Okay, here's a spot test for you. San Francisco's Numbers create pop music. Angry, disjointed, manic, grungy pop music. Their third album, We're Animals, bruises and glowers red-purple, blisters its way through a crude punk-funk of their own making, spits grinning defiance in the face of globalization. Think Erase Errata, Detroit's dislocated disco band Adult., or any of those fretting post-Krautrock faces grooving on down over at Tigerbeat6... but not the Slits, okay? Fuck dude, the Slits were reggae, that's what everyone forgets. This is music for dancing to, right enough, but it's not reggae, and it's not electroclash either—these kids (er, adults) are as bellowing unhipster as it gets.
Anyway, the pop quiz: Take the following quotes, all achieved randomly from a band who turn random minimalist sequencing into an art form (although it's rumored some of the songs on We're Animals last over—shudder—two minutes!) and see how they color previous Numbers conceptions.
"I've been eating a ton of weird Japanese candy lately," remarks Dave Broekema (his guitar, the sound of 1,000 naked ray guns). "When we were recording, we ate breakfast at the Brite Spot diner in Echo Park, L.A., every day. We didn't listen to anything other than to our own songs over and over again in bits and pieces and at length and finally blissful silence. And then—satisfaction!"
"I drank a lot of green tea," continues vocalist/drummer Indra Dunis (the sound of eternal liberty). "Before recording, I listened obsessively to early Brian Eno records. Also Can, Black Sabbath, and Neil Young."
"Immediately upon getting back from tour I like sitting in one place, not moving, and watching movies," says Eric Landmark (keyboards of undying devotion to true personal freedom). "I just watched Die Nibelungen, Fritz Lang's 1924 five-hour epic of Teutonic legend. It was mesmerizing—except for the dragon, which wasn't scary."
Got it? A love for esoteric pop culture, Japan, dragons, and food: Has it altered your viewpoint? Numbers rock the house-party scene, and thump instruments like they're Republicans. Their new album sounds insanely raw for a studio record. Indra (whisper it) sings in something approaching harmony. This music is insanely good in places, particularly the knee-jerk guitar reactions on "I'll Love You 'Til I Don't" and "The Fuck You Garage." Try these next quotes then, and keep an open mind.
"We just got back from touring Japan. It was amazing," reveals Dave. (Japan—told you!) "Look out for these bands: Limited Express (Has Gone), Ni Hao!, and Idea of a Joke—and now I'm back at my mechanic job."
"Last year was a big time of change," writes Indra. "We hit a wall and had to figure out which way to go. Not that I didn't like the no wave punk/dance songs anymore, but I didn't feel I needed to keep writing songs like that. The album title is pretty literal. We are all animals. Maybe we have more developed brains than other species, but when it comes down to it, we're all made up of flesh and hair, blood and bones..."
"When I was a teenager I lived in the suburbs, was fantastically depressed, and obsessed with Catcher in the Rye and Clockwork Orange," reveals Eric. Sound familiar? If it doesn't, it's probably only down to generational divide or something. Everyone goes through this. Well, everyone I know. Or maybe Eric is an Anglophile (all the kids I knew were British). Wait! Where are you going? There's more.
"Iron Maiden 'saved' me as a teenager," smiles Dave. "But there's a really fine line between 'saved' and 'doomed.' I used to get hassled by the jocks every day."
Okay, what do you reckon? Three young adults, feeling compressed and oppressed by society's everyday restrictions, spend most of their 20s in search of a sense of belonging, chance upon one another, and create one of America's most excellent jerk rock bands extant. You do call this music jerk rock, right? Take it, Indra.
"Lyrically, I don't think the album only has one theme—but a few of the songs I wrote have to do with nature and people relating to nature."firstname.lastname@example.org