Alex Richwine and Sam Kurlender, with some help from Nick Byers, sat down with hip-hop duo Armand Hammer the night of their Dec. 1 show at La Casa. We cover topics such as gentrification, new Earl Sweatshirt, and Armie Hammer. This is a one-in-a-kind video, seeing as no other video interview of the group exists online.
Lunch Cult played Earth House earlier this year on September 28 as part of a fall tour announcing the release of their new album, Let’s Hear It For Lunch Cult. The band consists of Angus Macdonald on guitar, Luke Macdonald on drums, and Jake Lichter on keyboard, percussion, and vocals. Let’s Hear It For Lunch Cult also features Lucy Hollier on viola and Will Salwen on bass and percussion.
Lunch Cult spoke with Aural Wes’ Allison Hsu (‘19) about touring and their new record:
AW: Tell us about your new record/your fall tour.
Luke Macdonald: Tour was a blast. Unknown sleeping arrangements every night, the gig economy, books on tape… Everyone should tour. You don’t even have to play music to tour, you could do comedy or “performance art”…People will book anything. We played music though, obviously. My favorite part of tour is going around and seeing friends we normally don’t get to see.
The record is out! on Spotify and all that so go listen. It’s short and sweet. We smoothened up our sound as well since the last album, so now your parents can listen too. It’s more pop oriented, melodic, lyrical. Some call it “young-adult contemporary”. We’ve been playing some of these songs for a few years now and have been aching to lay them down.
AW: Anything new in the works?
LM: A LOT!!!!! We’ve started planning an ambient electronic album, probably to be titled Piece Of Us. Half improv half composed. Ideally it will be good study music. It won’t be out in time for finals, but hopefully next semester’s midterms. I’m learning clarinet for another project called “Knights and Knaves” that we’re gonna start writing for soon. ALSO - this is very recent and its still in the works - but a minor label (can’t disclose whom yet) has expressed interest in putting out a compilation album. It’s gonna be called SIX COLD CUTS and it’ll be six of our old songs remastered, repackaged, and maybe with some bonus commentary stuff.
AW: How was your experience of playing at Wesleyan? Any other memorable tour experiences?
Jake Lichter: Playing at Wesleyan is always so fun. We played our first show outside of our hometown at Wesleyan in the Westco Cafe when Angus was a freshman, years before he joined the band. When he eventually joined on guitar, we spent two weeks writing and rehearsing material at Wesleyan partly during Angus’s senior week. Me and Luke both turned 21 a few days before graduation - I remember shotgunning a beer for the first time at midnight on my birthday on somebody’s front lawn. I think this past time playing was our fifth show at Wes. We thought it would feel different now that all three of us are long out of college, but everyone was so welcoming and the audience had so much energy that we felt very at home.
This was probably our most fun tour yet. It’s hard to explain exactly why. I felt like people were giving back the energy we were putting out on stage more than usual. After our show at Marlboro College (with Space Camp and Lahnah), someone unlocked a secret rock-climbing gym in the basement of the building we played in. There were about ten of us all having a good time, swinging and climbing, etc. when someone who nobody knew found their way into the space and was acting like a 7-year-old who ate too much candy. Nobody knew how to interact with them and they were revealing really weird shit about their life to anyone who would listen. Then a bunch of other people who were in charge of the space came in and were passive-aggressively trying to ask us to leave but nobody wanted to leave so we didn’t.
AW: Which songs are your favorite to play live?
Angus Macdonald: I like all the songs where I don’t have to play guitar and the guys let me play drums or keyboards or another instrument like that. I’m so bad at doing it so it is a very fun challenge for me.
There’s also a song on the album called Trachtatus that Jake wrote - it's new and it has fun chords and he lets me shred on it so that’s cool too.
AW: Describe your music-making process. What makes you want to make music?
JL: The majority of the songs on the new record came from seeds planted several years ago. I tend to have a lot of trouble with second-guessing material I write for Lunch Cult so in the past few years I have begun outsourcing the songwriting process to my slightly-younger self. I record melodies, chord progressions, funny lyrics, or song ideas as they come to me and then intentionally forget about them for several months. When I come back to them, I’m usually in a very different place in my life and they don’t feel like something I would write in the present moment. This is perfect for me because it’s essentially legal plagiarism. The songwriting process always happens so much more naturally for me when I’m not dealing with emotions I’m feeling in the present moment.
AW: Who are your major influences? And who do you aspire to be?
AM: I would like this opportunity to say I aspire to STOP getting emails from Wesleyan students looking for Wesleyan Sound Co Op equipment I am not the manager of the Sound Co Op. I hope that I use the phrase “Wesleyan Sound Co Op” enough in this interview to make this the first Google hit for “Wesleyan Sound Co Op” so anyone who searches for the Wesleyan Sound Co Op will know that they should NOT email me, Angus Macdonald, with their Wesleyan Sound Co Op queries.
For making this record, we listened to a lot of influences in the studio, primarily Steely Dan and Godsmack (or some other band like that i can’t remember). Jake's favorite album is Plantasia but I hate it so it cancels out. When Luke and I hang out now we always listen to Nina Simone, especially her covers of Yes and the Bee Gees.
AW: What are you listening to (currently)?
JL: Right at this very moment I’m listening to Switched on Bach by Wendy Carlos but it’s being drowned out by the sound of construction next door :(
Update: We met with the two people in charge of the construction next door. Though they have no legal obligation to compensate us for the past months of horribly loud jackhammering sounds that permeate our walls, they are considering our informal invoice for two full months’ rent (which would total $6000 (a measly sum for many property owners in New York City)).
Badabing first popped onto Wesleyan’s music scene during Halloweekend 2017 with a brand new batch of what they called “chuggy, surfy tunes baked fresh daily.” Their upbeat, ebullient collection of originals and covers grew over the course of the year, as they played more and more house shows across campus (all natives of New York City, the members of Badabing also played a private show in Manhattan over the summer and all contributed to the project Michelle). Back in March of last semester, I sat down with then-freshmen Jamee Lockard, Nick Catrambone, and Charlie Kilgore (Columbia Univ. ‘21) for a wholesome Usdan brunch. We discussed the upcoming release of their self-titled album, which, at long last (like this article) comes out on all platforms.
Aural Wes: You have a new EP coming out…
Nick Catrambone: We do! It’s like -- I don’t know what you’d call it. It’s like, seven songs.
AW: EP! Album? So how would you describe the vibe of the EP?
NC: Well, I think one thing that’s pretty cool about it is there are fast, intense, crazy songs and there are also kinda quieter songs -- a lot of the guitar chords are very jazzy, but it doesn’t really feel jazzy. There’s definitely a chugginess to it. It’s a sweet little album. Honestly, I think because we’re freshmen, there’s that naivete that goes into it.
AW: You’re a sweet little band.
NC: Yeah. Don’t quote me saying “naivete.” (laughs) But, yeah. Especially Jamee and Charlie, they’re just like sweet people. It definitely comes through in the music.
AW: At what point did you decide to make an album?
Charlie Kilgore: None of us [started] out with the intention of “yeah, this is what we’re gonna do.” (to Nick) You had recorded a couple things…
NC: Yeah, I think me, Charlie, and Jamee have all recorded like demo-y stuff, but it’s so different making something with two other people versus making something alone. I had no idea how to write drum parts or bass parts, so… (laughs) it’s helpful when there’s other people.
Jamee Lockard: I feel like we definitely wouldn’t be doing this if it wasn’t so convenient, having Red Feather on campus.
CK: Yeah, we recorded two songs in my room. One of the first times we all hung out, there was this very twee little song that me and Nick had been screwing around with, and we all decided to just throw together a demo in my room. And it sounded really good -- we were like, oh!
NC: (overlapping) This could be fun and sound really good.
CK: And it was also really nice outside. So we were recording, and there was a beautiful sunset… It was lush.
JL: It was one of those sunsets.
CK: That was the key. But yeah, it’s been really fun. And apart from playing drums and bass and guitar and all singing, we’ve also found other things in the [recording] process that we all enjoy doing.
NC: Yeah, I was never really into engineering or producing at all, and that’s totally something where I’m like, “this is so cool.”
CK: We’ll all hear different things, sometimes Jamee will do some one-off thing and I’ll be like, that’s the whole song. That’s what happened with “Bass Song.”
JL: It’s nice seeing the song grow. Since we’re a three piece set, there’s only so much you can do. But when we layer stuff on, like we can in a recording session, it’s nice hearing the take where you’re like, “that’s the one, that’s the one we’re keeping.”
AW: What’s it like putting together a band after just meeting each other?
JL: I met Nick, and then through Nick I met Charlie.
CK: Yeah, Nick was sorta the arbitrator.
JL: Social butterfly. (laughs)
CK: Yeah, really. In the first three days of school I kept seeing Nick everywhere. I could not seem to avoid him.
NC: I was following Charlie.
CK: I’d be in Usdan, he’d be right there. I’d be wandering around the Butts and he’d be there with a bunch of people. And then… I think one time he just he just heard me playing guitar in my room or something --
NC: Well you hit me up on Facebook, and then I saw your Bandcamp, and I was like, “oh my god, this kid makes really good music,” and then when I heard that Charlie plays drums, I was like, oh my god, like this kid is perfect! He has everything.
AW: You were like looking to recruit?
JL: (laughs) “I found the one.”
NC: And I had never heard Jamee play bass when I asked her to come jam with us, but I was like… well, one thing that Charlie said in the beginning which was smart was just that it’s all about the vibe. The vibe is everything, honestly.
NC: And… I like Jamee’s vibe.
JL: Thanks, Nick.
CK: Really glad we have your approval.
JL: Thanks. We were just chilling during the first week of school in the hallway in Westco. We were talking -- I don’t even remember what we were talking about. (gesturing to Nick) But he mentioned he played guitar, I mentioned I play bass, and you invited me to come jam with you guys, and I remember I was nervous because Katie Prael’s dad hyped [Charlie] up so much to me --
CK: He’s very… he exaggerates a lot.
JL: But then I ended up liking you guys, and like we said it’s all about the vibe, and I was like, yeah, I have the same philosophy about music. And at the end we were like, “Tropicalia?”
CK: No, that’s a fuckin’ terrible band name!
JL: And we were like, okay, but this is a band now. We’ll pick the name later.
NC: And then we picked Badabing.
CK: We didn’t really pick Badabing. We just couldn’t think of anything --
NC: It picked us.
JL: It picked us.
CK: Yeah, it came to us in a dream. No, it was just something -- you know, in your first couple weeks at college, you’re terrified and you don’t really know how to interact with people, and that was something I’d said a couple of times [in conversation]. Like, I had started saying it as a joke before I came to college and then when I came to college it kinda became a catchphrase accidentally.
AW: Like “bazinga”?
CK: Yeah, except less making me hate myself. So we’d been playing for a while and then we had a Red Feather session, and they were like, “okay, what are you guys called?” And we were like, “uhhhhh, yeah, let’s go with Badabing for now, that’s gonna be our placeholder name until we can think of something better.” And we’re still trying to think of something better.
JL: It kinda grew on us. I thought it was “buh-dabbing” at first. For a while. I was like “what’s a buh-dabbing?” (laughs)
AW: What’s it like being a freshman band? You’re kinda the only [all] freshmen band that performs at house shows on campus.
NC: It’s really awesome. One thing is the upperclassmen are so inclusive, and I feel like we’ve been taken under so many wings of various people. There’s all these people I really look up to and are inspirational to look at [and see] what I hope to achieve at Wesleyan in the music community. People who do Red Feather [Studio], WESU, who are in bands, who write the newspaper; [there are] all these people who do everything, and it’s like, ‘whoa. I need to do everything.’ And then -- the bands totally feed off each other in terms of style. There’s influence you can see from Barbara Shop and Flaccid Ashbacks. [They] make us want to rock out at more of our shows. Going into it, I didn’t really see us as a band [that would be] loud and fuckin, just, try to rock, and get people dancing and moving. I think that’s a thing [at Wes] -- you don’t see a lot of bands play quiet songs at shows. I don’t know, recently, it was super cool for us to see Goo open, because they’re a three-piece, and we’re a three-piece, and seeing what this group of seniors -- who are so much more talented -- seeing what they’re doing to make their three-piece more dynamic. We picked up so much from that. And finally, like, we’re competitive! All the bands are a little bit competitive, and when you go to a show and see these other bands fuckin kill it, you’re like, ‘fuck!’ Like fuck, we gotta go practice. I want to be as good as them. Everyone’s taking it so seriously.
JL: Yeah, it’s kinda fun! Our audience is mostly freshmen, so since we’re the only freshman band, people know who we are. It’s nice seeing so many people come. It’s nice having all that hype, I guess.
CK: It’s also nice to -- yeah, I don’t know! I’ve talked to friends of mine from high school who came to Wesleyan last year and none of them ever really mentioned, like, going to shows. So I feel like it’s nice to have the freshman contingent actually going to concerts. That’s really fun. But I don’t know, it’s also nice to feel like -- there have been a couple of bands who’ve referred to us as their baby brother band.
JL: Yeah. It’s really nice having older bands to look up to and being the only freshman band that gets their attention I guess. (all laugh) But I’m also excited to see what other freshmen do.
AW: What do you think is the future of the music scene in the freshman class?
JL: Ooh, I don’t know. There are so many talented musicians, but I honestly wouldn’t be able to guess who would collaborate with each other.
CK: I know there are -- I’ve just heard of like, a couple of people collaborating. I know there were sorta whispers of the whole Westco gang, like Franny [Flackett-Levin ‘21], Keizo [Fish ‘21], Jack [Kraus ‘21] doing stuff together. I don’t know, I’ve been playing a little with Keizo and Charlie Schine [‘20] which has been fun. I dunno.
JL: Are you doing bass on that or guitar?
CK: Bass. But… I don’t know if that’s the thing for me…
CK: I don’t know.
JL: You might not know this about Charlie, but he’s a very talented bassist. And piano player, and guitarist, and I’m probably forgetting an instrument. (laughs)
CK: Yeah, kazoo. I played jazz kazoo for eleven years.
JL: Music prodigy, a virtuoso. (all laugh)
CK: Good Morning Connecticut all had kazoos at their show, that was fucking crazy!
JL: Yeah, because at the program housing fair, Music House was passing out kazoos. So I think because Cal [Mirowitz ‘20] and Will [Jacobson ‘20] live there. Will had them, so they used them.
CK: I just want to be Cal Mirowitz when I grow up. That’d be so fuckin’ cool. He’s really hot as well. Definitely put that in the interview.
JL: Wait, what was the question? (laughs) Oh, freshman bands. It’s fun, yeah!
CK: It is fun. It also feels like… I don’t know.
JL: It’s fun having done so much in such a short period of time, because you can really look back and be like, wow, we just formed a few months ago and we’ve done--
CK: A lot.
JL: A bunch of shows, made an EP…
CK: (overlapping) We’ve recorded like, five songs out of seven and played, like, five shows.
JL: We have a bunch of songs that are written, we just haven’t gotten to recording or even performing. Like “Open A.”
CK: Yeah. We haven’t named any of our songs.
JL: Oh, we don’t name our songs! It’s really a problem. We have “New Original,” “Open A”...
CK: “Bass Song,” “Beach Song”...
JL: I think that might be the name. Or “Drive to the Beach.” “Jamee’s Song,” like, none of our songs have names!
CK: There was “F Song” which we played for a while, but we kinda retired “F Song.”
AW: And F is based on a chord?
CK: Yeah. It was the song that was in F.
JL: Usually we just do the key that it’s in.
AW: (laughs) “Open A”...
CK: Yeah, because that’s the only song that’s in a different tuning for guitar… As well as being a freshman band, I feel like we’re also the -- not in, like, how serious we are about the music, but just in terms of our vibe, I feel like we’re the most lighthearted band.
JL: Yeah, I feel like we’re very loosey-goosey, like chillax, have a good time, mosh if you want to…
CK: Yeah… since we’re also all freshmen it feels like, I dunno -- like, at the Goo show I was like, in awe, but I was like, here are all these cool upperclassmen dancing and I don’t want to get in the way of their shit.
JL: I think our name also reflects our vibe -- “Badabing.”
AW: Rolls off the tongue.
CK: We just make silly, fun music.
JL: Yeah. We’re also collectively silly people, just doing silly things.
If you want more from Badabing, their debut album is out now on all streaming platforms.
Declan Moy-Bishow’s (‘19) music is straight out of a late 1950s Florida nightclub. With shiny guitar licks, Buddy-Holly-Harmonies, and those funny little intermediary song sections where the singer speaks directly to the listener, this is classic surf-rock, but with a modern, grungey, East-Coast twist. This is Ace & The Gulls latest album, GET IT OUT.
Declan, who is an all-around crazily creative person (he’s an illustrator for Lucid Color, and created the album’s wild cover, and though he plays drums for A&G, can also get on the guitar, keyboard, and air organ,) formed the band in his Freshman year at Beacon High School, Queens.
Declan: Right before a high-school Battle of the Bands we decided to name ourselves Ace & The Gulls. It was between that and The French Guyana, and the Lonely Geisha. My mom wouldn’t let me do that one. We were called ‘The Gulls" for a long time. Over the years there have been 6 members, but now it’s boiled down to 3. Andy on guitar, Declan, me, on drums, and Matt on the bass. Andy and myself do vocals. And sometimes Matt, kinda like Y in the alphabet.
Aural Wes: where’d the Ace come from?
D: Matt had a bass strap with a bunch of playing cards on it, and I said, “you can’t wear that.” So we started calling him Ace. We used to be really strict about performing. We would only wear white button down shirts, jeans, and play fender guitars. I suppose we loosened up. Later on, we’d play with my dad’s old band. He plays the drums, like me, or I like him. They had this reunion in my senior year, and we played a couple shows. It was bizarre.
AW: What’s your dad’s band?
D: They’re called The Mosquitoes. Their sound definitely influenced us. They were into Early Beatles stuff.
You can clearly hear those early rock n’ roll influences in GET IT OUT, but on second listen, there’s also a clear nod to 90s and early-2000s grunge, and A&G’s lyricism strives for more than anything on albums like Twist & Shout. Take the fourth song on GET IT OUT, "Love a Girl". From the title to the jingly upbeat guitar and shaker, as well as the fun dancey lyrics (feels like I’m dancing/I wanna stand still/but I can’t ever with you,) this song could just be 50s esque cover. But halfway through the song (which are all around 2 minutes, in classic early vinyl LP fashion,) the minor power chords get a little heavier, the lead a little more ghostlike, and the lyrics much darker: "kill, me, now/right now/surfing on weeknights/I’m watching their lives/and I can’t figure it out at all." But then it jumps right back into a poppy rhyme: "when I’m in the clouds/you bring me down now." The incongruities between innocence and alienation are starkly juxtaposed, with just one line between “kill, me, now” and “surfing on weeknights,” perhaps in an effort to show how close the two feelings really are, like the inseparable mega-highs and torturous lows of an adolescent crush.
This isn’t to say that GET IT OUT is trying to be all commentary. Songs like Do the Gull and She’s So Cool are fun, bouncy, and consciously not serious. During She’s So Cool’s final repeated choruses, we hear, “she plays laser tag… she’s from Staten Island… she let me hold her pet snake.”
My favorite tune is definitely "Ten O’ Nine," with its folky, Simon & Garfunkel feel and rising harmonies. The lyrics aren’t complicated, and they don’t seem to be about anything in particular, but they excellently convey the feeling of a day idly passing out of your hands, some strange melancholy stuck in your head like a catchy song, just staring out the window. And I love its sad final lines: nice guy/he said goodbye/he messed me up, he messed me up, he messed me up.
AW: Why’s it called GET IT OUT?
D: Because we had to get an album out. Or it might be because of all that kooky stuff in your brain, and you gotta get it out. Isn’t that how it works?
AW: and the album artwork, what’s that all about?
D: It’s influenced by Yuichi Yokoyama. Yuichi taught me everything. The two guys wearing sunglasses are me and Andy, and then the chopstick walking clowns are maybe the ideal Ace & The Gulls. Are we looking over there, or to the future?
AW: does A&G have plans for the future?
D: I have no. Make some more songs. Tour, with our parents.
Declan is playing an acoustic set at Outhouse on Friday February 23rd, 7-8pm. He’ll be playing some songs from GET IT OUT, as well as some other cool tunes too.
- Ezra Kohn '19
Aural Wes contributors Kelsey Gordon and Meg West interviewed Sorority Noise about emo music, the creation of Joy, Departed, and midnight munchies before their show at Eclectic February 12, 2016. Video by Lola Sounigo of Method TV Music from "Joy, Departed" by Sorority Noise. Topshelf RecordsRead More
Aurora McGunkin and Meg West sat down with Slouch to discuss the band's rise in popularity and plans for the future, and the importance of representation within the music scene at Wesleyan. All photos courtesy of Monica Sun.Read More
Jaime de Venecia ('15) is a songwriter, DJ, and producer of ethereal jams. On stage and Soundcloud, he goes by jdv plus. His senior recital is Sunday 4/12 at 7 PM in the World Music Hall. He'll be debuting an entire album of new music titled empty_mirror. Miles McLeod sat down with Jaime to talk about old music, new music, metaphysics, the self, and Bossa Nova.Read More
Overcoats is the only thing Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell want to do. All day, every day, they tell me. Sitting in Hana’s sunny bedroom, I’m chatting with her and JJ about Overcoats, their electro soul-folk project. Hana’s bed—“our bed,” as the two of them describe it—is where Overcoats happens. It’s where Hana and JJ (both class of 2015) write their songs, merging artistic visions that come from different places but always end up in the same place. They joke that they’re literally merging as people, sometimes unable to distinguish one’s voice from the other in their songs. What comes of this, they tell me, is a musical project with coherence and sound that neither of them have attained before, and they’re really excited about it. Their excitement certainly isn’t misplaced.Read More
Zander Porter sat down with Mitski at Earth House's neighboring Shapiro Creative Writing Center ("SCWC") to chat with the musician about her new record, Bury Me at Makeout Creek, as well as Björk, "love and death," and extreme sadness.Read More
Boston post-hardcore grunge rockers Pile played an explosive set at Eclectic House on Friday night, careening through songs from all corners of their extensive catalog. Accompanied by their Boston noise-rock buddies Kal Marks, Pile's innovative grunge rock never sat still for long, turning on a dime from sparse moments of guitar-plucking intimacy to stadium-scale explosions of ragged, angular power chords. Songs from their upcoming LP You're Better Than This popped up throughout the night, distinct from the rest of the set in their unprecedented dissonance and experimental composition.Read More
The morning after their raucous show at Eclectic, Aural Wes's Chris Gortmaker headed to O'Rourke's Diner for brunch with the Harlem hip-hop group Ratking. Over a veritable mountain of brunch-foods, discussion ranged from Ratking's creative process to Pangaea and dinosaurs. A little known link between Aphex Twin and Cheef Keef emerged. Chris never got the toast he ordered...Read More