"Blank Touch", taken from PC Worship's forthcoming LP Buried Wish is one tough song. Bringing to mind the puffed chest of early Royal Trux and the swagger of Lou Reed's Sally Can't Dance album, it's an off-kilter journey that swings with bluster and attitude. It's also one of the more explicit and hook laden rock songs that Justin Frye has written in recent times.
Frye is the singer and multi-instrumentalist of the Brooklyn based band, solo project and musical collective that lurks on the outskirts of punk, while enlisting methods of new music and free improvisation. Joining Frye on "Blank Touch" was guitarist Michael Etten, drummer Shannon Sigley, bassist Jordan Bernstein and Pat Spadine manipulating taped guitar solos.
Frye wrote and recorded Buried Wish throughout 2016 in the basement of a condemned building. Halfway though the process it flooded. Material was sourced from drawn out solo tracking, upright bass experiments and large ensemble improv sessions.
Improvisation and experimentation remains a big part of Frye's approach to music and earlier this week he released a piece titled "24 Hr. Soul Cycle #1 for Double Bass, Controlled Feedback & IMA TV/Radio tuned to 93.9 WNYC". He describes it as a way to exorcizes his internal political conflict by improvising with radio.
Listen to "Blank Touch" and read a brief chat we had with Justin below.
Noisey: I like the idea behind "Blank Touch". Like sex without strings or Tinder or something. It's very 2017. Is there an inherent meaning behind the track?
Justin Frye: The process for writing this song began with a poem (which the form of the song references as well) that I wrote five years ago. It was partially about the de-evolution of love and intimacy, among a ton of other things, like cooperate greed and the subtlety of a cat wandering through a parking lot/trash pile. I don't think I've ever written anything wth an explicit or inherent meaning, usually my aim is to exorcise and connect meandering ideas, which might be relatively unrelated outside of my experience, but have strong personal relation. A central theme in this song is anonymity, so I can definitely see how you came to your interpretation.
Your parents were in bar bands. The word has a negative connotation but some bar bands rock. What kind of music where they playing?
'Bar Band' definitely doesn't have a negative connotation for me. To me, it indicates a hard working band, that makes money and plays regularly for people's entertainment. There's a certain amount of hustle and grind involved, you have to be tough to be in a bar band, you have to have thick skin and play your shit right. My parents were a massive influence on my musicality and the way I reference their experience is to provide a perspective for my inability to detach from the medium of "pop music", almost on a subconscious level. Regardless of how far down the rabbit hole I go of free improvising, noise or even classical music, I always feel inherently connected to "rock". One of my earliest memories is falling asleep in their practice room while they learned "Because the Night".
You used to work at Cake Shop. What did you think of the closing? Are there any venues to fill the void?
It's a bummer they're closing, but in New York the only constant is change. There's never been a void for live music or art here since I moved here in 2003 and I doubt there ever will be, it's too chaotic for voids.
I just heard your improvisation of your radio and double bass. Is this something you look to continue to explore?
Yes, I have a long history of playing the upright bass and am definitely going to keep the political exorcism improvisations going, while living in a political twilight zone. In terms of performing on bass itself, all the "interludes" or tape pieces on Buried Wish are culled from double bass / internal feedback recordings I made and played back on manipulated tape and the second PC Worship recording ever released was called Double Bass and Vocals, so it is definitely a long running thread, that I have every intention to continue.
Catch PC Worship at these shows with Naomi Punk (except Oberlin, with Tonstarrtbandht)
02/03 – Oberlin College, Ohio
02/09 – Washington, D.C. – Comet Ping Pong
02/10 – Norfolk, VA – Charlie's American Cafe
02/11 – Raleigh, NC – Pinhook
02/12 – Secret Georgia
02/13 – Gainesville, FL – The Atlantic
02/14 – Atlanta, GA – The Earl
02/15 – Nashville, TN – The Cobra
02/16 – Chicago, IL – The Empty Bottle
02/17 – Detroit, MI – UFO Factory
02/18 – Columbus, OH – Ace of Cups
02/19 – Harrisonburg, VA – Golden Pony
02/20 – Philadephia, PA – Baird Mansion Atrium
02/21 – Brooklyn, NY – The Park Church Co-Op
Image: Wolfgang Daniel