“If we’re able to implement as many embellishments and lies into this interview as possible, just as long as we don’t look totally horrible, I’m way okay with that,” says Seawhores’ Adam Marx, then after a quick pause: “What do you think about that, Bruno Mars? He’s in the studio with me.”
His bandmates, Cody Weigel and Charles Gehr, cackle. We’re on a four-way conference call courtesy of Google Voice technology, which feels like it’s either the best idea I’ve had in a long time or the biggest mistake. Interviewing the members of Seawhores this way is a guaranteed exercise in everything the band is: part noise-aggression art project, part anarchist prank, all serious music by people who don’t take themselves too seriously.
Chopping through the lies and the stories is all part of the package with Seawhores. They may or may not have egged Glenn Danzig’s house. Gehr may or may not be related to Steve Buscemi and a witch burned in Salem. Weigel may be the evil mastermind playing Gehr and Marx like puppets. Even the first band photo they submit isn’t them, it’s what Marx calls “Some asshole, a Kardashian, and Alf.” In a scene where most of the challenging music is masterminded by surly art nerds covering up predispositions to social awkwardness, Seawhores slide in like a smooth talking sociopath who might break your heart while making you laugh or just skin you alive. They’re brutally loud and intense in a way designed to either alienate or suck you in, or in their best scenario, both at the same time. They’re also one of the most enduring bands in the Twin Cities, although they’ve never been a band that aspired to the classic rock and roll notion of “making it.” It’s simply not part of their aesthetic.
Started 21 years ago when Marx and Weigel were still in high school, the band has made a sport of breaking traditional notions of how rock and roll works. They piled Marx’s basement full of amps, thrift store electronics, old computers, black lights, and weed. “We didn’t know how to program a drum machine, so all our beats were Casio presets,” says Weigel. “We thought of it more as a movement,” adds Marx, incorporating influences like John Zorn and a long history of underground aggressive music, into a no-rules style that’s all their own. “It’s whatever we want it to be, with whoever we want it to be, anything’s possible,” says Marx.
“Anything’s possible” means, in addition to releasing records on labels, the band has spent two decades putting out video podcasts, playing non-traditional show setups, screwing with audience members’ heads, and collaborating with a whole host of peers. At one point, their drummer was a pre-recorded video of the Melvins’ Dale Crover playing on TV sets behind them. Bringing in Gehr on drums a few years ago, however, opened up a whole new era for them.
“I was humbled to be asked to play,” says Gehr. “Seawhores had such a long history and what they were doing was great, so I was glad to be a part of it.”
“It’s a lot more stable with Charles,” adds Weigel (unless it was Marx, these guys are constantly misidentifying themselves in the interview). Adding a third songwriter has made the band’s writing process even more organic and natural—but still confrontational and abrasive. And they don’t care. “It’s fun to pound the music into the audience and still captivate them at the same time,” says Gehr.
“It’s always fun to read bad reviews,” says Marx. “I can’t imagine being in a band where you have to answer ads out of the paper in order to feel like you’re part of something cool that you believe in. You’re out of your mind if you think you’re going to pay rent off this, so you might as well have fun with this.”
With: Burn Fetish, Wretch, Morf
Where: 7th St. Entry
When: 7 p.m. Sun. Aug. 20
Tickets: $5; more info here