Black Pus: Trap Music
Brian Chippendale is the percussive force behind Black Pus. As a member of Lightning Bolt, he pummeled faces in the power duo, redefining ideas of rock or metal or whatever adjective could most closely describe the interweaving of bass guitar and drums. Chippendale is perhaps one of this era’s driving musical forces, introducing a different kind of trap music. Black Pus has seven releases–each more expansive than the next, each capturing a new approach to style and method while still representing the established sound those familiar have associated with Chippendale. FPH recently had the chance to interview Brian Chippendale via e-mail. Below is a transcript of that conversation.
Throughout the course of the albums, I would venture to say that All My Relations is the most melodic, in a way. It seems that this album is the most realized in terms of taking what you had done (“Earth Ain’t Enuff” to “Word on The Street”) but also treading newer ground (“Fly On The Wall”). How would you say the sound has progressed from album to album?
I think the big step here is a full-blown studio. So where past recordings had melodic elements, like a lot of stuff off Black Pus 4, the hi-fi studio setting cleans and thickens and brightens those elements so they aren’t buried in a sometimes murky, sometimes harsh lo-fi vibe. It also documents me evolving my vocal styles and letting myself experiment more with clear singing like on “Fly on the Wall.”
In performing the songs live, do you try to adhere to the version on the album or do you tend to use that version as a springboard for the live experience and all of the idiosyncrasies that come with that?
This tour I’m on is definitely proving the recordings are a springboard. I can play versions of the bulk of the songs from the LP but the nature of my instrumentation, an untuned oscillator and vocal loops done live, tends to let the songs wander into new places. And because it’s just me, if something is sonically not working in a certain space I’ll just take the playing musically to a place that works for the room. I like not being tied to a certain perfection live– it let’s the project breathe and evolve.
The album works as a singular document, a linear body of work with mood and texture. Did you face challenges throughout the editing process in determining the composition of your album, as it could have been molded so many ways? Do you view each album as its own thing or as sort of a continuum of the band?
I really try to look at an album as its own work, like a novel, in an abstract way– not necessarily defined by a plot, but more by the interests and energy level of that period of my life when it is made. The album idea is an arbitrary one, especially now when control of music content delivery has dissolved, but I enjoy it as a framework. It’s a funny piece of tradition in music, making 40-50 minute chunks of sound, but it works for me.
As this music seems very physically demanding, how do you prepare to perform these songs? Are there food omissions, or some sort of ritual, similar to maybe a boxer’s training aesthetic, in place to make sure you are conditioned to play a 30 or 45 minute set?
Man, I wish. I swore before tour I would practice twice as much but ended up barely getting a chance to play the week prior to leaving, what with getting my van in shape, printing some t-shirts, paying all the bills, a bunch of other stuff… Once I’m on the road, the key is to eat a few meals each day. It doesn’t seem to matter what it is, just eat. And stay warm before playing. Then, I can play. Setting all my equip up before a set, usually in a pretty warm room warms my body up, my energy level and temperature rises and then I’m good to go. Setting up equipment is a good focus ritual. Sleep helps, too, but that can be a challenge on tour.
Black Pus plays Cafe Brasil on May 27, 2013.