural "fuck you" impudently jabbing you in the sternum. The sound is at once exhilarating and punishing.
The EP's great last track—"Return of the Leper," an ethnodelic ramble that eludes easy geographical/sonic placement—sounds like something one might hear on a Sublime Frequencies release; it's a departure from AFCGT's output.
"It was a completely spontaneous jam celebrating the return of a band member that had been on hiatus," AFCGT say. "Or it was a completely spontaneous jam celebrating the departure of a band member going on hiatus. Can't remember which."
The group's self-titled debut LP, like the EP, scants on details and liner notes, and no band photos adorn the cover, in keeping with AFCGT's reluctance to perpetuate the cult of personality. (You want to know what these sex machines look like? Go to one of their gigs—just don't forget the ear prophylactics.) But that's not to say the band's full-length is a replica of the 10-inch—it's slightly more refined; in fact, "Return to Thundernest" even emits a spindly, gnarled beauty and some semblance of a melody. But in general, AFCGT still throttle conventional rock niceties with white-knuckled intensity, sending the VU needle vibrating into the red like a stressed-to-the-max forehead vein.
The AFCGT sound is more aggressive and hostile than either A Frames or Climax Golden Twins produce on their own respective releases. The creators were not at all surprised by this turn of events.
"The aggressive quality is heightened by the simple fact that three electric guitars tend to generate a great deal of volume," they explain. "Volume and aggressiveness are inextricably linked in the simian mind."
Live and on wax (these guys rep analog media hard), AFCGT appear to proceed with a raw, first-thought-best-thought approach. The group confirm that a primal, unpremeditated MO fuels their creations.
This method allows AFCGT to work swiftly, and they've completed yet another album, which Sub Pop will likely release in 2009.
Both units' members have seen and heard so much rock music in their lifetimes. What keeps them excited about the genre after all these years?
"The release of endogenous opioid polypeptide compounds in response to playing (and hearing) this music is a good reason." Spoken like a true supergroup.