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A Dirty Dozen with DAVID ROUSH of ECCE SHNAK – April 2019

| 23 April 2019 | Reply

 

According to a recent press release: “Ecce Shnak is a seven-person outfit – two guitarists, two “chamber singers,” a bassist and drummer – to play the music David Roush composes note-for-note. The band will release two new efforts this year, Joke Oso, on April 5, and Metamorphejawns, this summer. Billboard stated, “In the span of about 20 minutes, Joke Oso encompasses punk, ska, twee indie rock a la Belle & Sebastian, rubbery goofball funk in the tradition of Frank Zappa and crunching, Meshuggah-esque math metal — all liberally sprinkled with humor.” The EP was recorded and produced by Philadelphia-based engineer Jeff Lucci of Mo Lowda & The Humble in his living room, then remixed by Bryce Goggin (Pavement, The Apples in Stereo, Antony and the Johnsons) with Fred Kevorkian (The White Stripes, Iggy Pop, The National, Phish) mastering. Ecce Shnak will be on the road through the spring, including a run of dates with Hey Guy, featuring Boris Pelekh from Gogol Bordello.” We get frontman David himself to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your latest release.  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

This question is a timely yummy, as Ecce Shnak albums are wee little Easter Egg hunts, both within and between themselves. I betcha if the stalwart Shnak-fan poked around the track listings alone of Joke Oso and our previous EP, there’d be more-than-ample colorful-ass nom-noms to go around. We’re also releasing lyrics for our new EP Joke Oso soon a.f. That will help the nascent Shnakateer poke around in the music thematically, allegorically, so on.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

My 6th Grade teacher Mrs. Helen Barnstable lead a merry group of players in a jaunty Renaissance dance in 3/8. I was charged with patting a square calfskin drum every third 8th-note. When the end of the piece surprised me, I immediately thought I had fucked it up, but almost immediately realized I had stopped with everyone else. Then, Helen and I smiled at each other.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

I grew up in New Haven, where the One, Good, Venerable Margaret Halloway (also known as Shakespeare-lady) was one of my first hints that art and music is fun, cool, necessary, and something with which I want to involve myself.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

First and foremost are my loved ones, human and other. Friend, family, pets, loves, living, dead, even some enemies. Four other beloveds, in no particular order, are: the duo of Tarik Trotter and Amir Thompson; Eugene Hutz; Harry Partch; Joe Strummer.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Holy shit–fun question! Eugene Hutz. One can never tell 100% with this, but he seems to be as kind and fun as he is talented, and oh boy, he’s a talented man. I think so, anyway. He’s a magical lyricist, with a soul that seems as noble as it is smelly. That’s how I hope to be! He’s what I’d call a “role model.” Yeah him and the Deerhoof loves.

6. How would you describe your music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

One mighty music critic, the One, Good, Venerable Roy Trakin from the Land of LA, called Ecce Shnak “chamber punk.” This is very apt! I really liked that description! I get profoundly bummed but I also understand when people say my writing is like “Broadway rock.”

7. When the band are all hanging out together, who cooks; who gets the drinks in; and who is first to crack out the acoustic guitars for a singalong?

Our band is very good at distributing tasks. Ask Sara Lin and Chelsea what to do, and then do it.

8. When was the last time you were star struck and who was it?

Happening upon him one afternoon this past summer, I waved at Charles Barkley. He acknowledged me and waved back. We then parted ways and haven’t seen each other since.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

Serving the Gods in the only way I know how to serve them. If I could not be a musician, I would probably spend a lot of my time with Extinction Rebellion, anti-fascist organizations, and other worthy causes in our imperiled time and place. Other than that, I’d play with dogs and my loved ones.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

Oh man! This question is way too sexy for its own good! What on Earth is my answer…? Maybe it’s this: “What is the relationship between themes of sexuality, death, human madness (moral/political/other), and god as explored in your music?” Want an answer? Listen to Ecce Shnak! I’m okay with questions. Most of us musicians beg for questions and rarely choose them, and I’m okay with that.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I have plenty of things I embarrassed about, but I’m kind of like Nietzsche seeing the spider crossing his window in the middle of the night: shouldn’t it have all happened the way it did? Could it have been otherwise? Might it not repeat itself over and over again exactly as it was for eternity? But I do have plenty of embarrassments. I kind of wish I had met my voice teacher, the One, Good, and Venerable Emily Anna Bridges, a little bit earlier, as I think I sometimes sound like a wookie in my old voice performances. That describes a bunch of them (but maybe that’s just, er, ah… “vocal dysmorphia,” or something… hm…”

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

I would sit in on the making of Harry Partch’s U.S. Highball (a Musical Account of a Transcontinental Hobo Trip). This album is a great example of a soul both knowing and transcending itself and its circumstances. To me, it demonstrates the fact that the funny-headed can talk. As is often said but rarely fully appreciated, the funny-headed tend to be more worth listening to than the rotation of 10,000 loquacious normie bozos that usually dominate spaces of music, culture, politics, and so on.

ECCE SHNAK LINKS:

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Todd ‘ToddStar’ Jolicoeur

Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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