Although it's just a 2 hour drive, New London, CT is far enough to be just that. Far. It is however a place where my dad was stationed in the Navy on the USS Fulton during the late '60s/early '70s, and the place where my parents got married. So it will always be a little dear to me. Here is my chat with Brian James Albano of the Suicide Dolls who play in Boston as regularly as a Boston band and call this their satellite home. Or as Albano (not Captain Lou) says: "Boston is great. The music scene and communtiy has a real life and energy to it. It's like finding that girl you are ready to settle down with."
Their current line-up of Albano on guitar, Michelle Montavon on bass and Matt Covey on drums has been together since 2006. Read on to hear Albano's life philosophy, to hear him make up words and to hear him dish on the Suicide Dolls' maximum rock & roll.
JD: My folks used to live in New London. My dad was on the Fulton back in the day.
BJA: Yeah so you know New London then, city by the Long Island Sound, sub base, the city Benedict Arnold burnt to the ground when he betrayed the colonies, hahaha.
JD: What's it like there? My dad used to regale us with tales of Patsy's Grinders long gone. What's the music scene like? I don't think Boston musicians know much about it.
BJA: Yeah! Patsy's Grinders! I remember that when I was a kid. New London is pretty cool. It's smack dead in the middle of New York and Boston, so it's a great starting place for roadshows or tours for us. It's also a great place to bring bands who are touring and need a stop in between dates at NYC and Boston. New London is kinda like if you took Allston and put it by itself right next to the Long Island Sound/Atlantic Ocean.
For a small town/city, it has a very productive and artistic community. Within one mile you have four music venues that are extremely active, art galleries, independent records stores, DIY music venues/art shops, and colleges on each side of the city (Connecticut College and Mitchell College). The place has a strong sense of creativity. There's a lot of bands here, and each band sounds different than the next, there's no cookie cutting going on. Bands love to pass through New London. The crowds are great, they treat bands well.
We were really allowed to be ourselves here and develop our sound, which helped us as a road band mixing with other cities, sounds, and scenes. Boston bands like Pretty & Nice, 28 Degrees Taurus and Ghost Box Orchestra have recently played New London. Boston bands should check new London out. It's alwasy good for a band to grow by doing road shows, and new London could easily become a second home to boston bands that desire to roam and travel.
JD: So, let's talk about the album. Prayers in Parking Lots--when did you put it out?
BJA: We just put it out back in March. It's been getting a lot of good press in blogs and print. It's tough as we're experienced in being a live road band, but now we're learning to promote an album. Short answer, March.
JD: Tell me your greater philosophy of life, including music, love, God, death and wisdom.
BJA: Hahaha....I'm so chatty, I was getting ready to answer. I'm not cool at all, so I'm never at a loss for words.
JD: Lets just start with the guitars. Why do you play so bloody loud?
BJA: Energy for one. I guess angst for another. We live in a crazy loud world, and the guitars need to reflect that. Plus if you are loud all the time, then when you are quiet, it's even louder.
JD: The first song kinda reminds me of KISS. What do you think is really diffrent from what you do, and good old fashioned American butt-rock?
BJA: Our songs, at lest for this album, are a rhinosaurus (sp) of energy & emotion and the guitars and music have to reflect that. There is a lot of old-fashioned American rock, we grew up on that, and we mix rock and pop. But what seperates us is we also add in punk and we also add in noise. The lyrics are less are the "let's party" and more "the house the party's in is on fire." We're not telling you everything is all right, we're telling you everything is wrong but could get better if you just gave a damn for one minute.
Plus one second we're a regular rock band and then next we might tear a song down and go into a noise explosion and start taking screwdriver and drumsticks to our guitar strings. Or tear the rock song down with a noise storm and then, you know, build it back to the old verse/chorus/verse/chorus.
JD: Why do you think that rock musicians need to differentiate? It seems like there is a pretty perfect template laid down already. While I get what you are saying, I am thinking more in general about how rock musicians do sort of think they are all different from one another---yet for someone raised on classical music, they may hear the loudness and just think it all sounds the same.
BJA: I don't think musicians need to greatly differentiate, just slightly. In slightly differentiating yourself you'll find your own voice, you'll keep things straight. I think a musician needs to have a strong hold of the basic template, because it works and sounds good. Musicians should have influences, learn from those influences, but it's good to strike out and cause a warble in the known and true. Freak it up a little. I never though sit down and decide "I'm going to do something completely different." I start from the est and true and then if going off the trail feels right, I do it.
I don't think we're supposed to like the same things, but I do believe there's a common thread even between people like James Taylor and Sonic Youth. It's like humans. we think we're vastly different from each other with the different races, but when they got down to the genes, it's all the same. I really don't think I'm different than other musicians. As a matter of fact, I try to consider everything. Pop, rock, punk, noise, prog, whatever, I try to mix it all in there because I like it all, just sometimes mixing can lead to mud--in this case loud sonic mud that I love.
JD: What's a song on the album that you would alert me to if you wanted to show me the more cerebral side of the band? Be that compositionally, or sonically? Also, which one should I put on my jukebox?
BJA: Well I guess "Smash" for one. We made an epic pop-rock-noise track. It has hard rock riffs in it, punk energy. We wanted a song that unfolded into many different styles as opposed to just playing two part back and forth over and over again; yet we wanted to still make it catchy, as catchy and as simple as you could make a 7:20 minute song. The words are very cryptic, but were meant to be unraveled and solved. We wanted to take the listener through a series of catchy and noisy riffs, but drawing you and pushing you away. In the middle we tear the song apart, get quiet for a second, take you to a sonic wasteland, then the noises build into a 'bang,' and you're back in the rock.
The one I would put on the jukebox would be "Senses." It's a real catchy number, and by design. It's the don't bore us/ get to the chorus track on the album. I would also put on "Brand New and Close By." If I was at a bar and wanted a song that was going to bust out with energy, catchiness, yet still have this out of nowhere noise solo that would make people who don't like noise say "hey maybe I like noise!!" it would be" Brand New And Close By." It's angry, but it's also fun. It's hungry!
The Suicide Dolls
Friday, July 20th
O'Brien's Pub, 9PM
with the Migs, Velah, Quiet Loudly
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About the authorJonathan Donaldson is a Boston-based musician, writer, and second-generation music junkie. An Ohio native who moved to Boston in 1998, Jonathan's musical loves include R&B, psych, punk, bubblegum, country, electronic, More »
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