Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Mike Gentry
Prussia, in reference to the land mass formerly ruled by Frederick the Great in its glory days, is now just a word. It serves only historical purposes and ceremonious power in terms of its original state of being. It used to be a country. Then it was abolished by the Nazis before it was officially abolished by the Allied forces following the second great war, so now it isn't anymore and hasn't been for quite some time.
One thinks that the only reason that the Detroit, Mich., band of the same name adopted it as its own identity is as a sarcastic response to what the Prussians felt they virtuously stood for: perfect organization, discipline, sacrifice, rule of law, obedience to authority, reliability, tolerance, frugality, punctuality, modesty, and diligence. Prussia, the band, thinks of those things not so much, other than to expose their hijackings by real life people and characters devised in their leisure quarters. The band operates loosely, employing little regimentation in either music or language, instead crossing all of the wires, jumbling the tried and true ways of the pop song and hence bringing into the world a brand of noble creature that is left to navigate between a sundry of vacillating moral contortions and the stuffs of haunting dreams that end in incestuous rapings, and that's just the start of this nasally melodic world that Calvino would have been impressed by.
Lead singer Ryan Spencer takes very short and extravagant pilgrimages into the abstract passages of his thinker and ticker, taking a swift run through those zip codes and collecting all of the most concerning and dynamic, sometimes demented, little views that zip by like motorcycles. His lyrics lay rubber inside, those black and dinky earworms, throwing paint up on the walls of heads and taking on the roll of the houseguests who can't take a hint. Oh, but that makes these lasting images seem to be negative, which they aren't. It's more that you're walking around singing, "I got into words and buried my face in the earth/You must be fucking insane/Listening to you, Christ, you must be insane - fucking insane," and feeling caught up in "Placemats For Three," a song about - if our calculations are correct - no fewer than four maniacs and the devil really having a field day with the impressionable and the sleep-walking.
We're left with a feeling - or one CAN be left with a feeling - that there are many experiments gone wrong on both the good and the evil sides of the board game. There's a real sense that God (a name that is invoked often in Spencer's lyrics, not as a hero, but as a symbol and almost as if he's one of those maniacs) and the devil are fucking things up and maybe not taking as much credit for the carnage as they should be. There's Kwame Kilpatrick, the corrupt Detroit mayor, who Spencer imagines as a guy - like himself - who is uncomfortable being alone and, what's so wrong with that? Frequently, there's chaos in Prussia and there's something very, very nice about that. It's something the original Prussians would have turned beet red at the sight. They're all dead anyway so it's not a worry anyway.
Prussia MySpace Page