What does it mean to be a “New York City-based band” in 2020? As Manhattan has become an egregiously unaffordable, skyscraper-hemmed resort town and Brooklyn long ago resigning to the onslaught of gentrification, a good many artists–even ones who had become synonymous with the city (and could actually afford to live there)–have fled. A recent New York Times profile of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon–a NYC-icon if there ever was one–made it a point to mention that Gordon was not only an “ex-wife” but even, “yes, an ex-New Yorker.”
Despite it all, the noisy psychedelia of A Place to Bury Strangers endures. And, yes, still emanates from New York City. Since its formation in 2002, through roughly a dozen full-lengths and EPs, the band, commonly abbreviated as APTBS, has provided listeners–and especially live audiences–an unforgettable sonic experience, filled with surprising, even chaotic, always tasteful twists and turns. They continue to make it work–and work well–in the Big Apple, moving the band’s operating HQ from a Brooklyn studio to a warehouse in Queens, creating and innovating; artist-exodus and stifling-NYC-rent-prices be damned!
In 2018, APTBS released Pinned, its fifth studio album and the first to feature newly assigned drummer Lia Simone Braswell handling a share of lead vocals. The band is in the Sunshine State for a run of dates, which includes a headlining spot on Saturday, February 8 at Winterland in 5 Points. We caught up with longtime APTBS front-person, Oliver Ackermann–who also founded the very cool effects pedal company Death by Audio–and, since Winterland is all about the Sunshine State, selfishly asked him about Florida.
This February run is an exclusively Florida tour, yes? How did Florida get so lucky to get you all to ourselves?
It is. We thought hey Florida is one of those places that is unlike anywhere else. It’s kind of like its own country so figured it would be enough to just go there and then once we were in we wouldn’t get stopped at any borders.
Many bands seem to skip over FL all-together. What have your Sunshine State experiences been like in the past?
I remember getting food poisoning or some sort of sickness, hanging with some alligators, eating lemons the size of grapefruits and melting on the beach. I’m excited to see some friends who wisely moved down from NY to there. I guess when you don’t want grey skies and depression you move to Florida? Also seems like a lot of good fun proactive freaks down there so I am excited to join in.
Alright, enough about us. What’s going on with APTBS? (Somewhat) New record? What’s the response to 2018’s Pinned been like as you’ve toured it?
We have been working on recording and building things for the future. It’s been a bit of a slow experience but I’m excited for the results. A lot of things unlike anything else we’ve ever done. I think the touring of Pinned was some of our best tours yet. People seem to really be into the record a lot and a lot of the songs are really intense and make me feel extreme anxiety which can channel into quite some interesting performances.
And a new addition to the band, right? Can you tell us about Lia Simone Braswell joining the group and what that’s brought to the band’s recordings and live performances?
Lia is awesome–truly an incredible player. She has an interesting creative approach to writing and performing music so I think it goes really well with the more traditional experimental structures and such we have done in the past.
And what’s new with Death by Audio? I imagine our Northeast Florida gear heads are frothing for an update on your new space.
Well, come on out and find out. I will definitely be bringing a lot of new ideas and such down there. It’s business as usual over here at DBA. We are just working 20-hour days designing new effectors that usually just get used in art installations and sometimes make their way through to the line. Come hang out, I’d love to hear what you all are up to and share some of the cold dark New York grit with you.