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Interview with Pleasure Curses

- by Dawn Reed

Deli: How did the band start?
Jahn Alexander (vocals/visuals/bass/guitar/synths): I had been touring around northern England playing in a band. Once I moved back stateside I was on my own and started compiling all these demos on my laptop. I had known Evan from a summer camp we had attended since we were 10-11 year olds and eventually formed a band of his own. Then a decade later we were both at this point where we were no longer involved in our respective groups and were getting into self-producing and using synthesizers as part of our songwriting and we started trading material. Once we were closer geographically, it started making sense to try working together and it was like our friendship picked up right where it had left off.


What's the story behind the band name?
Jahn: There's a pretentious answer, a crude answer and a funny answer. The short answer is that I like the balance between positive and negative that the name invokes while alluding to Gary Numan's 'Pleasure Principle' and Joy Division's 'Unknown Pleasures' as well as the idea of yelling out an expletive when something is really good to the senses.

What are your biggest musical influences?
It runs the gamut between old school hip hop and bossa nova to new wave post-punk and electro. We like paying small tributes to the artists we love to listen to without becoming a time capsule and dating or labeling ourselves into a corner.

Jahn: Bauhaus, LCD Soundsystem, Elvis Costello, The Clash, David Bowie

Evan Maxwell (synth/beats/programming/bass/guitar/percussion): New Order, J Dilla, Suicide, Velvet Underground, Jonti

What artists (local, national and/or international) are you currently listening to?
Evan: Gold Panda, Shlohmo, Dan Deacon, Crystal Castles
Jahn: I've been listening to Divine Fits and St. Vincent's new records. Late Of The Pier and Everything Everything are probably two of my favorite contemporary bands from England that don't seem to get as much attention as they should. Locally, we've befriended Mirror Kisses and Lenorable as well as a guy from NY who releases music under the name TSTI.

What's the first concert that you ever attended and first album that you ever bought?
Jahn: One of my first concerts was seeing the Misfits at the end of their Halloween tour. Stood next to the left PA the whole show and was deaf for an hour afterwards. I was given an LP of London Calling by the Clash by my favorite social studies teacher and would read the liner notes over and over.

Evan: James Brown with my Dad. No idea what my first album was but probably something awful.

What do you love about DC's music scene?
Jahn: To be honest, I have a rather vague sense of the scene here since I've been living in Europe for about 4 years and gigging around there. last time I lived in the area I was too young to drink or go to shows that weren't all ages so coming back is a completely different dynamic. I have seen a lot of overseas bands worship DC for the 'scene' that is is known for with punk bands in the 80's but they seem to mistake that for an aggressive fan base rather than a collective of musicians who support one another. With the internet being so widespread, I'm not sure location will matter as nearly as much as it used to. We're a product of that in a way.

Evan: I like the inclusiveness of a lot of it. It would be nice to be a bigger part of it.

What was your most memorable live show?
Jahn: In my last band we played a festival with Blondie and Echo & The Bunnymen so I got to see them from behind the stage.

Evan: When I was 15 I was in a band that got a show at a weird punk party at a farm. So we were these kids being dropped off by our parents to perform in a run down barn in rural Virginia with all these older hardcore guys wondering what we were doing there. At the end, the guy who owned the place came up to us and said, "there's a ska band slotted next month I think you guys'd match well with"

Is there a piece of equipment you couldn't live without and why?
Jahn:  It'd be hard to sing without vocal cords. I also do all the artwork for the band so my laptop is usually close at hand to put down whatever fleeting idea comes my way. Mine gets so overwhelmed that its a bit like a first car where only I know how to jiggle the ignition and hit it a certain way in order for it to start. That being said, I worked for a long time with a tape recorder and a notebook and could always go back to that if I needed to.

Evan: Casio sk-5 sampler keyboard, because its the easiest way to just get ideas and have fun making sounds/music. It is strange going from a bass+guitar+drums format to working with midi and programming. Technology has a tendency to fail at the worst possible time but there are only two of us with so many hands so things could get dicey.

Is there someone who has helped your band grow through support?
We have a lot of friends and family who are nice enough to support us and through the internet we seem to be finding new nice and supportive people daily.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?
We just put out our debut EP called 'Stripes' and are planning and rehearsing to start playing shows and touring across the country. Since we're working with a bit of programming versus all live instruments, we want to make sure we can put on a good energetic live show without it being bad laptop DJ karaoke. We're also constantly working on new material to keep it interesting. That never really stops. Hopefully we wont either.

 

 

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Pleasure Curses
Stripes EP