Glimpses of the South Florida Scene: The Band in Heaven
of the South Florida Scene is a weekly column devoted to the
artists thriving within Broward and Palm Beach counties featuring
interviews with the folks making it happen. This week, West Palm Beach's the Band in Heaven.
The Band in Heaven is the stuff of dreams, channeled
directly from the heavens and sailing through nebulas. Formerly
based in Orlando, the duo of Ates Isildak and Lauren Dwyer often perform with Tumbleweave's Ben Mendelewicz on drums. Their recorded work, though, sounds too intimate and personal
to be spread throughout too many warm bodies. Isildak's guitar work features layers of otherworldly distortion and pays happy
homage to shoegaze. The "tropical depression" description on their MySpace
implies a warmer form of this kind of dazed rock, and ties into the lyrical content, too. This week, they released a four-song split cassette with another South Florida fave Weird Wives, featuring the gritty "Suicide Pact" and "Summer Bummer." After the jump, read the story behind "Summer Bummer," plus follow the link to download the seriously badass split yourself.
New Times: How did The Band In Heaven come about? What were the two of you
working on before?
It was right around the time I left my old band with my old roommates, who didn't want
to play any of these songs I had been writing. Lauren and I were working on these songs
and wanted to stay together and play together because we are best friends, so we moved
to West Palm into our parent's homes and started booking shows.
You're a two-piece, but whom do you perform with live? Is it usually just the two of you?
Lauren and I work on the music together but we'll probably play with lots of different
people live. I've always liked relying on my friends for creative input. Originally it was
Lauren playing electronic drums and percussion and me singing and playing guitar, but
lately she's been playing percussion and singing and Ben Mendelewicz (of the bands
Monsters and Tumbleweave) has been playing drums. I think we'll get lots of people to
play on the album, too.
What influences - musically, cinematically, mentally and otherwise - are you drawing
on when you write your lyrics and record? (I asked about films because you mention
Masculin Feminin on your site.)
The last four films that had an overbearing influence on me artistically and emotionally
were Jean-Luc Godard's Masculin Feminin, William Klein's Qui êtes vous, Polly Magoo?
, Federico Fellini's 8 1/2, and Woody Allen's Stardust Memories (sort of based on
Fellini's film). All these films are confusing and beautiful and shot in black and white.
I've always felt somewhat synesthetic, and maybe it's awfully boring of me to say but I
wanted to make music that sounded black and white to me. Stark but still emotional.
What are the both of you listening to, lately and always?
Aside from the bands I'm always listening to like the Velvet Underground, Spacemen 3,
Suicide, and The Jesus and Mary Chain, I've been having so much fun listening to all
my friends' bands. I remember going to shows when I was younger just to be supportive
of my friends' music, not really caring for the music itself. I don't know what happened,
but everyone got really good. Been listening to Weird Wives, Dead Meat, Surfer Blood,
Woven Bones, the Dewars, Love Handles, Sleigh Bells. Everyone has been making such
good music the last few years. It's exciting and it also makes me feel like I have to try
hard to keep up, in good way.
You've got some demos available for download. When can we start looking forward to
An E.P. should be finished by October. I guess we'll put it out by ourselves, and then we'll
continue working on our full length. We record everything ourselves right now, but
maybe for the full length we will leave the recording aspect to someone else.
You used to live in Orlando; now you're in West Palm Beach. How would you compare
the local scenes in both places - more shows, less shows?
There seems to be a much stronger sense of community in South Florida as far as I can
tell. Everyone has been so supportive of us and we've only been living back here for
about three weeks. I mean, our band has only even been a band for about two months,
and so many people are helping us out for no reason. It's endearing.
Tell me about being a South Florida band. What do you love and hate most about it?
I've always hated that Florida is so long and everything is so spread out. It makes touring
so difficult. Getting out of the state from West Palm takes maybe seven hours or so.
Once you're up the East Coast you can pass through like three states in seven hours'
time. But being trapped in Florida has always just led to a lot of us bonding together and
collaborating and forming real friendships.
Would you say being a Florida band has influenced you in any way - as far as your
friends' bands and even the physical landscape of the state?
I think my answer is the same as above but I will say that I never thought much about
warm weather and the beach and palm trees until I was stuck in New Mexico in winter,
thinking I was going to freeze to death. This last winter was the first time I experienced
whatever people call "seasonal depression." All I could think about was how much I
missed the ocean and the warm weather. Ever since then I've been reveling in the sun,
and taking advantage of living so close to the beach.
Spend your hard-earned $3 and download the Band in Heaven/Weird Wives split at the Band in Heaven's Bandcamp page here.
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