Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Interview with Corey Cunningham from Terry Malts

Terry Malts Hanging Out in Hats and Clothes
When I lived in Durham, my favorite live venue was probably The Pinhook. One reason behind this was that it had character, in addition to great bar specials. The second was that it was run by Kym Register of Midtown Dickens, who rocks. And then Bull City Records' Chaz Martenstein was always presenting shows there, such as the Gross Ghost, Terry Malts, and Spider Bags show. I was acquainted with both Gross Ghost and Spider Bags before this show, on account of them being from the area and a nearly ubiquitous presence for anyone who listened to rock n' roll in the community. Terry Malts, however, were foreign to me.

It's no secret that I like to enjoy a fine malt beverage from time to time. Earlier that night, I had bought Dan McGee a Gin & Tonic, because he can't drink beer, in return for a cup of fine Andre champagne he had given me at the Golden Boys, J Wes Coleman, Spider Bags show.

Terry Malts rock in the best sense. The three members, Corey, Phil, and Nacie play their hearts out and have some serious swagger as they perform. I didn't know any of the songs, except for their cover of Black Flag's "Six Pack" at the end, which, of course made my night. I bought the band a round of PBRs after and talked for a while about their music. These guys were super nice. It really made it easy to like their music, since they're really swell folks.

A Live Show
To get to know them, you can check out their FACEBOOK PAGE or check out their artist page at SLUMBERLAND RECORDS. They're about to start a tour on the West Coast with the Fresh & Onlys. Check 'em OUT!

Jordan: What is a Terry Malt?

Corey: It's drunk-speak. We are inebriated so often that sometimes it becomes necessary to understand each other in an alternate vernacular. I think it originally meant "paper bag outside of a tall can".

J: Who all is in the band? How did the band start? What makes you tick? How did you arrive at the set up that you have when you play?

C: It's me and Phil and Nacie. We've played together in a bunch of different bands over the past 10 years- some rather serious and some jokey ones. I think Malts is a little bit of both. My favorite jokey one was one I played drums in with Phil called "Youth Decay". It was a hardcore punk sort of thing. Like Jerry's Kids but two guys.

J: Do you feel like there are any clear influences in your music or people that you associate your music with or even just friends/bands you like to play with?

C: When we started we had two philosophical keystones: "Black Tambourine Flag" and "Tall Cans, Poppers, and Feedback". We've pretty much stuck to those ethos. I really like my friends and their bands but identity is more important to me than being part of a cohesive scene and adapting to someone else's sound. That being said it's always fun to play with Permanent Collection, Dead Angle, Sea Lions, and Plateaus.

J: What was the process behind "Killing Time" like? It's a real rock n' roll record so where did you guys record it and how long did it take?

C: We actually tracked it all ourselves in our practice space. I wanted to limit how good the recording would sound without getting too lo-fi. That seems like such an obvious sound for bands to bury themselves in. So the first thing I did was tracking the drums in a really limited and stripped down way. I only used 3 microphones mixed down to 2 tracks. All-in-all with the guitars and vocals added it didn't take more than a few days. Most of the takes on the album are first or second takes. We wanted it to be a very simple record so it's really funny to me when we get reviews criticizing us for making something simple (as if we didn't realize what we were doing)!

J: Do you feel like there is any difference between the recorded Terry Malts and a Terry malts live show?

C: On the first album I think we're a bit restrained because there may have been an unconscious desire to play more towards the pop side of our sound since it was our first album for Slumberland. But knowing Mike better and knowing how eclectic his record collection is certainly inspired us to embrace the same sides of our collection and allow our new material to go in different, more natural places. So, in a sense, the first record is not quite as unpredictable as our live shows. This next record will probably be a lot more loose and closer to what we do live in that regard.

The Killing Time Cover
J: What do you all like to eat/drink when you're on tour? Specific foods or beers? Certain places you always go in different towns?

C: For me it's important to try all the crummy local beers. I don't mean the fancy microbrews! I mean things like Olympia, Old Style, National Bohemian, Lucky Lager, Black Label, Rainier, Old German. I love that stuff. A few of our favorite places to stop on tour are Shorty's Clown Alley in Seattle, Ruby's in Austin, Gold Room in LA, Ground Kontrol in Portland. Glad you didn't ask about record stores. That list would be really long.

J: How do you guys know the Fresh & Onlys?

C: We played shows with them in our last band, Magic Bullets. But I feel like I just knew them from Amoeba Records (where some of them have worked at various points). I can't tell you how many times I had to sell vinyl there just to pay rent. I definitely spent my fair share of time there since moving to this city.

J: What is the upcoming tour with the Fresh & Onlys going to be like? It's all on the West Coast, but do you plan on touring together at all after?

C: It's going to be a blast. We've been touring for so long that it's just second-nature to us. After a while you learn when to turn on and turn off. You learn what you need and what you don't need. Also it's good to familiarize yourself with your band-mates moods. Sometimes it's good to know when someone just needs their time to turn off, too.

J: What do you guys plan on doing for the rest of the year in terms of recordings and in terms of live performances?

C: We're about to track the second record and it should be mixed by the end of October. Other than that we don't expect to play a lot after this tour unless something special comes along.

J: What do you like to do when you aren't playing or doing music? Or does it never really end?

The Upcoming Tour with the Fresh & Onlys
C: I do a label with one of my best friends, Matt Kallman. It's called Body Double and we only do reissues. It's also an imprint of Captured Tracks. Our first two releases come out in November. I hate not being busy so I'm always coming up with something to do. I want to write a script next. Nacie loves to play golf. Phil is an avid illustrator and quite a good one at that.

J: Anything else that you'd like to say?

C: I have a few books to recommend. Try Nick Tosches' "Hellfire", Mark Yarm's "Everybody Loves Our Town", and Kenneth Anger's "Hollywood Babylon". All very good.