Toronto’s dramatic Army Girls just released their debut Close To The Bone EP, produced by Fucked Up‘s Ben Cook. The band is a drums-guitar duo featuring the talents of the incredible Carmen Elle (who I’ve been a fan of for a long time now) and Andy Smith. And yeah, the EP is very, very cool.
We posted about Brooklyn indie-poppers Slowdance before but now they’ve got a full EP online (PWYC!) + they’re going on a little tour (including a stop in Toronto @ Wrongbar on October 8th, (for some reason) supporting Anika). Here’s one of the new tracks, the synth-tastic “Les Reines”.
Phot0: Erin Kilkenny
I recently grabbed a phone interview with Josh Wambeke, formerly of the bands Phineas Gage and Fell, and more recently, his whistful, dreampop project The Morning Clouds. It was short, but we managed to talk about his previous bands, the American economy and what it’s like making the Forkcast.
M: You were in a band named Phineas Gage after a dude who got a pole slammed through his head – why was that band named after that individual?
J: Well, I had teamed up with this guy named Patrick Porter who was a guy I grew up with and he already had the name, so it was more or less his thing that I joined and we sort of collaborated and made an album together and got it released on Camera Obscura records from Australia. That was back in ’99, I think.
M: Then you were in a band called Fell. And now you’ve started your newest project The Morning Clouds – so how did that happen?
J: With Fell, everyone started moving in different directions with their lives – my bass player and his wife had a kid, the guitar player was leaving to go to medical school, so I found myself kind of alone. Then I found myself laid off from my job as an auditor that I had worked at for twelve years. But I looked at it more as an opportunity. At first it was weird to get laid off but I looked at it like, “Maybe I can start recording bands in my studio,” but then I was like I really want to work on my stuff too. At that time I had some songs I had written – I think actually “A Walk Home” was the first. I recorded it and really liked how it sounded, and liked doing it, so I just kind of started working on more songs in that vein of things.
M: Are you working anywhere now?
J: I’m still looking for work now. They say the economy is picking up but it’s really not. It’s kind of tough in America.
M: Yeah, I’ve heard it’s pretty bad down there. It’s a little bit better in Canada.
J: Well, yeah, our health care situation sucks. Now that I’m unemployed I can’t just go to the doctor and get antibiotics if I have something that needs to be taken care of so yeah, it’s kind of a tough time. But at least what happened let me focus on myself and that was cool. Not a lot of times in your life do you get to sit and focus on just your life. This at least gave me the opportunity to do that, so I look at it like a good thing.
M: Is there a conceptual vision you have for The Morning Clouds’ sound? Is there a certain idea you’re pursuing with this project, or perhaps a certain aesthetic?
J: I wanted it to be a little bit more lighthearted than my other stuff. If you listen to Fell it’s a little bit more intense and I wanted to just kind of have it have a nostalgic feeling, or a feeling of reflection, because that’s basically what I was doing – just reflecting on the last twelve years of my life. I wanted the songs to be melodic and not always be so experimental. I just wanted to see what I could do making simple songs. But there was no sort of formula, I had some ideas but not really thought out ideas.
M: Is your new stuff a significant break from the stuff you’ve done before or is it simply a natural progression?
J: I think it is a break. There is actually another Fell album in the works, it’s probably going to be the last one, and that album is extremely heavy and dark and it’s got a lot of crazy time signatures. It’s kind of prog-ish in a way, but not prog in the sense of like bands like The Mars Volta, it’s not that extreme. But I never play guitar in standard tuning, I haven’t for years, but [when I was writing these new songs] I started playing in standard tuning again and it came so easy, it was this very easygoing writing process and it was such a cathartic feeling to write the songs. So I guess I wouldn’t say it was a natural progression, but it was something I needed to do. I was feeling a little bit frustrated being stuck in this experimental dark, shoegaze world I was in, I guess.
M: You just got a post on Pitchfork – are you finding that opening some doors? Are you going to go on tour now?
J: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know, that was kind of exciting for us, for me. It’s definitely going to help us a bit, open some doors. That’s just such a huge website that people go to and read about bands and music. Our Facebook fans totally multiplied after that – it was exposure I don’t think we could have gotten otherwise.
Apparently (bird)bones is the work of one Julie Kell – a Toronto transplant from Saskatchewan – and her friend Matt who’s in Montreal. Had to read about them off Germany-based blog No Fear Of Pop – come on, guys! Oh, and the song is pretty and stuff too…