136 Collins Avenue
Miami Beach, FL 33139
9:00 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, 2013
The eight songs that make up snakes/vultures/sulfate, EmptyMansions debut full-length, fell into the 'familiar' mode: guitar/bass/drums—unwittingly creating a true rock-sounding record. Employing the stylistically versatile Duane Denison (The Jesus Lizard, Tomahawk, Th' Legendary Shack Shakers) who's unique approach to guitar playing defies comparison or labeling, only aids in taking the rock convention of EM a few degrees to the left. At the controls, Producer Brandon Curtis (Secret Machines, Cosmicide, Interpol) possesses the production sensibilities that serve as a balance—keeping the tracks inviting, but not without leaving a bit of challenge for the listener. Along with producing, recording, and mixing snakes, Brandon also plays bass, keyboards, and sings backing vocals.
EmptyMansions' founder/primary songwriter, Sam Fogarino (Interpol) wrote most of the songs for snakes while on tour promoting Interpol's fourth and self-titled album, from mid 2009 to late 2011. Lyrically, the songs are the result of, Sam, reading much postmodern fiction by writers such as Hubert Selby Jr ('Sulfate'); discovering an appreciation for aerial dance and a fascination with outer-space ('Lyra'); the TV-drama Justified ('Up In The Holler'), and Black Francis of Pixies fame ('That Man'). Musically, Sam drew upon classic heavyweights; Neil Young (The closing track on snakes is a cover of 'Down By The River'), The Stones, Zeppelin—filtered through his affinity with the likes of Sonic Youth and Pixies. It was after a show in Rome, Italy, that Sam and Brandon forged a bond resulting in Brandon taking on the role as producer and bassist for the future EmptyMansions debut record. Curtis was a part of Interpol's live configuration, playing keyboards on the globe-spanning run.
On that tour, while on a break in Mexico City, the two hung out in a hotel room, and began a discussion of how an idea becomes a song by pulling from random musings, life experiences, and various sources of inspiration. In February of 2012, the two began recording basic tracks, with Sam handling lead vocals, guitar and drums, and Brandon on bass and keyboards, at Normal Studio in Athens, Ga. Later that spring, Duane Denison, joined the fold. With empathy and simply by being one phenomenal musician, Duane broadly widened the voice of EmptyMansions' rock approach in two separate sessions, each lasting a mere four hours, but filling enough tracks to build an entirely separate album. By September 2012, the final mixes were completed.
EmptyMansions is now an entity; not the just a moniker for Sam's solo work, definitely not a side project, but not exactly a band either. Time will reveal what happens next, and what sonic form EmptyMansions will take next. snakes/vultures/sulfate is slated for an April 2013 release via Riot House Records. $12.50