Glimpses of the South Florida Scene: Tumbleweave


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 (and New York City's) Tumbleweave.

Tumbleweave is Ben Mendelewicz and Matt Cutler, who make irreverent

songs that are all eight-bit and spastic and glitchy and jittery. The

tracks from their nine-minute-long album sound even more fantastic live --

the lack of a drum machine grounds them till they're heavy and kind of

punk too. Not surprisingly, the songs were initially meant as a

soundtrack for a series of comics Mendelewicz was working on -- but more about

that later. They've been compared to a heavily electronic Lightning Bolt, but

more suitable would be a series of heavily electronic lightning bolts.

Ben tells us, in a series of emails, about Tumbleweave's beginnings and

how fans can make their own Matt Damon Squeeze (but not really) -- and Cutler explains the meaning of their bizarre, ingenious name.

New Times: Tell me about how you formed Tumbleweave. What were you guys working on before, if anything?

Ben Mendelewicz
: First

of all, I'd like to say that I'm really disappointed that this isn't

Pitchfork. As for how the Weave came to be... Matt and I have been in

bands together since our ska band in middle school. I remember the

guitarist had that cordless guitar plug system thing, which looked so

silly. Needless to say, Matt played trombone and I played a giant Neil

Peart-sized drum set. Not as big as Neil Peart the human, but as big of

a setup as he would have. Anyway, since our last (I guess, post-rock)

band broke up as everyone left for school, I started writing my own

songs based on some comics that I was making. I had planned to release

them as a comic with a soundtrack sort of thing, but then I realized

that would be really stupid. The whole idea of Tumbleweave is to be the

theme songs to a cartoon show I will eventually make. But will probably

never make, if you know what I mean. Long story short, I wanted to play

these songs live, and I turned to the only man who could get the job

done: The ying to my ding dong, Matt Cutler. That's Tumbleweave in a

huge paragraph.

It says you guys are based in both West Palm Beach and New York

City. Who lives where? I saw that, in August, you were "hanging your

Florida hats," so what's going on with that?

Matt and I are

both from West Palm, but he goes to school in Sarasota, and I go to

school in New York. I'm still writing and going to release new stuff,

but maybe I'll find someone to play with in New York since Matt refuses

to drop out and move up here. He might consider it after he's done

shooting his episode of 16 and Pregnant (look for him on the new

season), but it's still up in the air. For right now, we play shows

whenever we are both home, so the next time will probably be around the


I know you're not playing shows in New York (yet), but there's

something to be said for working on music while going to school up

there. So how are you liking it, and what do you think of the music

scene up there -- in comparison to South Florida's but also in general?

There's definitely a lot more cool shows up here. In South Florida,

there's a handful of really awesome weird bands, but the kooky national

and international freakazoid bands might come to Florida once every

five years or something. And even then, they only make it to Orlando.

New York is like a freakin' mecca for weirdos. I do, however, miss

having a car and being able to just drive your stuff somewhere. But

actually, I sort of take that back. Matt and I got into a crazy car

accident this summer; his synth lodged in between his ribs, and I think

the whole incident gave me diabetes. So I have sort of mixed feelings

about cars now. But when you're in a band, cars are awesome! Oh yeah,

and the bums in New York are way more talented than the ones stinkin'

up South Florida. Yuck! Get up and play some homemade bongos or


That sounds treacherous! I'm glad you lived to tell it. You released
Demon Squeeze

recently. Tell me about recording it -- where was it recorded, what was

the process like?  Also -- was that you who did the album art? Any

connection to the comic?

Referring back to my last answer, I guess they wouldn't be homemade bongos, being as the bums have no home. But Demon Squeeze

was recorded in my old bedroom in my parents' house. We had originally

tried recording it earlier in the summer, but it sounded terrible, so we

rerecorded it live in one day, which was a first for me. In the past,

I've had big problems with overworking and spending way too long on

projects. Tracking for days, and then the recordings never sounded like

the live show. It was nice to just knock it out. Like BOOOM! You know?

I mean, c'mon, our set is only like 12 minutes (the CD: nine minutes); why

spend months on it? There's a bunch of mistakes in the recordings, but

I'm willing to sacrifice that to stay true to the live stuff. Plus I

had been mixing and mastering on and off since August, so I guess I'm

still spending way too long on this crap.

I did do the artwork and packaging and stuff myself. Like I said,

all of the songs are mostly based off of drawings I made. At least the

titles. So that album art has been in one of my sketchbooks for almost

over a year now. The comic was originally going to be called Demon Squeeze, but... there is no comic. You can make the comic if you want. I just don't want to.

I know you're recording new stuff. Are you specifically

planning to work on another release? I heard "Sumerian Bonanza," which

isn't on Demon Squeeze, and I'm wondering if there are more releases to come.

I'm gonna try to work on another release, maybe by springtime?

I have to alternate between the artwork I'm doing and school, but we

will definitely play new songs when we play around the holiday

time-times. I'm hoping to get a split eight-track out or something.

"Sumerian Bonanza" ("Aryan Bananas") is part of Matt Damon Squeeze, which is a compilation of all the tracks from Demon Squeeze

sped up 3x. For some reason, Matt found the sped-up files hidden in a

"sibling-porn" folder on his computer, and we really dig them big holes,

mon. They might even be better than the real Squeezes. It will get

released soon, but all those totally boogered-out PC geeks can make

their own Matt Damon Squeeze at home! All you need is a Commodore 64

and some of your friend's skin flakes. We're taking submissions, and

whoever can speed up the tracks the best gets a free copy of their

sped-up tracks.

For sure.  OK... tell me about real tumbleweaves.

Matt Cutler: OK, you know steamed carrots? I wouldn't eat those as a kid. At

dinner, I'd always like, sneak them in my pants and bring them back to

my room and put them in this like, tub on the top shelf of my closet.

So like, they're molding in there and collecting a bunch of dust, and I

didn't know what to do with them. I ended up pouring a whole bottle of,

like, glue over them. So for some reason, I got in the habit of, like,

locking my door after school sometimes and climbing to the top of my

closet to get down this dried glob of like, carrots, weeks old and

dusty. I'd put it on my head and prance around humming "True Colors" by

Cyndi Lauper. I don't know why, but I must have left it out one day (the

glob), and it went missing. My cats got to it because I found it out in

my yard one day, but it was covered in tangled hair from a hairball the

cat spit up. So whatever, I let that get thrown out, but Ben and I were

doing DMT, like, a year ago and fucking the Grim Reaper, Jack the

Ripper, I don't know, some fuckin' whacked-out demon was, like, holding

me in his hand and singing Cyndi Lauper and telling me to relax and

shit. And so, like, here comes his other hand, and he brings it up to me,

and there's that weird ball of hairy carrots lookin' like a weird weave

all balled up. I don't know, that was it. Then we started playing in

this band.

Download Demon Squeeze (donations accepted!), or purchase it

on a bright-yellow CD for $4 (and get a digital, downloadable copy

instantly, in case the mail takes too long) at Tumbleweave's Bandcamp,

and visit their Facebook page.

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Monica Uszerowicz