Q&A with Sin and Kurt of Primasonic
Primasonic's frontman Sin says the band's latest effort, Unadorned, could have easily been called No Bullshit. With some help from the Overcasters' Kurt Ottaway acting as co-producer and Module Overload's Jamie Hillyer, Primasonic made a no frills, rock solid album that captures a lot of the band's frenetic live energy inspired by US and UK punk of the '70s and '80s. In advance of Primasonic gig with Big Tattoo and Smoothbore at the 3 Kings tomorrow night, we spoke with Sin and Kurt, the uni-monikered guitarist, about Unadorned, their affinity for Repo Man, albums that influenced them and a new EP they plan to start in January.
Westword: Is there any significance of the title of your latest album, Unadorned? Would you say your music is unadorned, no bullshit music?
Kurt: Yes -- this is just the music that comes out of us, without any plan or contrivance. It's not like we chose to play such wildly unpopular music because we thought we'd get rich. We picked the album title the same way we got the album art done -- we crowdsourced it. "What does this sound like to you?"
Unadorned also describes our stage show, or lack thereof. However we are feeling, the audience knows it. No BS, no planned patter, just Primasonic tonight. We might fall off the stage, we might get into an argument, or we might be great. That's half the fun -- its always a gamble.
Sin: Exactly. No props, no pomp nor circumstance. We could just as easily have named the new disc No Bullshit. Luckily, people seem to get what we're doing...most of the time. We're extremely proud of this album and the reception it's gotten from both the public and press/media.
WW: How was working with Kurt Ottoway, and what did he bring to the table when you guys made Unadorned?
Kurt: Kurt is an evil genius with a nasty caffeine habit and great ears. We really benefited from his outside perspective.
Sin: Yeah. Kurt O has amazing ears, and also knows how to effectively wield a whip. There are a few ideas we used which were mainly his suggestions... and wouldn't have happened otherwise. Not only that, but Kurt O has amazing taste in music and a great perspective on the local "scene" and scenesters and its politics. He's a very cool cat.
WW: What about working with Jamie Hillyer at Module Overload?
Kurt: Always a joy -- MO may be the best quality-per-dollar studio in the world. His magazine collection is kind of distracting, though.
Sin: We've worked with Jamie on two full length albums, an EP, plus a bunch of demos. We're a great fit, and I don't see any point to going anywhere else at this point. I fully expect that we'll go back to Jamie and Module Overload for the next recordings as well.
WW: How would say Unadorned differs from your first album?
Kurt: Much better recording quality, and maybe a little more focused. That first album holds up surprisingly well.
Sin: I'm very proud of that first album, for what it was. It was very well received and reviewed, although, in my opinion, it was a rushed prospect. We basically recorded every song we came up with at that point. This time around, with Unadorned, we did a lot of pre-production and took a lot more time with songwriting and recording, as well. And another distinction between the two albums is the fact that for the first disc we had two guitarists in the band, and now Kurt is our sole guitar God.
WW: The tune "Repossession" from Unadorned was an ode to Repo Man. Are you guys big fans of the film and the soundtrack?
Kurt: Well, yeah. It was really funny -- the song fits the film so well, and is so good, my wife thought it was a cover tune, until recently. Not sure that is entirely a compliment - "That song is way too good to be an original."
Sin: I'm a huge fan of the movie and its accompanying soundtrack. Have been since it was first released. The lyrics actually came quite easily to me after sitting down and watching the movie for what is likely the hundredth time. And the song remains one of my faves to play. Always a blast.
WW: Did you guys play in any other bands before Primasonic?
Kurt: Many, many. Fatwater, Wreck...
Sin: Yeah, all of us have played in many bands previously and most of us been doing it since the mid '80s. We have, at various times, played in bands which went on to be so-called "rock stars" and had brushes with greatness. But I have to admit that I have never had as much fun playing in any band as much as I do with Primasonic.
WW: It seems like you guys borrow from '70s and '80s American and UK punk. Anything else that influences your music?
Kurt: Old goth, industrial, metal, Leonard Cohen, and Sergio Leone soundtracks.
Sin: Not to mention garage-rock, psychedelia, '80s new wave...practically everything I've ever dug musically has had some sort of influence on me, which I bring to Primasonic. Everything from early KISS and the Cars to the Damned and Nick Cave... and beyond. I would also have to say that alcohol has been a great influence. And, lyrically, it's all mainly coming down to booze and women ... with forays into pop culture, politics, and life in general.
WW: Any particular albums that were early inspirations for you guys?
Kurt: At least three of us are former radio DJs, so there are hundreds. Standouts include XTC's Black Sea, Gang of Four's Entertainment, the Clash's Give 'em Enough Rope, and Joy Division's Closer.
Sin: AC/DC Highway to Hell, Iggy & the Stooges Raw Power, the Misfits Walk Among Us, the Cars Candy-O, Discharge Hear Nothing See Nothing Say Nothing, Ministry The Land of Rape & Honey, The Clash Sandinista ... and way too many others.
WW: Anything new in the works? New album, EP?
Kurt: We are always writing, always trying out new things. We are looking for a Brian Eno-esque keyboard player to push us a bit. There will be no turntables or nu-metal. We promise that much. Unadorned just hit Eastern Europe and Kazakhstan, so we may have to move over there and milk that scene. They still have things to rebel against.
Sin: Yeah, we'll probably start on a new EP some time in January. We already have a few new tunes written and are constantly writing -- as Kurt said. So there's that ... and playing out around town, plus we would love to do some sort of short European tour maybe in 2010. Other than that I'll probably buy a few new ties and a new pair of boots ... and just keep making this glorious noise with my boys.