We have a robust amount of data for you about NY’s Takka Takka, an interview and listening party. Primary sources all provided by vocalist Gabe Levine….
BYT: Hi Gabe.
BYT: Great! Well, I guess I just have some questions for you.
Gabe: Questions? Well maybe I have some questions for you!
BYT: Actually, you’re the absolute first person I’ve ever interviewed for Brightest Young Things, so…
Gabe: Well, I’ll try to make this as painful as possible.
BYT: Actually, I was hoping to only ask you questions that came in ten word bursts, so that I wouldn’t have to transcribe too much.
Gabe: Ha. Well, I’ll see what I can do.
BYT: Let’s get started: how would you compare where you are as a band, with your sound and everything, to where you were a year ago or where you were when We Feel Safer at Night came out?
Gabe: We are completely different band then we were a year ago, two years, three years, however long we’ve been around. We have a whole new lineup, new people; I’ve just been approaching everything really differently, everything from the songwriting to the performing. Yeah, we’re just really in a different space then we were back then.
BYT: What is the future of DIY music? I know that you’re first album was self-released, and now you’re with Ernest Jenning…
Gabe: I don’t know. I think the music industry is so fucked in general, I just don’t know. Every band and every artist is just in such a different situation, so its hard – I mean, DIY is great when you can make money playing shows or licensing or whatever. Having the resources of the label can be really useful. The label we have, they’ve been great to us, and starting out, its been really different then I thought it would be. Each situation is just so different, its really case-by-case. Honestly, I still do a lot of my stuff myself, like I think that most bands even with labels are doing a lot of stuff DIY, and a lot of bands that are DIY are not as do it yourself as bands that have some support from the label. I think that indie at its roots is all about doing it yourself and that will definitely still be there.
And that was a lot more than ten words.
BYT: Are you excited to be back down in DC?
Gabe: Oh yeah; actually, the Black Cat shows that we play, with few exceptions are always the best shows we do. I mean, they’re so nice down there in that venue, especially in the little room – the backstage – it just has a really good feeling that sometimes its hard to find with venues. And hey, they give you food too. Most places don’t give a fuck about treating you well! But they’re nice.
BYT: Every time I read a new review of you guys, they are comparing you to somebody different: Peter Gabriel, Velvet Underground, Pavement, Vampire Weekend. What do you think of all these comparisons, and do you think that it fits your sound and what you want to do?
Gabe: Well, everyone needs to need some kind of reference point or touchstone to understand a band. Obviously as a listener – I’ve listened to a lot of bands in my young life – its really easy for me to just slap a label on a band: “Recommended if you like (list of other artists).” But I don’t know – some of them are good; I’ll take a Peter Gabriel, he was such a force in my young life, So was such a important record for me growing up. But it’s a little silly requirement, the shorthand of the industry. In al ot of ways its really limiting. I’d like to think that, even listening to what we’ve listened to, we’ve gone in what I think is our own direction, towards finding our own voice. It’s really hard to find your own voice, it takes artists a long time to find that voice. And it doesn’t make it easier any easier when people are constantly comparing you to others, you know?
When we started recording the record, there were definitely on the production side we would tease out the moments we liked in other bands – maybe the guitar sound or the drums. One I really liked was on Silence, we really tried to bring in a little Thriller feel. So we definitely were influenced on the production side.
BYT: Talk about Silence a little more. What the hell is going on in that song?
Gabe: Oh I don’t know – we have the Thriller thing, and that long guitar solo, with the weird overlapping Steve Reich sound? We like to call that the future guitar solo, because in the future that’s how all guitar solos are going to sound.
BYT: So, am I missing out on the next big thing when I’m not listening to Balinese Gamelan music?
Gabe: Haha, yeah, you really are. I love Gamelan. Next time a Gamelan troop comes through – and they do you know, I saw one up here earlier in the year – you should definitely check it out.
BYT: So what can we expect from your show? This time give me ten words or less.
Gabe: Hilarity ensuing. Well, we’re very different live then we are on the record, for better or worse. People say we bring lots of energy, so lots of that. And expect a lot of drunkeness.
And now… The Listening Party:
“Monkey Forest Road” — Towards the end of recording this album, as I
was doing over dubs, I got really sick and was basically in the middle
of some weird fever dream when I sat down and recorded the vocals and
keys for this song. The lyrics and recorded vocals are exactly what
came out of my head in that feverish state. Sean (our producer) and I
had to edit out the more nonsensical lines about monkeys and lizards
and random stuff. When we were sequencing the record, we had one order
of the songs with this as the first track and we called the “fuck you”
sequence. That’s what we went with. Monkey Forest Road is a road that
leads into my mom’s village, Pengosekan, in Bali. Bryan Devendorf came
in and did most of the awesome electronic drums in the 2nd half of the
song. The percussion adds the narrative to the song, I think.
“Silence” — This was one of the first songs we wrote for the record.
It evolved from an acoustic guitar extended percussion jam into
whatever it is now. It’s probably the song we spent the most time
working and re-working. We spent forever trying to figure out the best
way for me to sing this song and the guitars in the verses. The vocals
are layers of 4 vocal tracks all put through this delay called the Ursa
Minor Space Station which does something to them to make them sound
like one weird vocal take. And we decided to go with Thriller-esque
guitar sound for the verses. So not indie rock.
“Everybody Say” — This song we wrote together as a 5-pc band during
our many many rehearsals. It stayed pretty much the same from writing
to recording and is definitely one of my favorites to play in our live
“Homebreaker” — This song started as a song writing experiment. I
wanted to see what it would be like to create a song structure on top
of layers of percussion and guitars. This song was probably the one
that we argued over the most as no one really could see where it was
going or what the hell it was until the very end of the process after
we overdubed some guitars and vocals to give the song some shape and
form. This was the song where that almost ended the whole recording
process and the band. It’s one of my favorites on the record. Go
Check out Takka Takka tonight at the Black Cat.