I’m listening to Seattle doom-metal duo Bell Witch’s advance promo from Profound Lore Records for their latest emotional sonic wallop Mirror Reaper, juxtaposed with a loud choir of crickets singing through my open window on a cool Kingston Monday night. I am decompressing after a very busy weekend that included witnessing an entire Star Wars-themed wedding parade about Uptown Kingston’s streets waving plastic lightsabers (never a dull moment in this city, for real) and seeing Kingston’s own groove metallers Clover rock a Beacon show with poetic and gothic Salt Lake City band SubRosa. Tonight I am just thankful to be alive despite having problems like anyone else and feeling a sadness settling upon me at the state of the world and communication. So it’s the perfect time to cheer myself a bit writing about some of the good energy attached to this year’s O+ Festival, the region’s main-event health/wellness, music and arts annual gathering.
Let me, then, put down my still scarcely cracked copy of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame and come back, semi-begrudgingly, to this century. This week I am going to focus on one of my favorite local bands on this year’s O+ Festival agenda. I always like to count down to O+ each year with an article or two and so in the next few weeks leading up to early October you can probably also expect a glance at a national band as well. The full festival schedule and roster has been posted on the O+ Festival Facebook page and some up-and-comer named Amanda Palmer has been added to the Friday, Oct. 6 festivities (obvious sarcasm as Amanda is already the stuff of legend).
“After a bunch of years, O+ finally let us on the roster,” says Jay Andersen of space-grunge trio Surmiser. “A case of patience paying off? Who knows. Maybe greasing the squeaky wheel? Who cares. On Oct. 6 at the 721 Media Center at 9 p.m., Surmiser will be kicking off an energetic aural assault, and that’s a fact.”
Andersen is a multi-decade member of the local scene, a whiz with a beat-up punk guitar and a seemingly endless array of effects pedals. He is one of the best engineers in the area and a firm disciple of the early Sub Pop years when music was cool.
“On the heels of the departure of our long-time drummer, Jenn Andersen, we linked up with a talented young gun, drummer Lukas Lerner, also rhythm guitar in Frances Dean,” Jay says. “We immediately set about cranking out new tunes, one of which will appear on a limited-edition cassette with local hardcore band Mister Blonde. That split, recorded at Operation:Audio’s Bohemisphere studio, and our next full length, I Came, I Saw, I Left, are both to be released on the new Queen City Tapes label out of Poughkeepsie. Both will be available in October. The split, for Cassette Store Day 2017, will be released on Oct. 14 at the Queen City Tapes Showcase at Darkside Records [in Poughkeepsie], while the full-length is awaiting official release details.”
I ask Jay to tell me a bit more about working with Queen City Tapes, a boutique label that wants to help left-of-field bands make a dent without having to follow the trends.
“I’ve recently partnered my studio with the QCT brand of T.J Spiak and hope to use that partnership to foster a better scene and help really push up and coming bands out to at least the local masses,” Andersen explains. Think of him as a sort of Jack Endino type helping the label track acts.
“I want bands to realize that somebody does actually give a shit about them and how they sound, and to know that I’m out here waiting to help you get your shit together and cut a great record on a budget, like for real,” he says. “It doesn’t have to cost $8,000.”
Surmiser is also playing an anti-rape culture Slut Paltz SlutWalk parade after show this Sunday, Sept. 24th at Snug Harbor in New Paltz. Exit 17, It’s Not Night: It’s Space and others will take the stage for a good cause.
“I stick with music because I can’t live without that transferral of vibration, ideas and energy,” Andersen says. “I work with other bands in hopes that they can reach the same state of feeling. Be proud of who you are and of the art that you make. If you believe in what you do, other people will eventually latch onto it.”
For those who are still sad about the passing of Linkin Park’s much-missed vocalist Chester Bennington, Linkin Park just announced a special show in honor of Chester. The one-night-only celebration will take place in Los Angeles at the legendary Hollywood Bowl on Friday, Oct. 27. The band will be joined by a number of other artists for an unforgettable night of music to honor the man that touched the lives of so many around the world. In addition, a new black T-shirt and black Linkin Park full-zip hoodie with artwork created by artist/activist Shepard Fairey for the Linkin Park and Friends Celebrate Life show is now available. These limited edition items are being released online to give fans who are unable to attend an opportunity to be a part of this special event. Proceeds from these items go to Music for Relief’s One More Light Fund. I thought I would shout them out here as a lot of people are affected by the tragedy of suicide and depression around the country and this is a cool way to remember Chester.