Sunday, May 3, 2009

Slug Magazine

We recently got interviewed by SLUG Magazine. It turned out pretty cool. Check it out:

Photo: Chris Swainston

Nick Foster – drums, singing, keyboard
Tim Myers –singing, guitar, keyboards,

I was immediately struck by the cover art of Palace of Buddies’ CD. The album’s front shows a garish birthday cake made sinister by shadowy horror-movie lighting. The Salt Lake music scene nearly lost Palace of Buddies to fire during the shoot for the album art. “We thought we had sparkling candles,” the two say, “but instead these candles shot flames.” The back of the album offers the listener a view of POB’s equipment, a Charydis of keyboards, drums and wires that bring to mind nightmares of moving day. Far easier just to burn everything than take it carefully apart.

A willingness to navigate through the hazards of making art is a central tenet of POB’s approach to music. Foster, who has a degree in Music Composition from the University of Utah, discussed works of Milton Babbit, Luciano Berio and Paul Lansky––who he discovered through his studies. Part of what compels Foster about these composers is the novelty of what they were doing. “They wrote pieces that combined traditional symphonic instruments with newer electronic instruments at a time when there were no set rules to follow,” says Foster. The results were experimental, by definition.

This struggle to produce the new, first by hearing it and then by rigging it into reality, is very much a part of the POB experience. Myers says he creates ideas in his head and then develops “oblique strategies” to turn them into fully developed songs. They adopt this phrase from Brian Eno, whose albums Another Green World and Before and After Science are crucial listening for them. Both Foster and Myers mention the various pros and cons of being a two-piece band. There are only so many hands and feet to go around. Yet at a time when it has become increasingly acceptable for even respected bands to play prerecorded music during shows, POB is clear about its commitment to perform their music live. “We needed to relearn to play our instruments,” says Myers. He and Foster switch gear not only between, but also during songs, one playing the bass part for verses, for example, and the other picking up the bass part for the chorus.

What’s remarkable about POB, though, is the band’s ability to produce a fully integrated sound. For all their mad-scientist scrambling with respect to ideas, equipment and sound, Myers and Foster feel like a genuine band, not just a couple of geeks with too much equipment. This is probably because the two have played together since junior high school. Having passed through the ranks of various rock and metal bands, POB has finally reduced its sound to a neat blend of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn, the lush chords of early, experimental Genesis (Foster admires the drumming of the young Phil Collins), and the rag-and-bone clatter of Tom Waits.

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