Buildings: We black out at shows; that's when it's really good

Courtesy of the Artist

Buildings wants you to know that it doesn't matter. They prefer not to over-think things, and would encourage you to do the same.

The band is making a departure from their previous sound with It Doesn't Matter, being debuted at tonight's EP release show at Icehouse. "We didn't talk about it," drummer Travis Kuhlman says of their newfound, more straightforward approach. "We just did it. We got sick of doing the old shit that we did."

Buildings: We black out at shows; that's when it's really good

The EP opens with "...Because It Doesn't Matter." Vocalist Brian Lake snarls out the lyrics with a scorn and vitriol reminiscent of a young, disgusted Kurt Cobain [or David Yow]. The song reads like a casual fuck you, a flick of the wrist. There is a certain element of grunge, yet the math-tinged calculation of earlier Buildings music remains. It is a quick, violent burst of noise carried by Joe Clark's dark driving bassline.

Clark is the most recent member to join the band. It took ten years after meeting Lake for Clark to finally decide to become a part of Buildings. "I was like well, I'm really bored with my life, and I have no friends anymore, so I'm gonna play bass in a band," he explains. "I just asked and they said yes."

The whole "it doesn't matter" theme of the album is a running joke between bandmates that began with Kuhlman's roommate remarking, "Dude, it doesn't matter. Whatever you do, it doesn't matter. Why are you doing this? Oh, it doesn't matter." They have adopted the phrase as their mantra.

The music video released this week for "...Because It Doesn't Matter" is the epitome of this concept. Directed by Clark, the video depicts Lake as a sort of campy game show host or lounge singer, making graphic gestures with the microphone stand as he sings, then being joined before the garishly patterned curtain by scantily clad women dancing with hula hoops. Kuhlman, unrecognizable behind a thick layer of clown makeup, fails miserably at creating balloon animals so instead feigns hanging himself with the balloons. The spectacle ends in a drunken haze.

"Everyone that I live with got sick because of how much fun we had filming that," says Kuhlman. "We just got sick. We were hammered at noon, filming. The only way I could be a clown on film was to be drunk."

"I had three shots before we started filming. Three shots and like, eight Oreos," Lake adds. "I was good to go."

The second track on the EP, "Gold," is irresistibly catchy. Lake refers to the entire song as one big hook, and Kuhlman calls it the most straightforward song they've ever written. The chord progression throughout the verses is somewhat unnerving, almost off in a way. "Leave everyone you have loved behind...You look so pretty now..." Lake admonishes the listener.

"Gold" is the uncle of a friend of Lake's, who committed suicide. "He was a bastard," Lake says. "He was an asshole. The song is about how you feel sorry for someone when they're dead, but when they were alive you couldn't stand the fucking sight of them."


Buildings: We black out at shows; that's when it's really good

"Gold" isn't the only song on the album addressing death. "Water Shed" was inspired by an episode of Dexter. As Lake was writing the lyrics, he had an image in his head of a moment at the finale of season two of Dexter. "It's a song about taking someone to the water shed and murdering them. Like, dragging their body into the water shed."

"Sometimes it's not as goofy and dumb as '...It Doesn't Matter,'" Clark says.

Lake is responsible for writing all of the lyrics. "I could write a song about jerking off," he says. "I could write a song about hating my ex-girlfriend. I could write a song about murdering someone...whatever floats my boat at the time."

The simplistic structure of these new songs opens the door for more involved performances. "It's so much fun to get up there and play a song where when you know that one part is coming, you can just go crazy with it, whip around, and not have to worry about hitting 14 different pedals," Lake says. While writing songs, he attempts to envision people in a hypothetical audience reacting to the music. "We want people not to just stand there, tapping their foot," he says. "We want them to feel it like we feel it when we're writing it, getting as angry or wild as we like to do when we play it."

Buildings: We black out at shows; that's when it's really good

Buildings bring a lot of aggression to their shows. "When we play it, it's a lot different than it sounds like to me on the album," says Kuhlman. "It's a lot angrier. Every time I play drums, at shows especially, I feel the anger. Afterwards I usually need like 15 minutes to not be around anybody."

"We black out at shows," says Lake. "That's when it's really good."

The difference in construction and more formulaic approach to songwriting on this EP are symbolic of the easy chemistry between the three musicians and old friends. "It's kind of like we finally figured out how to do it, whatever it is," says Kuhlman of their process. Lake agrees. "We finally figured out how to be in a band after all this time."

Buildings plays their album release show tonight at Icehouse with Porcupine at 9 PM. 21+, $6

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