Homebody: "I don't think I could write full-blown experimental music. I like pop too much."
You know gamelan music?" asks Michael Stein. "The instruments are tuned slightly differently, so that's how they get it to shimmer. They play slightly out of time, so it has an organic delay to it. [Canadian musician] Mac DeMarco's guitar is shitty and the neck's really loose, so when he plays chords, it goes out of tune while he's playing."
That's part of what Stein is trying for as a guitarist in Homebody. The band's first show was in August 2013, opening for weirdo rippers No Age, an act whose joyously noisy punk pop is a clear influence on Homebody's music. Prior to Homebody, Stein and Morris Kolontyrsky (also a guitarist) had been members of School Knights, a group that might have started with garage rock but eventually evolved into something more experimental and sonically complex. Kolontyrsky's technical growth as a musician helped.
Stein and Kolontyrsky became interested in softer, less frenetic music toward the final months of School Knights' existence. The short-lived but influential Canadian post-punk band Women was a touchstone for the two, and they recruited Carson Pelo of Kevin Costner Suicide Pact to take up the drums. The trio's adventures into pop music have skewed into interesting territory, including brushes with psychedelia. Their experimentation is made possible by both an intuitive sense of rhythm and a willingness to play with the conventional structures of songs.
"I don't think I could write full-blown experimental music, because I like pop too much," says Stein. "But I like it to be slightly off so you barely notice it. You can't quite dance to it, and it throws you off so that it's slightly confusing. We just don't want to be music to take drugs to or anything."
"We've had a goal with some songs where we challenged what I would normally write [in] an intricate section," adds Pelo. "But no matter how much we try and throw curveballs into it, there's still that pop element. No matter how much post-punk or how much noise you throw into a track, it always comes out pop."
The outfit's new, self-titled EP certainly has a left-field pop sensibility. This time out, Stein was inspired by an unexpected source to push himself as a lyricist.
"I wanted it to be creepy-sounding, but not in a threatening way -- like Steely Dan," says Stein. "It's smooth but a little creepy. I hated Steely Dan until a year ago, and I saw a video of them performing on The Midnight Special, introduced by Bill Cosby. Everyone in that band is a nerd, and they all look a little crazy. All their songs are about weird shit. I can't imagine that the majority of people who listen to that band know what they're all about."