Band Booking: Talking Thomas Pynchon and Brooklyn vs. Queens With PC Worship

PC Worship is a Queens-based band that has been making atmospheric noise-heavy punk music for about four years. The band is composed of Justin Frye, Mike Etten and a rotating cast of musicians, including “Boston Bongo” Dan, Mario Maggio and Pat Spadine. Sometimes playing as a four piece and sometimes as a seven or eight piece band, they’ve managed to release a varied and challenging slew of music that incorporates elements of post-punk, rock, noise, metal and other styles. The band’s instrument choices are as eclectic as the textures that compose their sound, with saxophone, a homemade slide guitar dubbed a “shitar”, horns, and home-built electronics accompanying the more traditional guitar, bass and drums. After releasing their first LP in 2009, the band has continued to innovate and put out new material under the PC Worship name, including their well-received 2012 LP Toxic Love, Dread Head EP, and several seven-inches. The band seeks out opportunities to improvise, sometimes even encouraging audience participation, like the time they “played a show where the entire audience played the music and we just sat there confused.” Their new album Beat Punk, which will be released by New Images LTD on March 15th, promises further development of their sound and musical concepts, and should not be missed.

I caught up with Justin Frye to ask about the band, touring plans and some of the method behind the music.

What is the band up to these days?

We just did a three week tour down to Florida and back via New Orleans and through the south. Right now we’re back in New York for a couple of days then we’re heading down to Festival NRML in Mexico and SXSW. After that I’m planning on recording a new album and laying low on shows for a minute. We also have a new LP coming out on New Images LTD called Beat Punk, which is slated for release on March 15.

You guys produce a lot of videos. How do you see the connection between the visual story you’re telling in your videos and the lyrical and audio content of your songs?

Usually I make videos with no intentions of using them as music videos and if they remind me of a song I’ll just combine them. When other people have made them for us, pretty much the same process took place, except on James Thomas Marsh’s video for “Parking Lot”, where he improvised video effects to the song in my friend GSP’s living room. I just recently worked with Jason Adam Baker on a project where he filmed and conceived an entire performance art piece on the beach and we set it to a song called “Born In My Shell”. The music and video were both made independently made, but go together really well.

What’s the song “Southern Withdrawal” about?

“Southern Withdrawal” is pretty literal term about craving the tone of life I grew up with in the South.

Could you elaborate on that? What do you miss in particular?

It’s not so much about missing anything; it’s about craving unexplainable feelings that don’t exist in NYC. It’s about purveying the imagery of life and Southern pace through a situational narrative. “We’re all dogs, barking in the rain.”

Are there any literary influences that make it into your songs?

All the time. Just like the way listening to music can subconsciously influence your approach. In terms of direct influence, my lyricism is heavily Beat inspired, thus the title to the new LP is Beat Punk.

What are you reading these days?

I’ve been 50 pages from the end of Inherent Vice for about six months. It just doesn’t feel right finishing a Pynchon book.

Does the surrealist aspect of Thomas Pynchon’s work interface with your work as a musician?

Definitely. Pynchon’s ability to create a subtext from line to line and his compositional saturation really resonate with the way I compose recordings. I remember reading Gravity’s Rainbow, which is another one I have yet to finish, and thinking about how every sentence was so poetic and lush that, to me, the act of reading each word was almost more important than directing myself toward the conclusion. I was less curious about how the book might end than I was with the very nature of an inconsequential sentence. For me, that was an idea that very distinctly made its way into the over-saturated nature of PC recordings. There’s always room for more layers and broader textures. 

How do you like operating out of Queens? Do you think Brooklyn is over-saturated at this point?

I live in Queens, which is a refreshing and culturally rich environment. Brooklyn is like a wet dog these days. I think it’s safe to say that Brooklyn is one of the most over saturated artistic communities in the world. Queens is a good local alternative for people that don’t want to be confronted with post-adolescent artistry around every corner.

How do you feel like the music industry has changed, and how do you like it?

I feel like the climate of the music industry has little to no effect on anything I do now or have ever done.

PC Worship’s new LP Beat Punk, comes out March 15th on New Images LTD.

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