CB: Is it because it's more expensive?
H: Yeah, it's more expensive and also Albuquerque is more of a car town, and you don't really interact as much.
CB: Did you know all about the music scene out here before you moved?
H: I think we had misconceptions that we were pretty excited about.
M: Not really though. Me and Amy had made a couple of vacations out here to visit some friends, but we didn't really get too clear a picture as to what was going on here musically. I mean, the extent of our knowledge of what was going on here was the Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Rosemaries. So I thought at least we could stir up the soup a little bit with what we were doing at the time. That it would probably come across as something fresh and interesting.
CB: Is that what happened?
M: Yeah, I guess, to some extent. Slowly. It took a while, and it's still taking a while. It's on a pretty turtle pace. We were aware that Metallica and Journey were from here and that Huey Lewis and the News and Primus were from here. So we knew that it was a motley scene if anything. But what's been kind of nice is that you come to understand that in this city there is such a mix of people and culture and arts on all levels that it just trickles down to the music scene.
CB: Is part of it that there are just so many more bands and people than in Albuquerque?
M: Sure. But Albuquerque is sort of stretching. When we lived in Albuquerque, most of the popular bands there were of the Amphetamine Reptile school of Jesus Lizard whatever. But I guess we left kind of on the cusp of an expanding scene of music that began to at least loosen up and get into different kinds of things. It's been kind of interesting to see how that's evolved. Last year, I spent a good two or three months in Albuquerque, but I didn't really see much music. Some good bands there are The Drags, and this band Flake that we did a split single with.
CB: How long had you been together before the move?
A: Just a few months.
Henry's Dress interviewed 5-25-96 at their house by Blake and Matt (photos by Matt)
CB: So you guys are from Albuquerque originally?
Amy: Yeah, the band started there.
Matt: Yeah we did our time there, in the desert. It was a happy childhood.
CB: When did you move from Albuquerque to San Francisco?
M: July of 1993.
Hayyim: The day we arrived was the day that guy was at 101 California popping people. And we thought that was weird, but later we knew two people who were in the building dealing with it.
CB: Is San Francisco pretty different than Albuquerque?
M: Much faster. The first thing I noticed was a time warp. I'd be sitting around and I'd think it was around two o'clock in the afternoon and it was really five. You know, there was a literal time shift because of the faster pace of the city. Things go a lot slower in Albuquerque.
H: It's generally just more demanding here to run errands. It ended up being a shock how much energy was necessary to exist.
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M: It was pretty impulsive when we look back at it. Amy was going to go to the Art Institute, and we felt that there was enough energy in those first few months that it would be worth continuing, seeing where it would go. And at the same time I had decided that I wasn't a good candidate for a college education and I didn't really feel like staying in Albuquerque working a day job. For me personally, it seemed like an adventure to go for, and to see what happened.
CB: So musically, how did you effect San Francisco?
M: I seem to recall our early shows here were often kind of jaw-dropping experiences for a lot of people. And also considering that our first show we played for fifteen people at some metal club in Oakland. We had bigger amps then and we used to get compared to a British Melvins and Unsane and stuff like that. We were definitely working in solid bass frequency. There really wasn't a lot of treble in our music except for the cymbals. It was much slower and the songs were a lot longer and we used to do things like set the guitars up and let them feed back and get this real loud.. and the feedback would kind of grow and grow exponentially and just kind of keep going and let that sink in and then go into our songs. The people who saw it were kind of awed, going "wow," or something like that.
A: I can't believe you have to transcribe this.
CB: I'm somewhat selective about what I actually type up, I don't type it all in. So did you guys know Mike from Slumberland before you moved out here?
H: Sorta, like a couple of phone calls.
A: Well, I came out to visit once and I met him. I went to Mod Lang and I asked if he'd listened to our demo yet.
CB: But you knew about Slumberland before you moved here.
A: Yeah, I guess I bugged him enough when I was in town that he listened to it, and then when I went home he called us.
CB: And he said what?
A: "Wanna do a record?"
H: Yeah, that's exactly what he said.
A: And he said "What other labels have you sent your demo to?" And I said, "Well, none." And he said "Why?" and I said "Well, it seemed like Slumberland was the only one." And he said "Cool, wanna do a record?" And that's it.
M: I remember the message on the answering machine saying "Gee whiz, golly, I listened to your demo tape and we should talk business."
A: Little did we know that it's so very unbusinesslike.
M: There's not a lot of business to deal with, and that's fine.
M: So that helped, that he was based in Berkeley. We thought that would make the whole thing much easier to deal with.
H: I remember there was this whole anxiety about how Mike would react when he saw us play live.
A: Yeah, and after he saw us he said, "Cool, a ten-inch record." Lo and behold, two years later, it came out!
CB: So was your first record material like you were playing at that point?
M: It's closer, but it's still very different. The only song
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that didn't hit the crypts from that set of songs we were doing when we first moved here was the first single. And even that was kind of an up-tempo tune from the period. But sonically it's kind of similar. It's a secret window into what might have been, had we not had a failed recording session in an unnamed studio in the East Bay. A lot of decisions were made at that point, one being that we didn't really like the songs we were playing at the time, and that was also where we decided to do the switch-off kind of thing.
CB: How was it before?
M: I would play guitar and Amy would play drums. If Amy wrote a song, I would sing it. But when we tried to record them in a real studio, it became very apparent that I wasn't capable of singing songs in the key that Amy had written them in. And I thought, "Gee whiz, why not just let Amy sing them?" And that's worked out pretty good I think.
CB: It's great, because the band sounds significantly different when you switch. It's a total bonus.
M: Two-for-one special.
CB: Are you involved in any other bands?
A: I guess this is for me. I play drums in Go Sailor.
M: I was moonlighting briefly in a band called Rev Nine. I only played one show with
that you guys moved out here together, play in a band together, and all live together. Is it hard to get along?
A: It's kinda weird, huh?
H: Yeah, except for the fist fighting.
A: I loaned him all my base, to cover up the bruises on his face.
H: Oh yeah, that's right, I'm all made up right now.
CB: So is it just the three of you living here?
M: That depends, is our landlord going to read this magazine?
CB: Are you guys mods?
A: Oh god.
M: I'm not. I can clear that up right now.
A: I work in a scooter shop and I was getting coffee and some guy came up to me and said, "Do they make you wear that mod shit when you go to work?"
M: I'm kind of fascinated with the culture a little bit, but the only thing from the period that I would hold near and dear would be, like, the first Who album, and those early
them at the Nightbreak and decided I just couldn't handle it anymore.
CB: So does this band fulfill all your musical needs?
H: I'm saturated. I mean we goof around, whatever. Certain influences drive us into this jazz mind, but we can't really articulate it, but yeah. I don't think I'd ever be able to do anything jazz oriented, unless some angel came down, touched me, and gave me jazz power.
CB: I'm kind of impressed
singles. I think the Who were basically great when they first started. Of course, they evolved into a hideous, 70's arena rock band. And I think it's weird that a lot of people focus on that.
CB: We were just making a list of songs that we never want to hear again, and Baba O'Riley was at the top of the list.
M: But yeah, I find Pete Townsend to be a pretty interesting guy.
A: He's a babe, I have a huge crush on him.
CB: Are you guys losing your hearing, too?
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A: I can't hear really high sounds. Like if I'm lying in bed listening to an album with tambourine, if I roll my head over to one side, I can't hear the tambourine, but if I roll it over to the other, I can hear it.
M: I suspect that I probaby have some hearing loss, because I do frequently find myself asking people to repeat themselves.
A: My grandpa used to send me these things that Pete Townsend wrote saying "Hey Kids, wear earplugs, enter this contest and win a signed guitar," and all this stuff.
M: But we're not that loud! In our practice space we're really loud, but not compared to a lot of bands.
CB: It's just that so much of it is based in the high end, the cymbals and the feeding guitar sound.
M: Right. My guitar doesn't do anybody any good.
CB: Well, it sounds great.
M: Yeah, it sounds great, but it's really damaging. I always assume that the sound guy will temper it a little, but when we play small places, I sometimes make an announcement that people might want to go get some cotton.
CB: I was pretty amused when I saw you guys play with Pavement and I was standing next to the sound guy who was saying "Hmm.. what do I do?!" I told him not to worry, that it sounded great.
M: I've never really talked to a sound person after a show, but I always assume that they're pretty confounded as they raise and lower faders and nothing changes. The only time I've ever really had a chat with a sound man about the sonic quality of our music was when we played a day show in Berkeley once at the university. He was having a real big problem with the fact that we had a top head on the bass drum, and was just telling me that it was going to sound big and boomy.
Amy and Matt: Duh!
CB: Are there other bands from that era that you guys feel as strongly about as the Who?
M: Sure, the Kinks, the Knickerbockers, the Eyes, early Stones the Pretty Things... And I'd never really listened to the Beatles much before a couple years ago, except for the White Album and the only reason I listened to that was because I'd read the book Helter Skelter. I went backwards, I decided to go back and discover more of the history of rock. So starting with the Beatles and then into the early Who and Little Richard and Bo Diddley and all that kind of stuff. So for the last two years or so, I've been trying to discover more of the classics or oldies or whatever. But not really mod stuff.
A: See, I like it all. I like German mod, I like Spanish mod...
M: So Amy's a mod, and she rides scooters. But to apply it to the band would probably be a misnomer.
CB: You've written songs about your scooter.
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A: Yeah, it's cause I don't have a boyfriend, I don't have anything better to write about.
CB: So you're rockers.
A: Hey man, I ain't no mod.
CB: You're not going to work any ska into your sets?
M: No, no no.. not any time soon.
A: Ska isn't mod, it's scooter boy. Rude boy.
CB: I don't know anything about it. I figure it must be easy to play with all these punk bands playing both. So have people told you often that you sound British?
M: I would say that we don't sound British, but that people probably perceive that we sound British. I remember being back in Albuquerque at a show and there was some girl there who said, "So, do you like Oasis?" and I said, "No, I think they suck." And she was like, "Really? Because you kind of have that Oasis look." [laughter] And I was like "What are you talking about!?" It's so confusing to me.
A: But see, that's Matt, I basically listen to nothing but British rock. Not Oasis and that kind of stuff, but like Television Personalities and the Eyes and Wire.
M: I mean when you say British rock it kind of implies that you're talking about bands that are around today. I mean, Black Sabbath is one of my all time favorite bands and they're from Britain. Jesus and Mary Chain are from Britain, Stereolab, and that kind of thing.
A: When I think of British music, I sort of think of it as this sort of inside joke. Like all these people singing about
things like Shepherds Bush and really sort of... nevermind. I mean, British music is so lyric, they sing about much more hum drum... English culture.
CB: Well, I think of bands like My Bloody Valentine, Jesus and Mary Chain, some of the Spacemen Three, they're all British.
M: But then there's Unsane, you know. The first Unsane album is really good. Now, they're just kind of like bad metal, but that first album is really cool, with a lot of the same stuff, you know, the bass distortion and the really screaching guitar, wah-filtered guitar.
CB: Oh yeah, what's this we're drinking?
M: It's this Chinese medicinal wine. There's this liquor store on Stockton between Washington and Jackson...
H: Just tell `em you want to get fucked up and they'll point at this box.
M: They'll say "This'll fuck you up, Joe."
CB: And it comes with a shot glass?
M: Yeah, right in the box.
Henry's Dress discography:
"Pig" on Terra X Magazine Vol. 2 CD Compilation
"1620" & "Stumble" 7" I Wish on I was a Slumberland Record
"Feathers" split 7" with Tiger Trap on Slumberland Records
"You Killed a Boy for Me" & "Sally Wants" on Why Popstars Can't Dance compilation on Slumberland Records (vinyl only)
Henry's Dress 10" ep on Slumberland Records (CD includes Popstars comp tracks)
"All This Time for Nothing" split 7" with Flake on Omnibus Records
Bust `Em Green LP on Slumberland Records
"Over 21" & "Can't Make it Move" tour single with Rocketship on Slumberland
Write to Henry's Dress c/o Slumberland Records PO Box 14731 Berkeley, CA 94712
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