I read the phrase “New York City noise-rock” with the same furrowed brow as any concerned
music enthusiast, but Twin Stumps are reviving that tag with the intense gusto bands
like Swans and DNA had shown some twenty (wait, thirty) years ago. I enjoyed the Market
Hotel live performance that I caught, but the debut Dais Records 12″ really set a new
standard for this sort of thing in the modern era – seemingly skipping over the 90s for any
sort of influence, Twin Stumps weave the noise textures and harsh environments of early
Broken Flag tape comps into a gnarly form of rock song, anchored by deliberate and
pummeling percussion. There’s no shock-jockery here, rather Twin Stumps allow the
listener to fill in the blanks, which yields far more satisfying results. They’ve got their
debut full-length on the way via Fan Death, and if I’m to believe these guys, it sounds
like it’ll be spending plenty of time on my turntable this year.

How did you guys get together? Were you all friends prior to Twin Stumps,
or what?

Alessandro (vocals): We’ve been friends for years, we all went to college together. About
three years ago I moved back to NY after going to school in Chicago. Mike and I were
sharing an art studio and we were hanging out and listening to music there all the time.
One day we were just saying how awesome it would be to start a band. Mike got a bass
off Craigslist, our friend Zach had a basement to practice in and a drum kit, and he knew
how to play pretty well, and I didn’t really know what to do so I just screamed into the
microphone. Then Allen moved here from Baltimore and he had been doing noise stuff
with his guitar already, so he just started playing with us. After about six month of just
dicking around we thought we were doing something interesting and we started playing
out. And here we are today.
Mike (bass): We figured as long as we had a drummer who could play, we’d sound like a
real band. The rest of us never really played music before. Just noise.
Allen (guitar): Mike was just about the first friend I made at college. Everyone I’d met before
him only wanted to pull off to JRR Tolkien and watch Michael Moore documentaries. Then,
I was kicked out of school for a spell, and moved to Baltimore. Eventually my college
let me back in and I returned to New York. Mike said he’d been thinking of starting a
band with Zach and Alessandro, and I told him I wanted to be involved.

Was there any specific reason the four of you decided to give it a go as a “rock” band,
rather than continue to exclusively make noise?

Alessandro: So many people make noise with guitars, it’s just more interesting for us to do
that and have a really good drummer and then try to make the bare bones of a song. It’s
more challenging. But ultimately I think we really just wanted to be in a rock band because
it looked like it would be fun.
Mike: It seemed more dynamic and exciting at the time. We didn’t want to be another knob-
turning noise group that was boring to look at. Most of us had never even tried playing rock
music before. I was astonished at myself when I realized I could keep a beat.
Allen: Noise music as a genre comes with a lot of hubris and a whole lot of politics. Noise music
is connected to electronic music. We’re still making music tethered to a traditional
guitar-bass-drum configuration. I’m intrigued by that point in time when many of the
progenitors of what we call noise, or at the very least industrial, turned away from
strict electronics and towards a more psychedelic, noise-based guitar sound. Like Matthew
Bower’s progression from what he was doing in Pure to what Skullflower became. Or
the similar direction Ramleh went in. Or even the music of Terminal Cheesecake. This was
music with one foot in industrial or noise, and the other in the rock idiom.

With the type of music you make, so many people describe it as “hateful” or
“brutal” or “deranged”, adjectives of that nature. Is that how you perceive your
own music? Is it intended to be as ugly as people are viewing it?

Allen: I don’t think we’re particularly hateful. It’s not like we’re an NSBM or RAC band. You
won’t find us worshiping the white god or hitting women anytime soon. If people find
our music abrasive and ugly, that’s great.

What force, outside of music, has had the most profound effect on the band?
Alessandro: Drinking beer.

Are you always in the same mental space when you perform? Like, is there any specific
mindset that you find yourself in before performing, or does it vary?

Alessandro: I go into a certain state of mind when we do a show, it’s very hard to describe,
but every show is different. I think the audience is the biggest variable. What comes
of a show often hinges on what kind of presence the audience has or how much they choose
to interact. The space also changes the performance. There’s a different vibe I respond
to in a cramped basement as oppose to a stage in a big venue.
Allen: I like to perform when I’m in a good mood and know that people I give a shit about and
respect will be there. I loved playing the AVA House in Philly with Drunkdriver and Leather
because both those bands are fantastic, and the show gave me an opportunity to catch up
with some friends from out of town.

Who’d you rather play a show in front of – a crowd composed entirely of your parents
and grandparents or a crowd of all of your ex-girlfriends?

Alessandro: Entirely? That would be awkward, mainly because it wouldn’t be a whole lot of
people there. But I really wouldn’t care if my folks or some ex-girlfriends were at
a show. It would probably be more uncomfortable for them than it would be for me.
Mike: Parents and grandparents.
Allen: Ex-girlfriends. I have more ex-girlfriends than I have parents, so at least there would
be a handful of people there. A very small handful.

How does your upcoming album differ from the 12″? Are there any significant changes
that you’ve found, either during recording or after listening to the final product?

Alessandro: I think it’s really different in many ways. Our songs seem tighter, the overall sound
is heavier and we tried a lot of new things for better or worse. There’s even moments
on the album that are almost quiet. There was a little more control exercised over this
album than the 12″. The 12″ was recorded in Ben Greenberg’s basement in one day,
while Seedbed was done over the course of a few days in his new studio, with new equipment
at our disposal, situated in the basement of an old convent. It’s a huge basement with
lots of empty rooms and we tried to use the space in a few recordings in order to get different effects.
Allen: Seedbed is a much more dynamic record than our Dais release. I love our 12″ but it does
plateau somewhere in the red. We had a better idea of what our strengths and limits were
with the new record. Ben has just been such an asset to us at each step of the recording
process. We’re incredibly comfortable recording with him. If the record succeeds in any regard,
it is due in part to Ben’s contributions. The record’s faults remain our own.

What is the significance behind the title?
Alessandro: We tend to prefer titles that suggest something unseemly rather than ones that
are more blunt or over-the-top. Allen came up with Seedbed. It’s not really related to the Vito Acconci
thing, were he masturbated in a gallery, but there’s nothing wrong with people choosing
to make that connection. We also just thought it was interesting how there’s a certain harmony
between the title and the photograph of Allen’s head on the cover.

Are there any local bands that you feel a kinship towards? Comrades in arms,
so to speak.

Alessandro: Yeah, fortunately there are some great bands in NYC that we love and love to play
with. Drunkdriver, White Suns, Pygmy Shrews and Pop. 1280 to name a few. We tend to all
get lumped together as being “noise rock” or something but all those bands have very
distinctively different sounds.
Mike: When we started playing together we didn’t really know of any bands in Brooklyn that were
in the same vein as us. It was mostly just bearded hipster day-glo bands. A couple of months
later a couple of us stumbled upon Cutter at some house party in Bushwick and later White
Suns and Drunkdriver at another show. After that, we met more people and bands that
had the same taste and a little scene developed, which was nice.
Allen: Cutter’s first show in Ben’s basement, and then the Drunkdriver / Mattin live collaboration
at Silent Barn remain my two favorite performances from any contemporary NYC acts.
Landlords is another band doing great stuff along similar lines as those mentioned above. They
don’t really get the attention they deserve.