Where: Zhijiang Dream Factory (68 Yuyao Lu, near XikangLu 余姚路68号，同乐坊内)
Starts: Saturday, July 18, 9PM
Cover: 100rmb, 60RMB for students
These Are Powers, an American collaboration between ex-Liars bassist Pat Noecker, singer Anna Barie and drummer/producer Bill Salas will be hitting Zhijiang Dream Factory as part of a Maybe Mars lineup with P.K.14 and Carsick Cars on Saturday.
The band at some point coined themselves as ghost-punk, but they’ve flitted through various influences since then – to the point where nobody’s really sure what to say about them, except maybe that they’re awesomely weird. Their latest album, this year’s All Aboard Future, was christened by Pitchfork as “the appropriate soundtrack for a bombed-out, water-damaged Brooklyn basement with one bulb for light. If the Yeah Yeah Yeahs had pursued the more confrontational branches of New York no-wave, they would probably sound like this.”
Anna and Bill took a couple of our questions, telling us about meeting Maybe Mars for the first time, the twin influences of Chicago and Brooklyn on their music, and how they come up with their dark fuzzy frantic sound.
How’s the China tour treating you so far? You were in Beijing before?
Anna: We’re in Beijing right now and leaving for Wuhan tonight by train. We’ve played in Beijing and Tianjin since we got here about a week and a half ago. It’s not quite like touring in the States where we’re playing every night… it’s taken us some time to acclimate to things like jet lag and the smog… but we’ve gotten a lot of site seeing done too.
Where are you off to after the Shanghai stop?
Anna: We’ll be playing in Hangzhou, then we return to Beijing to play a few more shows before we go.
How did you decide to come all the way out here? Have you been abroad before?
Anna: We played Europe past fall. We did ten countries last year, we’re hoping to do at least that many.
What’s really great is that this trip is essentially two years in the making. Maybe Mars had been in New York with Carsick Cars and a few other people… I’m not sure what they were doing there, just visiting? But they came to a show we performed with Ex Models and Telepathe and after they saw us perform, they invited us to play in China.
It took a while for all the details to come together. It’s the first time anything like this has been done for them – getting a foreign band here and organizing these kinds of shows. It seems like it’s a lot different as far as the infrastructure is concerned.
They’re trying to build up things on both sides, not only on getting musicians what they need but also working with promoters/clubs and helping them understand what it takes to put on a bigger production… we’re learning a lot about how people make music here in China and we hope they’re learning from us as well.
I think they’re planning on bringing bands over to NY in the fall so we’d love to help them out if possible.
So you’re profile says you’re from Brooklyn…
Anna: Well, we were living in Brooklyn for quite a while. Pat was there for about 10 years and I was there for 8. We were originally in Chicago, and so we’ve also been going back and forth between those two places since we have friends and families in both those cities. After Bill (the drummer) joined the band, we started writing songs with him there. So basically, when we’re not on the road, we actually divide our time between New York and Chicago.
You’re from two cities then. Does that affect your music?
Anna: Absolutely… I think that we’re really lucky to consider two places our home – we get to gather inspiration from bands in each city. There’s a style that’s popular in Chicago called Juke that’s kind of fast dance music which draws upon the hip hop and Chicago school of sound and that’s been an influence for Bill when he writes beats for the band.
Bill: Juke is just a regional type of urban dance music. It’s pretty closely related to the Baltimore club style… really fast, dirty, syncopated bass drum. It’s a very particular dance music that probably started in the south side of Chicago but everywhere in Chicago‘s into it. You can hear it on the radio in late nights.
Anna: It’s interesting, they have a lot of energy and culture in NY, but Chicago gives us more of an opportunity to focus on writing music, buckle down and write… for 10 days in the studio, you know?
Your music isn’t the type that seems easy to describe, so if people ask what you guys play in a nutshell, how do you answer them?
Bill: We don’t have a genre name really for it. It’s dance music and hip hop and noise. That’s where we were coming from right now, we like to borrow stuff from those.
How do you create your songs? Who throws what into the mix for making your music?
Bill: It’s very much a collaborative… lately I’ve been coming up with particular sounds and rhythms – skeleton tracks, four eight part loops and a general idea or direction for the song.
Once we like the notes, I’ll make the beats to the music and figure out how to play them live. Anna and Pat bring their own parts and we’ll join it together and then it becomes more like a typical band… writing music electronically and then setting it up at band practice.
What are you hoping for from your show here?
Bill: A good crowd would be nice. Other than that I’m not asking for anything else.
What’s up next for These Are Powers?
Bill: We have some cool shows we’re excited about in early August in New York. Then we’re doing a European tour in September… that’ll be pretty great. And after that, we’ll be fleshing out some other ideas we have.