Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Sound engineering by Brad Kopplin
We as people are all afforded - each and every one of us - a certain volume of unspeakably crystalline innocence that gradually vanishes over the years, in smoky ribbons, as unnoticeably as a whisper giving birth. Its subtlety is its most notable form of transport and the way every transaction between the boy and the man or the girl and the woman goes. There's talk that you can launder some of that non-tampered wonderment, but there's always a hint of pink or light denim blue to the fabric, making it obvious that the colors ran at some point. They aren't virgin by any stretch of the imagination. They're sullied, but it might not be for the worse. It could just be that natural causes don't allow one to remain stationary in that phase for a reason and it's non-negotiable. It doesn't have to preclude flashbacks or sprees where the safe's combination is cracked and all is let out is a rush, filling the air as completely as the aromas of baking bread do a kitchen. We get to make withdrawals every so often, under the watchful eye of the invisible gatekeeper who gets to stand around, scowl some, scoff more and say, "Aren't you too old for that?" And whatever "that" is, it's taken back, replaced by the things responsibility forces you to make priority.
There are worse things to have stolen from you than the myth that there's a winged pixie that breaks and enters your room while you're slumbering and leaves money behind for worthless baby teeth. The nights of fitful sleep and tear-stained pillows over that breaking news shouldn't crash a man's spirit, but what if the grim reaper came not for you whole, but said you could live as long as he could take all of your playfulness and all of the mystery that you've got residing up there or inside. What then? That's the shit that's worth a damn. That's the shit that you'd get wistful for in a hurry, ranting and raving that it was your one true folly, giving in to the man in black when he laid out the bargain. All this grousing about maintaining an unfettered well of that innocence - as good as a booty of bricks from Fort Knox - brings us to Brooklyn four-piece The Subjects.
There are bonfires burning inside, underneath the tufts of chest hair, of these four - who sometimes carry the nom de guerres of Cobra and Pickles and Shanks. Many of these fires, though evidence could never hold any water, seem to have been started with hundreds of mischievous little matchsticks, not knowing what would happen when the red tip slapped the scratchy box. For throughout the length of the band's forthcoming full-length debut, With the Ease, Grace, Precision and Cleverness of Human Beings (out in February on Pretty Activity Records), not a second goes by where you think that what you're hearing isn't discovery, like spotting and naming a new star. Each and every song has taken ill, gone amnesiac from all of the titular worries of mankind, but still sunk their teeth into the worrisome problems and expectancies of someone in that transition foyer - swaying between that grown-up and the person who still can appreciate the joys of Silly String, Wacky Wall Crawlers, splashing around in public fountains, too much tequila when a small glass would suffice, blowing bubbles and experimenting with your thoughts and guitars, which when it's all added up is better than a suitcase of cash.
Dave Sheinkopf's vocals and lyrics stream out of his mouth as if they were breakable, but tough. His insecurities are point-on to the ones that we can't help but address some time or other, but when guitarists Joe Smith and Jimmy Carbonetti add their two cents worth, and drummer Matt Iwanusa lavishes the undercurrent of songs with a backup crooning, it turns the self-conscious notings into a rare sort of timelessness that can't really be explained without it sounding trite. You might not find your way to that conclusion right away - give it time - but it's there, aloofly slouched into the back corner of " Time" and "The Hounds of War." It's smoking an unfiltered cigarette and breathing the exhale up to the ceiling fan with a cool, inescapable nonchalance. The line I want to use to describe The Subjects is from the exasperated phone call scene in "Back to the Future," where Marvin Berry - with his bloody, bandaged playing hand - punches in his cousin Chuck's phone number and says, "You know that new sound you've been looking for? Well, listen to this...," but that's not at all true and they'd probably be embarrassed to have you even suppose some such thing. The truth is that their music does put that hot coal in you that makes you want to exaggerate their many great traits and they will make you babble as if you're holding a winning lottery ticket. They'll make you believe that old souls can be innocent. It's not just a party trick. They actually do still swig from the teat of the place that most of us can't go back to, where it's passion before sanity.
The Daytrotter interview:
*What are your respective residences like? Jimmy's was called The Penthouse, correct?*
Joe Smith: I live in a building filled with hipsters. I am not really there that much. I have been to the Penthaus once or twice. It is quite a palace.
Matt Iwanusa: My room, since it is right next door to Jimmy's, is probably the waiting room for the penthouse.
*How do you guys spend your days besides pestering The French Kicks to take you on tour with them? Are they weakening?*
JS: Asking the Rolling Stones if they want to open for us. They are not weakening.
MI: I go to film school, then rage all night. The French Kicks cannot stop the rage love between us.
*If you were as tall as Nick from the Kicks, would you use your powers for good or evil?*
JS: I would become the tallest person to ride the smallest bicycle in the world.
MI: If I was as tall as Nick from the French Kicks I would use my powers for good on the streets and evil on the basketball courts.
*Is Daytrotter still the farthest west the band's been?*
JS: As one, it is our only venture across the Mississippi. It was a lot of fun driving back and forth across the river and going "East Coast Biatch!" "West Coast Biatch!" I don't know if that would ever get old for me.
*Did you learn anything when you toured the John Deere world headquarters here? I see you're using a photo from there for press purposes.*
JS: Those grain harvester things cost like $700,000 for a new one and the harvest mechanism. John Deere makes cool golf carts that are go for $10,000. Great landscaping around the facility.
MI: I got locked in one of the John Deere machines for about two minutes and started to panic. Shortly after, I figured out that the handle on the door required pressure then up. Not just pressure.
*Now Dave and Joe were the teachers, correct? What school was it? What did you teach? Matt/Jimmy -- what could you possibly have learned from those two? Did you ever think you'd be in a band with a teacher?*
JS: I taught Spanish and video for a year and English for two.
MI: It was a small school in Manhattan. Joe was my English teacher and Dave was my video teacher. I don't know what I really learned but if it was anything, it was probably similar to my last answer, apply pressure then up.
*How has Jimmy's spreading of his seed been going?*
JS: The cup runneth over.
MI: It has been really good. Jimmy gets better everyday.
*What was it like to have a sold out CD release show? Shouldn't that have waited until February?*
JS: Incredible and no.
MI: Well it was our friends' CD release show but we can say it was ours too. It was a lot of fun. We all raged all night.
*Which fictional characters from literature/TV or film do you most identify with and why?*
JS: Wilford Brimley. We have the same eyebrows.
MI: I would have to say Conan in Conan the Destroyer not the Barbarian. I feel like he is really manly and I kinda like that.
*Do you have that 60s and 70s feel running through your veins? It sounds like it does.*
JS: 1972 was a big one for me. It was underappreciated but now people are coming around. I love the way the music from the 60s and 70s sounds.
MI: I love the 60's and 70's music was good then but I really love the 50's.
*What did you go trick or treating as?*
JS: Last year I was an OT 2. The year before that I was Chewbacca as Teen Wolf. This year I was tourist.
MI: I went as a CMJ person. I put on my CMJ badge and went into shows. I should have put it around my neck and wore the bag they gave us on my shoulder the whole night. I would have looked cool.
*Who are the hounds of war? Could I be one and you don't even know it?*
JS: Who isn't?
MI: You just might.
*On your site, you claim to love each other and rage a lot. Are we to take you on your word or do you have examples?*
JS: We have gone bowling together.
MI: Our first night on tour we all slept in a small tent. It was raining and we were all really sweating. But no one really complained.
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