Band Booking: Talking J.G. Ballard and Noise With Seattle’s Iron Lung


In the spirit of the short & fast songs made by Seattle’s Iron Lung, I’ll keep the banter here abbreviated. Their  sound? All grit and fury and tense waves of feedback. Is there a new album? Indeed! Called White Glove Test. An interview with Jensen Ward: what you’re seeing here. Discussed? Books! And noise. And a compilation called Sub Pop 1000. Enjoy!

The CD version of White Glove Test features an additional disc of noise, designed to work either in tandem with the album or as a standalone work. How did you conceive this?

Since the early time of the band we’ve been obsessed with what the skull contains, be it a brain, a synapse or a sinus. The symmetry is wild and provocative. We wanted to explore the idea of making an album that would appeal to all the parts inside our heads with a specific focus on the inner ear. Obviously, that is where the aural journey begins and we wanted to make a good impression.

What was the process like of making this second album?

We wanted to include as many organic sounds as possible so we took a lot of field samples with a fancy ‘Blow Out’ recording device and used a lot of common objects found around the Oakland streets where we recorded. There are knives, bricks, piano innards, tin foil, elevator doors, drum pedals, glass and much much more in there. We took all those sounds, processed with studio trickery, and matched them to an already finished music album with the goal being 3 separate co-linear musical experiences: music album, noise album and a merged version that is free for experimentation. It is the most interactive album we’ve made and we strongly encourage people to get their hands (and ears) dirty with it.

Do you feel that this makes the album, in each of its formats, a distinct work?

Absolutely. In an increasingly saturated music world there needs to be something unique about an album or it will just get forgotten straight away. The battle for attention is arduous but not impossible to win. You just gotta be creative.

Has your appearance on Sub Pop 1000 pointed any new listeners in your direction?

We know Courtney Love listened to it and she did not enjoy our genius. Hahaha.

Since Vol.1 focuses on literature, I must ask: what are you reading these days?

We are in the middle of a few things right now. Books v. Cigarettes (Orwell), Pump Me Up (Roger Gastman), Crash (Ballard) and Love, Sex, Fear, Death (Timothy Wyllie).

Iron Lung plays tonight at St. Vitus.

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