Fresh off of a five-week tour of the UK and Europe, These Are Powers singer and guitarist Anna Barie relaxes with the band in their Chicago attic space by watching a dog show on TV with the sound off and the new TV on the Radio album booming.
Sounding more like an artist than a musician, Barie explains why she and her band mates initially described their band as ghost punk. “We created ‘ghost punk’ because we wanted to create something like a situationist movement, where we say what we are and then creatively dismiss it.”
After two eerie albums full of big, heavy, droning songs, the band has followed through on that promise. Their third album, “All Aboard Future,” is ghost punk grown up. The music is still creepy, but songs are more spacious, with precise, digital beats and more comprehensible vocals. It’s more club, less thrash.
Gigantic threads of apocalyptic noise have been swapped for clearly defined verses and dancier beats. There is a bigger emphasis on production, inspired by Jay-Z, the Neptunes, and Timbaland. “I listen to mainstream radio rap all the time,” says Bill Salas, the band’s drummer. “Music that bumps as hard as that does, using only three sounds and one beat. It’s impressive.”
The Brooklyn- and Chicago-based band may be polishing their approach, but the way they make music is the same. They don’t discuss what key they’re playing in, and live performances vary depending on vocal cues or drum cues. “I think we are a straight-up punk band,” says Barie. “We’re doing it the way we know how, and not the way anyone tells us to do it. That’s punk, and anyone can do it.”
“At one show, about 10 people fell on my pedals because of one aggressive dude in the audience,” says bassist Pat Noecker. “Our music can drive people happily insane sometimes.” Barie explains the band’s ethos more clearly. “It’s a little creepy and disconcerting, but it has a sense of humor.”
(As appeared in the February 2009 issue of Dazed & Confused magazine)