'With Marriages in particular, I have no idea what genre we are. The only thing I have to say for our band is that I'm glad to be part of something that feels like it doesn't have a home anywhere'
If there’s one sin we music journalists are all too guilty of committing, it’s rubber-stamping genre labels all over artists the second we hear them; it’s like we’re driven to codify. Shoegaze and metal and noise, oh my … god, shut up.
When we’re not muddying the true intent of groups by plastering buzzwords from the unofficial music snob lexicon all over them, many of us scoff at the idea that a band would be so brazen as to bill its sound as “uncategorizable.” C’mon. You’ve gotta be something we can recognize, right?! And we wonder why so many musicians bristle at being branded as one genre or another.
Loud, fluid and eerie, Los Angeles trio Marriages’ debut album “Salome” shines, thanks in no small part to singer/guitarist Emma Ruth Rundle, also of Red Sparowes and Nocturnes, as well as a solo musician and visual artist. In June, Philadelphia foursome Creepoid released “Cemetery Highrise Slum,” a record that jangles and sways through a wash of reverb made possible in part by guitarist Nicholas Kulp. Make of these descriptors what you will.
Creepoid, along with local acts Rawrr! and Shekinah, open for headliner Marriages, at Launchpad (618 Central SW) on Sunday, Aug. 9. Doors to the (13+) plus show swing wide at 7 p.m., and the music starts at 7:30 p.m.
Emma Ruth Rundle and Nicholas Kulp each spoke by phone with ABQ Free Press about new releases, the pleasures of fog machines and the names their bands get called by people like me.
Us: How’s this tour going? How’s working with Creepoid?
Rundle: It’s been a rough week for [Marriages]. It’s the start to a tour. The drives have been really long, and we haven’t been eating or sleeping very much, so all of us are a little out of it. I’m also the last person who’s able to put on a happy face. I’m the first person to get grumpy.
Creepoid is great. We’ve only played a few shows with them. They’re cool. We all get along. That’s a critical thing when you’re on tour with somebody; it’s more about the personalities. The music’s great too, though. I especially enjoy watching [Creepoid member Emma Troxell] play bass. And we both use lots of fog while playing! (laughs)
Us: Marriages’ new album, “Salome,” has such a sprawling oceanic feel. Tell me more about it.
Her: The songs were written over a long period of time. It wasn’t the kind of situation where we were all together in a magical cabin somewhere and committed to a concept. If anything, there was a concerted effort, it was to make an album that had songs, versus our EP “Kitsune,” where it seemed to be one long composition.
Us: You’re performing here in Albuquerque with Marriages in August, then here again solo – opening for French artist Alcest – three months to the day later, in October. What challenges do you face splitting your time between Marriages and your solo work?
Her: I’m pretty tired, but I feel very grateful. I never thought I would have so many opportunities to pursue all of these projects. I was used to my creative projects being done in secret, in my personal space. Now it’s turned inside out. I’ve been out in the world a lot. It is different live with Marriages than it is with solo. With the solo stuff I can take liberties, put my heart into it based on the way I’m feeling that day.
Us: You lived and worked in Los Angeles for a while. How would you say the cultural landscape of LA shaped your aesthetics?
I’m going to be honest with you, because I’m really tired and I don’t have the energy to pretend like shit is cool: I think LA is fucked up. There isn’t a supportive community doing creative things together. These are things that just didn’t exist for me in LA.
Her: Los Angeles is not a friendly place. There’s a lot more competition than there is support. I mean, there are some things about it that are awesome. All the bands on [Marriages’ label] Sargent House are a community that exists there, one that I appreciate. But overall, LA is just vapid. I was happy to get out of there.
Us: You moved to Portland, right?
Her: Yeah, but that meant moving a couple of boxes into a room that I spent all of four weeks in so far. I’m not really sure where I’m going to go after this, though. I don’t know that I’m going to go back to Portland.
Us: I see groups like yours continue to help foster exciting new dimensions for metal, in part because of how much that genre has blossomed from its origins. What are your thoughts on this?
Metal in general is probably the most specific and particular trickle-down from what it originally was. People used to call Black Sabbath metal, and now we would never think of it like that. I think it’s a great thing for music to sort of spin out into all these other genres.
Her: With Marriages in particular, I have no idea what genre we are. The only thing I have to say for our band is that I’m glad to be part of something that feels like it doesn’t have a home anywhere. But sometimes I do think it’s hard for our success because it’s hard to pigeonhole us.
Creepoid’s Nicholas Kulp Doesn’t Care What You Call It
Us: I like Creepoid’s new album, “Cemetery Highrise Slum.” What was it like to work with producer Peter Mavrogeorgis? He’s also worked with artists like Grinderman, The National and Sharon Van Etten.
Kulp: The experience was great. It was interesting to work with somebody who did things with different recording techniques that we hadn’t been subjected to.
Us: How different was it – working with Mavrogeorgis at Dollhouse Studios in Savannah – versus working in your hometown of Philadelphia?
Him: Philadelphia’s fast-paced, so Savannah was way more of a relaxed environment. There was also a sense of being comfortable, as well. It was a little bit different than the urgency would have been if we were recording in Philadelphia.
Us: The music press often describes Creepoid as shoegaze. Does that sound accurate to you?
Him: It’s definitely incorrect. We’re Creepoid. That’s who we are. You can call us whatever you want, but that’s not what it actually is. Just because people describe you in certain ways doesn’t mean that’s what you are.
— By M. Brianna Stallings
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