Sunday, June 15, 2014

Interview with Andrea from Nü Sensae

Nü Sensae is a band from Vancouver, Canada that plays songs in the key of aggression. Their songs often to me sound like the difference between being a "survivor" and a "victim" in a case of abuse - Andrea Lukic takes the wrongs of the world and flings them back into the void. It's powerful. Coupled with a rib-aching screamed delivery, lyrics seem to make more sense. I don't know how much of Nü Sensae lyrics are from life and how much are stories, but they ring true. For instance, on their split 7" with the Coathangers, Andrea sings "She made him promise/To Show off her Body/The trophy; the eye/I would give it to you/His hands are tied/Float in the front room/Images annexed/Taped off in the chrome/No one’s asking/Quickly morphing/You watch them bloom." It's an image unsettling as it is vivid - seemingly coming from a horror movie or the news any day of the week.

Nü Sensae have released three full-length albums, including their previous LP Sundowning on Suicide Squeeze. They've been going relentlessly for a few years between tours and recording and now they seem to be taking a well-deserved rest, at least for a little bit, while working off-and-on recording a new album. They're a consistently engaging band that, in my opinion, has never taken a false step. They're a breath of fresh air in punk-rock, a genre that sometimes spawns more copycats than prototypes. Nü Sensae mixes in grunge, one of my favorite things, and even some classic rock chops, which is great to see.

Check out the band on their Facebook Page and keep an eye out for them when they're on tour

Jordan: So I was just reading the piece about you and your books and I liked the comparison you had to Kenneth Anger. Are you big into magic?

Andrea: I would say I’m interested. I read a lot about it. I’m interested in magic in all forms - as an art, as music, as health. I find that it’s a productive thing to learn about - you can project your problems onto other sources. Like, reading about planet alignment and seeing that it can help you not put such a burden on yourself.

J: Have you read anything good lately, not just in regards to magic?

A: I really like Richard Brautigan. I’ve been reading a book about his writing - it’s cool. I don’t usually do that. When I was younger, I’d see those books and not understand. I’d get home from the library and see that it wasn’t actually one of the author’s books that I wanted, but a book about the actual writing.

J: What a sick joke!

A: It’s cool now because I’m somewhat of an information hoarder. Not like general information - I can’t do a crossword, but I invest a lot into the things that I want to know. And you can talk to your friends, but it’s sometimes rare to have multiple friends who read the same thing. Now those books are interesting to me - there’s a crossover in music with lyrics. It’s why I like going to karaoke nights. I’ll sit by the machine just to see the lyrics.

J: Whoa cool!

A: Other people are singing, but I’ll see popular songs that I just never really knew the lyrics to.

J: It’s always interesting to see if bands can sneak in something. I remember when I heard that Third Eye Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” referenced crystal meth.

A: Oh yeah, that one’s crazy!

J: I couldn’t believe it.

A: Yeah, it’s really sad. It has some uncomfortable moments in it, but it’s just overall such a dark song.

J: I heard the guy say that he saw it as a response to Lou Reed’s “Taking a Walk on the Wild Side” in a 90s perspective.

A: That’s really cool. I have a lot of respect for that song. It’s kind of a magical song - I always hear people talk about when they first heard the real lyrics to that song. It’s awakening and centers around a moment.

J: Have there been other examples of similar things?

A: I don’t know any specific ones. That’s a big one. In general there are older songs that sound happy, but at Karaoke, you hear someone with a mediocre voice singing. The song can’t hide behind a strong voice so you begin to realize that the song is terribly sad. You think “some person wrote this pining for someone who isn’t as confident.” I can’t think of any off the top of my head. I remember once at karaoke, someone did a Beastie Boys song and I remember thinking that the lyrics sounded like something from a hardcore song. I mean, they were a hardcore band. A lot of hardcore songs are about getting stabbed in the back. It was that “sabotage” song and it was so angry. You realize some real backstabbing happened.

J: I guess I don’t really know the Beastie Boys oeuvre that well - it’s a pretty glaring hole in my music knowledge.

A: They were really influential to a bunch of young people. They’re really cool dudes apparently too.

J: There was a documentary on breakdancing I saw in high school - I was really big into breakdancing then - and there was a section about how the Beastie Boys pretty much made Adidas into being the shoes to wear for breakdancing. That’s my only real reference to them other than Futurama.

A: I think they’re really influential in terms of music, but also just the cool guy style.

J: Are you guys working on a new album?

A: We’re working on it right now. We took a pretty long break from doing it. We took a break because we had been touring so much. Brody, the guitarist, got married. We don’t do grants or things like that so it’s so financially daunting touring and recording. Sometimes you just want to chill and make food at home and do nothing. I needed a break.

A: I’ve been going so hard since I was like in Kindergarten. I went to school right after high school and started the band then and I didn’t really stop until this year so I never had a chance to not do anything and see what it’s like.

J: What do you do with your time?

A: I do a lot of visual arts, but aside from that, I’ve been booking shows here and giving some payback for all the favors from friends like letting people sleep on my couch. That’s the thing when we were touring a lot - I couldn’t do that because I didn’t have a place.

J: Have you booked any shows you’re especially proud of?

A: I guess all of them are cool. The last one was weird because I got into a confrontation with middle-aged washed-up rockers who were being pricks. It’s kind of disheartening. It doesn’t happen that often, but they were the most sexist pigs ever and it was so fucked. I’ve been on tour to so many places and small towns and hadn’t been treated like that.

J: God.

A: It’s really weird. You forget that people are still small-minded. It seems to always come from these alt communities. This fucking rocker alcoholic guy in his 40s with his handbag girlfriend who had a shitty idea of what was going on.

J: It’s not good to be reminded - I don’t know. Maybe it is good to be reminded.

A: It’s just weird, like when someone you meet is racist or something - you think “you’re still around?” It’s totally archaic.

J: It’s something I’ve been curious about. Even in primary school you learn about Martin Luther King jr. and equality. So where do you learn racism?

A: Right. It should be inherent to treat people well, but I guess that doesn’t always happen.

J: It’s disheartening. I don’t know. There’s got to be a way to deal with it. It’s like how you always seek for the perfect comeback for something and you get it like 20 minutes later.

A: It was so cool cause I felt that in the moment - the guy was saying “you’re a cunt,” “you’re a bitch,” and I was telling people to leave cause it was done. And I kind of lost it on them, but at the time, I was wishing that I could have said something that was a coherent message to them. It just so happened that one of them reached out to me through an e-mail to ask “hey, are we still banned from that venue?” And it was so nice to word it all nice and tell them exactly who they were and what they contributed and how they effect the show going population. It was cool being able to write it out to the people. Sometimes that happens.

J: it’s always good to teach a lesson. You have to do it correctly, though, or otherwise, it can hurt your cause.

A: Yeah, for sure, which is why it was nice to write something coherently.

J: Who are some of the bands from around there that are nice to see or play with?

A: I’m not that good at seeing new bands from around here. The last show I booked there was this band from around here who has been playing for a while called Koban. There’s a girl on bass and a guy on guitar and a drum track. When I first saw them years ago, it was really stripped down, but it was really weird and intriguing. Now they’ve developed their sound so it’s full and just sounds really good. Their album is actually coming out next month.

A: Another band that I like is called Cave Girl. Clarence is my friend in the band and she’s really funny.

A: Cindy Lee is my favorite one. It’s Pat from a band called Women and my friend Morgan plays drums and there’s a rotating guitar player. I really wanted to play bass in that band and there’s kind of a wait list so if anything happens, but I hope it doesn’t of course. I’ve never asked to join someone’s band that already had members (laughs) but they’re so cool and definitely one of the best bands. They’re very melancholy and their music sounds very complicated.

J: I have to check all those bands out.

A: Oh, my friend Dave has a band called Flyin’  that sounds kind of like Spacemen 3 - they’re really cool and they have a tape out. The vocals aren’t like Spacemen 3, which is nice.

J: I’ve seen Spiritualized a couple times.

A: I’m seeing them next weekend.

J: Where?

A: In Calgary - there’s a festival and my friends White Lung are opening.

J: I love that band! I listened to Sorry four times yesterday. I love that record and am super excited about the new one.

A: They’re opening.

J: They’re opening for spiritualized?

A: Well, it’s a festival and the bill is one of those things that just makes no sense.

J: I like it that way.

A: I do too, but when you play festivals it kind of sucks. We haven’t played enough big festivals so maybe it gets better. But those kinds where it’s all in different venues and the headliners open - it’s weird that these smaller bands that go all the way there get slotted at the end because of the Black Lips or whatever hype shit is playing. You know there’ll be like a Heineken-sponsored free show and it’s so crappy. I get bummed at those places. I’ll go see a smaller local band and it’ll be empty cause people went to see Andrew WK DJ. It doesn’t make any sense.

J: I mean, I like mixed bills but I’m not a huge festival fan.

A: Yeah.

J: We don’t have a music scene with that many mixed bills in Chicago, but I was just talking to the guys in this band Glow God - do you know that band?
A: No

J: They’re cool - they’re from Oklahoma and we were shooting the shit. They were saying that since Oklahoma is a smaller community, they just have bands from across a bunch of different genres play and I was thinking “Wow, that’s a great idea. There’s not enough of that!”

A: Yeah, I really like when there’s one place - everyone gets a fair set time and shot at playing to a group of people so no one is rushing to different places.

J: Yeah, and some dude’s lying in the street yelling “don’t be a hero!”

A: I remember when I was a teenager going to Warped Tour, and I never saw anything that good, but I feel like I never missed anything. There seemed to have been time to see everything. The complicatedness didn’t exist. Then again, I didn’t know most of the bands. I watched a lot of bands based on their name.

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