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HomeBlogsJeff Hewitt's blogInterview at Charlies: True Body opens for Exploded View and FORMA

Interview at Charlies: True Body opens for Exploded View and FORMA

November 12, 2018380Views

The election came and went and though we sort of won it feels somehow hollow. Empty. And of course it’s because nothing has changed.

Maybe something eventually will, but that obscene, bilious, foul smelling bag of shit that we somehow allowed to be elected President still perches from atop his throne — issuing vile, vacuous proclamations from on high. He isn’t going anywhere, not anytime soon.

Nancy Pelosi’s statements about bipartisanship did much to throw ice cold water on a historic night where more women than at any other point in history won House seats. Dammit, we don't want to reach across the aisle. We want to stop this fuckstick from getting us all murdered. But it feels entirely hopeless, doesn’t it? The red menace will continue its fanatic crusade to legislate us all out of existence. And make no mistake, that’s what they’re trying do. Make it illegal to be anything other than what makes them comfortable. Outlaw the queer, both by antiquated definition as well as by sexual orientation.

Those of us old enough to remember life under King Ronald and Queen Thatcher recall with clear eyes and trembling hands the horrors of scrambling to dodge that iron boot of homogeneity. Is it any wonder that the music we love best is the soundtrack of our survival through those dark, dire days? We adored Sad Robert because his misery made sense. We worshipped at the altar of Morrisey because he wasn’t afraid to be awkward, even if we prefer that his here and now version stick to the songs and otherwise keep his vaguely racist, misogynist mouth shut. And if we keep a heavy heart when we recall Ian Curtis, we take some bittersweet satisfaction that those of us who did not make it are enjoying his serenade in the great beyond.

And so many of us did not make it. It’s easy to forget in how bad right now feels, that the 80s holds a liturgy of names of the fallen. Agent Orange may make it feel like he’s killing us not so softly with his song, but Mr. Tear Down This Wall was responsible for actual genocide by way of inaction. His refusal to push a federal response to the AIDS epidemic let the bells toll a breathless dirge of staggering proportion. And we all know his denial of service stemmed from the notion of it being a "disease for faggots." Nevermind the fact that New York City paying a higher price than most towns probably didn't upset the ole Gipper too much. They say we shouldn't speak ill of the dead, but I'd dig that corpse up in three seconds flat to piss all over it, if I had the means. Fuck Reagan. Fuck his memory. Fuck his legacy.

Not comfortable with that sentiment? Why don't you ask one of the over six hundred thousand victims of HIV how they feel about it? Oh.. That's right. You can't.

For real.

None of this is to say that now isn’t awful. Of course it’s awful. But it’s hard not to wonder if bands centering around existential angst don’t pop up in times like this out of the directive of some sort of societal antibody. And you know, I’ve never asked them where the name comes from, but I don't think it's too crazy to posit that maybe True Body is in fact a real, honest to insert diety/vague universal stardust belief, actual antibody? Musical penicillin, or some kind of sonic SSRI, one that could keep you alive through the carnage of the now. The more I think of it, the more I like the idea of it. Seems to ruminate against the back of my head, where I keep my secret heart. No one will ever think to look for it there, hidden alongside my sneaking suspicion that this band should have been hanging out with all those other bands back in the 80s. It’s just that their time machine fucked up, and now they’re stuck here with us. Then again, maybe that's best. Had they not hitched a ride to the future in the DeLorean, they might not have made it out alive, either.

. . .

Since their big relocation from here to RVA at the end of the Summer, the band has added a new member to the solid lineup of Isaac Moreno's vocals backed by Kevin Painter's lead guitar work and the rhythm section of Sam Ramos and Nathan Byrum -- who pulls double duty between keyboards, ambience, and holding down the four-string groove. Hector Miranda has stepped in to provide a substantive rhythm guitar, and for at least one song we caught a tantalizing glimpse of an added dimension to the group's sound with Sarita Farnelli on alto sax. I was reminded for a second of (yes -- a Cure reference, slag off if you don't like it) Head on the Door's horn section, but whether she'll become an actual permanent fixture with the rest is tentative.

Of course, True Body was just opening for this gig, and the only complaint I have is that the set was short as a result. I can never get enough of their sound. I nabbed a few minutes with Moreno to catch up on where True Body is right here, right now.


What’s the transition to RVA been like? You all living in the same place? Are you ready to murder each other yet?
(laughs) -- No.. It’s been wonderful actually. Nothing is without its cons, but we were lucky enough to be able to make friends in the city before we moved, so the transition was fairly smooth. Also after you’ve spent multiple weeks, broke and touring in a Toyota Echo with your band, living in a house together is nothing!

Hah, that's great! I've heard that new record is in the final mastering stage -- is there a title yet?
Yeah, the title is actually one of the first things we came up with for the record (it’s been in the works for around 3-4 years. It’s -- Heavenly Rhythms for the Uninitiated.

Is there a story behind that?
Not really, I was just really interested in the idea of high spiritually being brought down and assimilated by degenerates (us) through low art (rock n roll).. I had a lot of imagery running through my head as we were writing, pictures of shared, dramatic human experiences filtered through an atmosphere of divinity and other-ness. I’m not sure if that makes sense but that’s what kind of locked in the title.

I feel like I was hearing a bit of a new direction last night, something with a harder edge to it than what has come before? Am I imagining that? And if I'm not, what's pushing you that way?
You are not imagining that! (laughing) -- Honestly, a year or two after the project began, my mind was blown open by rock n roll for the first time. Ever since then we’ve had the intention of shifting over to that side of things while still keeping our core genuine.

We’ve also been working on making our soft songs softer and our aggressive songs more powerful.

Is that some of Order seeping through?
Not really, a lot of the songs on the new record were born before Order.Note: Order is a hardcore project that most of TB's members are in, with Byrum on lead and the rest shifting roles, featuring Ryan Stoner on drums.

Gotcha. what was the band that you heard that blew your mind?
Man.. Lou reed’s voice? That was the beginning of my voracious consumption of the genre. I felt David Bowie speaking to me after he died, weird things like that. And that's all led to being able to focus on music as work. Which is wonderful.


. . .

Hailing from Brooklyn, the members of Forma contributed a searing, intensely moody set of ambient instrumentalism that transported listeners to a sonic seance. I'm not really qualified to evaluate this kind of music, but it left a mark on me and continues to do so as I listen while writing this now.

Exploded View headlined. Nominally based in Mexico City, the group's central figure -- Annika Henderson was born in the UK but transplanted to Berlin. I suspect that moving to a city that once tried to bomb your hometown out of existence does much to bring the dangers of totalitarianism to bear, be it on a national stage or from within the realm of one on one interactions.

The group has morphed significantly from their early, raw sound to experiment with ambient noise and overdubbing. The result is a mesmerizing exploration sourced from their most recent record -- "Obey." These songs take you are a journey beyond the real. And there's no doubt that Henderson reflects on these themes intensely as she travels through our heartlands. Consider her vision statement for the project: "We live in a society where we must obey or risk punishment. This can be social punishment, legal punishment, emotional punishment - if you dare to step outside, you will reap the reward. We live in a time when we are self-certifying a lot. Whether it’s how we present ourselves on social media or our diet or our job - we obey the social norms. Our fears are used against us by advertisers. Our fears of growing old or being excluded - we must conform or pay the high price - buy this and you will be accepted. We must obey.”

. . .

Where will you stand when the call to submit is issued? How far are you willing to go? Will you obey? Or will you take up the fight?

I know where I'm standing.

How bout you?

- end transmission -

True Body

Richmond. Post-Punk.

Exploded View

Mexico City, Mexico. Experimental. German Electronica.

FORMA

New York. Ambient Instrumental.

Words & pictures by Jeff Hewitt. Shot on Kodak Tri-X film and home developed. You can see more of Jeff's work at Jeff-Hewitt.com.