Black Black Black Interview with Jason Alexander Byers: Acquiring Targets

Posted in Features on May 31st, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

The self-titled debut from Brooklyn’s Black Black Black arrived with minimal fanfare. There was no hype machine at work to herald its coming or viral video campaign to tease song snippets. First there wasn’t an album and then there was.

By the account of vocalist Jason Alexander Byers, this follows suit with the general ethic at the heart of the band to be as bullshit-free as possible at all times. His telling of how Black Black Black got together — he moved to Brooklyn from Ohio, knew guitarist Jacob Cox from their shared tenure in Disengage and they started the band with bassist Johnathan Swafford and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher — and his recollections of the three-month songwriting process for the album’s 12 tracks and the two-week recording with Andrew Schneider are the epitome of sans drama. They wanted to make these things happen, and they happened.

For that being the case, however, Black Black Black‘s Black Black Black – you’ll never guess what color the cover is — charts a surprisingly diverse course across its span, from the vaguely ritualized overtones of the “Seance for a Sucker” intro and the noise rock boogie of “Pentagram On,” to which Unsane‘s Dave Curran contributes guest screams, on through the blistering punk intensity of “Redeath” and the dreamy ’90s-style alt melodies of “Lexipro Devil.” Through all this runs a thread of heavy tones captured at their most crisp by Schneider‘s production and a still-lighthearted attitude that comes through in clever titles like “Light Light Light” and “Drum 0))))” even as Byers‘ graphic contributions to the album — a 40-page artbook released with the vinyl through Aqualamb Records, detailed here — leave grim, lasting impressions.

Byers‘ explanation? “You don’t want to do a steady 4/4 all the time. It gets boring.”

Fair enough. Black Black Black will be joining the likes of Lo-Pan, Gozu, Borracho and Supermachine at the Eye of the Stoned Goat 3 fest at The Acheron in Brooklyn on July 27 (more info here) and a follow-up to the self-titled is already in the works. In the interview that follows, Byers gives the background on the band’s origins and some of his theories on how the visual and aural sides tie together.

Complete interview is after the jump. Please enjoy:

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Nice Package: Black Black Black’s Black Black Black Artbook

Posted in Visual Evidence on January 4th, 2013 by H.P. Taskmaster

Ahead of the Aqualamb Records release of Black Black Black‘s self-titled debut on Feb. 5 (details here), the label was kind enough to send a promo of the NYC-based heavy/noise rock band’s album. Included as well in said promo was a copy of the limited 40-page artbook designed by vocalist Jason Alexander Byers (ex-Disengage), also a visual artist who’s had gallery showings in Miami, his native Ohio, and current residence in Brooklyn as well.

One of the most impressive aspects of Black Black Black‘s Black Black Black (review here) is how widely the band’s personality varies between tracks, whether it’s the strong hooks of “Wisdom, Knowledge and Fucked,” or the raging NY-style noise of “Pentagram ON,” on which Dave Curran from Unsane contributes guest vocals, or the later despondency of “Lexipro Devil,” memorable for its melody even as it feels detached from reality in a manner befitting its chemical allusion. Elsewhere, chugging riffs like that of “Night Moves” and the even-more-plodding “Light Light Light” give a modern heavy sensibility offset by touches of ’90s alt rock, but no matter which angle you try to approach it from, Black Black Black shows little interest in easy categorization.

So it goes as well with Byers‘ work in the artbook, which ranges from horror schlock to the target-minded interpretations that form the basis of a lot of his style and indeed, the band’s logo above, which draws the eye toward the center and the heart of the work. Also including the liner notes credits, a table of contents and thanks, pages are broken up by each song, with lyrics handwritten over culled and distorted images:

“Pentagram ON”

“Mishandled Cult Funds”

“Soar Like a Spider”

You can see in the sample shots above that the mood is pretty dark across the board, but that the images themselves vary, and I’d say that’s true of the album as well. If nothing else, the book makes an excellent companion to the tracks on the record — which aren’t exactly lacking atmosphere on their own but are made even more vivid all the same. This being Black Black Black‘s first full-length, I hope the blend of aural and visual is something Byers and his bandmates, Jacob Cox (guitar), Johnathan Swafford (bass) and Jeff Ottenbacher (drums) continue to experiment with, since it offers a level of engagement with the material rarely seen in these days of digital minimalism.

Black Black Black‘s Black Black Black is due out Feb. 5 on Aqualamb Records. For more on the band, check out their Thee Facebooks or the label’s site, and for more of Byers‘ art, his website is here.

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