Friday, June 22, 2007
The Trucks: Covering Ground
The Trucks cover a lot of ground, emotionally and stylistically, on their eponymous debut. They can be profane singing and ode to, well, equipment in “Diddle-Bot” or beautifully bittersweet, listening to the voice of a boyfriend on an answering machine in “Messages.” The can be creepy and cool, as in “Zombie” (no, it’s not the irritating Cranberries tune) or absurdly hilarious as in “Man Voice.” Though they describe their sound as “two 1987 Casios in a lover's quarrel,” they have punk energy and ethics. The come to Great Scott in Boston tonight, and I was able to catch up with Lindy Marie McIntyre (drums, percussion, and keys) and Marissa Naselle Moore (vocals, xylophone, sound effects) by e-mail to talk a bit about the band and the music.
How did the band come together?
Marissa: We were all living in Bellingham and had known each other for about a year. We got together one day to hang out and ended up at the park across the street from my apartment with a guitar and a rainbow colored xylophone I'd just bought for $2 at the thrift shop. Our friend Lizz joined and helped really get things started. we made up some songs and played a few shows. After about a year we grabbed Lindy, our bad ass drummer. She was in one of my favorite local bands, Everybody's Debbie. They're like our big sisters, and let us borrow her, then let us keep her.
What's Bellingham music scene like?
Marissa: Generous and supportive, for the most part. Garage rock, metal, blue grass, electro pop, a lot of people are in two or three different bands with vastly different styles. Everyone is friends. It's a smallish city so everybody knows what's happening, and the excitement just kind of circulates. There is a lot of good music coming out of there, and a lot of good audience too. There's a determined all-ages advocacy, and the venues treat the musicians well.
Lindy: It was going really strong for a long time and these amazing bands were coming out of Bellingham. Bands I will never get sick of until the day I die. There were some legendary shows at the 3B Tavern when it was open and since it shut down the town hasn't been the same for me. I moved away to Olympia late last summer and I haven't really kept up on it too much since.
How does the songwriting come together? Is their a specific split as to who writes music and who writes words?
Lindy: I definitely stay away from writing lyrics. The band would probably die laughing at how horrible my songwriting is. I am the drummer so I just play the beat I feel when somebody brings a new song to the group. Sometimes I'll mess around on the keys and that's how our song “3 a.m.” developed into what it is. The other girls write the lyrics, it's pretty much split up between the three of them I think.
Marissa: We show up with scraps of ideas, and combine and elaborate on them as a group. A lot of times we're already thinking along the same lines. We got together to write last weekend, and I had just made a comic of an old lady in bed that said "I can still fuck shit up" ... "when I can get up." And Faith got all excited because she had sent Kristin an e-mail that said, let's make a song about fucking shit up. It evolved to "We're gonna fuck shit up, as soon as we can get it up." We stomp and sing in opera voice, like Vikings, and Kristin's tooth is missing, me and Lindy got the mallets. It's booming and rad.
There are a lot of different moods and styles. Does any one person in the band tend toward a specific type of song? Does each person bring a distinct group of influences?
Lindy: We each contribute something different to the band for sure. I think Faith likes to bring darker stuff into it. I am closer to her in that way. We both really like The Cure and as a side note, wear black all the time. Where as Kristin and Marissa like more electro type stuff and wear crazy colorful things that don't match. I don't know why I had to throw in the thing about the clothes, but it's true. I think there is a connection there. We all just fit so well together that I don't even think we know we are playing out these different influences. Somehow it works.
Marissa: Yeah, we all come from different musical tastes. On tour, whoever's driving gets to choose the music, and sometimes the rest of us have to put earplugs in. Or hide certain CDs ‘til we get back. but we all love the Cure, and Zorbatron, and Snuggle, and Of Montreal, and Queens of the Stone Age and Bjork. Faith and Lindy are more hard core. They're always talking about these underground punk and metal bands that would probably kick me and Kristin's asses. Kristin likes dance beats and folk music. I like music boxes, and Johnny Cash, and weird stuff that sounds like you don't know how to play your instrument.
A lot of your sound seems influenced also by music that was underground and exciting in the late 80s – everything from Kate Bush to the Dead Milkmen. Was that a particularly fertile period for you?
Marissa: Kristin was already making music by then, and lindy and faith were probably already bad-ass. I was just doing the walking like an Egyptian dance at slumber parties on a sugar high. I'm a late bloomer, but have developed a belated appreciation for bands of the era.
Lindy: I think that is when I became fertile but not necessarily with music. I had some bad taste in music man. I wasn't one of those lucky ones that had an older brother with good taste in punk or metal. I had to go find that on my own and it took a long time for me. I think I have always had a little Butt Rocker in me though. I used to head bang so hard in 6th grade that I couldn't turn my head for days.
Are you influenced by film? Some of the tunes, "Zombie" most obviously, have that wonderful squirmy, claustrophobic tension of 80s horror movies.
Marissa: It's probably impossible to not be. But yeah, "Zombie" always reminds me of the creepy strobie rave scene where you know something's gonna happen. I remember seeing that one movie where the slug things would wiggle into your ears and then you were a zombie. And of course "Thriller." That song was written about my first night in Seattle.
Lindy: I don't think film has ever really influenced the band. I know Kristin rented a Ballet video from the library once and randomly discovered it matched up with our music. I have seen it with my own eyes and I couldn't believe what a perfect fit it was. "Zombie" is about a real life experience at a bar in Seattle. Zombies took over this bar and Marissa killed them all.
Do people have a problem with the song "Man Voice?" I was told a lot of people don't like that one, I find it hilarious. The man voice sounds like Beauregard, the janitor from the Muppets.
Lindy: Not that I know of. Maybe they don't like it cause it's too amazing. I think Maris does it perfectly. That low voice coming out of such a beautiful lady.... I'm glad you can see the humor in it.
Marissa: Thanks! For a long time, the man voice was my one true talent. It got me into the band, then I quickly learned a few other tricks to keep my place. I'm glad you like it. It's a true story.
Does anyone in the band actually play a Casio?
Lindy: We have two. They're shitty and we love them.
Marissa: Me and Kristin both do. They are beat up and duct taped back together. The power jack's broken so we use a lot of batteries.
How do you make such a raw, human sound with electronic instruments? Do you use vintage electronic instruments? It seems that we've come so far with instrument technology that a keyboard from 1989 is almost an acoustic guitar.
Marissa: Um, we don't do anything special. We just got lucky.
Lindy: You make it sound so fancy. I guess they are vintage but I don't know that it was ever intentional. We were and still are poor ladies that wanted to do play some music and then, poof! It became what it is. The raw sound comes naturally with crappy gear. I don't mind. I'd like it louder but it is just dirty enough sounding for me.
Who was Lizz Whitmore, the person you dedicated the album to in the liner notes?
Marissa: Lizz Whitmore was an outstanding person and a good friend. She was a astonishingly talented dancer and performer. She was also lead singer of Bellingham band Ash and the Widow-makers. She played drums with us when we first started playing together, and really upped the ante of our performances with her energy, vast costume collection, and vibrant creative spirit. She died in 2004 of cancer. It happened so fast and was a big shock to everyone, but she has continued to be an inspiration to everyone who knew her. Kristin has a couple solo songs written specifically about her. You should try to hear them they are beautiful. Thanks for asking!