Posted by Jason Diamond
I’d understand if you noticed that Pop. 1280 was named after Jim Thompson’s 1964 novel and maybe expected something more akin to Nick Cave’s early sludgy work, The Scientists, or a band that could score some of the earlier works of Jim Jarmusch. In all honesty, I was expecting something along those lines when I gave the band’s EP on Sacred Bones, The Grid, a first listen; instead, I was treated to something that sounded like Suicide and Swans duking it out in some David Cronenberg adaptation of a William Burroughs book that isn’t Naked Lunch (and, yeah, maybe some early Nick Cave as well).
The band conjures up imagery of what we thought a future dystopia looked like in the early 80s, not 2012. It’s not all iPads on the fritz, Mayan calendar running out sort of stuff. It’s cruder than that. Pop. 1280 is the soundtrack to crawling out of the Cold War into a nuclear winter ruled by machines that have black and green computer screens. And on their forthcoming LP, The Horror, it gets even more terrifying.
Why did you decide to name your band after a Jim Thompson novel?
Ivan Lip: Naming a band is really hard. We kept coming up with names and then deciding they were too offensive or silly or finding out that there was another band named that or whatever. We were passing the Jim Thompson novel around the band and everyone liked it and it seemed to have the feel that we wanted our music to have.
Chris Bug: I think we also chose it because it has a nice ring to it, and it lends itself to doing cool graphic design stuff. Also, literary reference aside, I think the name has foreboding sound to it, like it could be a prison statistic, or an android’s serial number, or a new drug prototype.
Have people picked up on the reference?
Chris Bug: When we first started the band, I think it helped get us some shows because Jim Thompson has such a cult following. Honestly, I hardly remember the book at this point.
Ivan Lip: I’m concerned about the family finding out and then we get our ass sued.
Your band name and the lyrics to your songs lead me to believe there’s some other literary influence on your music. Is that the case?
Ivan Lip: We pass books back and forth and I think that in terms of themes or lyrical ideas these have an effect, but everything in your life has an effect on the sludge you create. Also, you can steal lines from books a lot easier than from pop songs without people noticing.
Chris Bug: Very literary.
“Bodies in the Dunes,” the first single off the forthcoming album, is a perfect example. It’s like a really short story written by some trangressive author. Do you ever see other influences (art, film, etc.) pop up when you’re creating a song?
Chris Bug: Of course. Film has always been a big influence on us. I’ve come up with lots of lyric ideas while watching movies. Sometimes it’ll just be an image in the film, and that can be a starting point for a narrative in a song. And film obviously has a big influence on our artwork. We also get a lot of our influence just from observing Western culture, especially New York culture, which I think is a disgusting entity.
The first single sounds cleaner but also more chaotic than anything off your debut. What’s changed for you guys between the EP and The Horror?
Ivan Lip: Well we have two new guys in the band. We improvised more parts in the studio and took our time layering different instruments. At the same time Ben gave us a bigger recording with a heavier drum sound.
Chris Bug: We also learned a lot from recording that EP. We wanted The Horror to sound more natural and experimental, really flushed out. And I like to think we’ve become better songwriters since recording the EP.