Honestly, I knew I was in for a wild ride when I asked Netherlands to write this post for us. If you’re still unaware of these guys, let me introduce you: they’re from Brooklyn. They make a kind of poppy sludge that takes Torche and feeds it through a grinder, belching it out some sort of neon pink, noxious and incredibly groovy weirdness from the other side. They’re also don’t take themselves too seriously, infusing plenty of their music and its surrounding aesthetics with lots of self-deprecating and society-deprecating humor. Oh, and they’re also incredibly hard-working, having released an album and an EP in the last two years and now gearing up for Black Gaia, which comes out on the 24th of August and a tour with none other than legends Mastodon and Dinosaur Jr. You can head on over to their site for dates and a pre-order thing.
But for now, now that pleasantries have been exchanged, stay a while and listen to what makes such a beguiling band tick. Included below are not only their picks for influential albums (picks which include Janet Jackson alongside Daughters) but also tales of high school (complete with embarrassing photos), nicknames like “Moon Daddy” and a whole goddamn wallop of rock n’ roll, love of music and other such pleasing things. So what are you waiting for? Take a deep breath and dive into the Anatomy Of one of the most exciting, hectic and earnest bands out there today. See you on the flip side.
Ava Farber of Netherlands
Janet Jackson – Rhythm Nation
It was 1990. I was in the 6th grade. And Janet Jackson was my life. Like, I mean, my fucking LIFE. I was leader of the alto section in the Leander, Texas Junior High School choir; and the end of the year talent show was upon us. It was clear to me what I must do. I had a vision. I had a mission. Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation was God and I was the prophet! I gathered my troops, or rather, I begged, harassed and eventually wore down my basketball teammates Kristal and Amy into being my back-up dancers. I studied Janet’s every vocal nuance. I wore down the grey carpet in front of the VCR, dancing along to the Rhythm Nation music video until I had pieced together the perfect choreography to bring to my battalion.
“This is boring,” Kristal would say.
“Shouldn’t we be getting back to class?” Amy would say.
“This is Janet!” I would say. “It HAS to be right!”
Much to my chagrin, all the cool jackets, hats and mind-blowing accoutrements of Rhythm Nation were nowhere to be found in the hills of this small, Texas town. Unfortunately, I wasn’t “in” with the goth kids yet. Nevertheless, Amy, Kristal and I pooled together any and all neon work-out gear we had, and with the addition of a few accessories from Target, we had a full-on, razzle-dazzle production in our hands!
At long last, the big day arrived. I handed my karaoke cassette tape over to Ms. Herrera, and our three-woman squad marched in perfect unison onto the stage/dilapidated basketball gymnasium. I looked out into the sea of cowboy hats, sweatshirts, perms and crosses under the haze of greenish fluorescent lighting, and I sang my little 11 year old heart out. Kristal and Amy hit every single mark! We were on fire! The crowd erupted into applause when we finished. Even mean ol’ Mr. Ross came up to us to congratulate us afterwards, visibly moved.
I went to sleep that night with dreams of a great destiny ahead of me.
A few months later my mom surprised me with tickets to the Rhythm Nation tour coming through Austin. This was a massive treat. My mother was a single parent and worked very hard to provide for us. There really wasn’t much expendable income for stuff like this, yet she valued what it meant to me.
When I wasn’t dancing up and down the stairs of the arena, I sat next to my mom squeezing her hand. Janet sang to us about social injustice, poverty, ending racism, and love. Aside from taking in her fantastic, timeless music (and just the general bad-assery that is Janet!), something else was happening to me as I sat there. I began to have a sense that maybe music was something that really could change the world. Janet had certainly changed my world. This album had infused in me a kind of stubborn optimism.
I suspect it was this rose-tinted certainty that helped fuel me through my mother’s passing three years later, and gave me the balls to go “on an escapade, baby” to New York soon after. And now… in this big city of dreams, I force grown men into pantyhose for a living; and have all the cool, dark, Rhythm Nation-esque attire a girl could wish for!
Joel “Moon Daddy” Willis of Netherlands
Daughters – s/t
Among many, but one of the most intense musical discovery moments for me was when I heard the 2010 self titled release by the band Daughters. I had been a fan of theirs since my early teens. I remember really enjoying their take on noise/math/grindcore. Something about it was just super fucked-up sounding and it resonated with the side of me that needed an outlet for those feelings, I guess. So, in 2010 when they came out with their new album, it had been about 4 years or so since they released their last album, Hell Songs, which I really enjoyed. I kind of expected the usual thing from them (which I liked very much). But as soon as the first song “The Virgin” started playing in my car, I absolutely lost my shit. I started swerving, I was head banging so hard with no regard for anything in that moment that I almost rear ended someone (I was 19 at the time this record came out and that pretty much just speaks for itself, I think).
Anyway, zero car crashes and about four songs later I make it home. No one else was there, so I put the album on again at full volume and pretty much just start screaming bloody murder while it played. That shit pumped me up so fucking much and STILL does. When I finally calmed down enough to realize the cops had been called, I went to answer the door expecting them to search my place because that’s what bored Southern cops do, and I figure right about now would be a GREAT time for my girlfriend to come home from work. (I lived with my girlfriend at the time. While she went to school, I apparently just played drums, smoked weed, and had psychotic episodes to new music that I really liked).
So, the cops are basically like, “We need to look inside to make sure no one is being fucking murdered. What the fuck is wrong with you?” I explain that I’m just really pumped on this album and that I was so caught up in the moment I didn’t realize how my actions were being perceived by my neighbors ( and frankly, I couldn’t have given less of a shit about that part at the time.) They come inside and see that no one is there but me. I play them some of the music. They basically tell me to go fuck myself and start snooping around the apartment. This is when my girlfriend gets home from work and it’s like, “What in the FUCK is going on?!” She yelled at me so bad (which I completely deserved), the cops decided that was punishment enough and left. We broke up not long after that. I’m pretty sure it was completely unrelated…
Anyway, that album fucking rules. Great production and direction over all. It changed my views on noisy metal bands forever. They still had the insane crazy grind noise math chops or whatever you want to call it, but this album had an actual better sound than previous ones, and they added this strange element of pop structure to their writing. I don’t mean like, top 40 bullshit, I mean hooks and turnarounds that make the hairs stand up on your neck, paired with getting punched in the face repeatedly by an emotionally unstable bulldozer/human hybrid abomination, just trying to make sense of the fucked up world it was born into. Also, the drum sound on this record is one of my favorites EVER.
Daughters just released a new single called “Satan in the Wait”, it’s great, and I’m super excited to see them on tour this fall. It looks like a new album will be out soon, the first in eight years, since my little “episode”. I should mention that I’ve completely chilled the fuck out since then. Ha!
See you at yoga on Tuesday.
P.S. “Cheers, pricks!”
Chealsea “Thee Chuq” Wierbonski of Netherlands
I grew up in a small town in West Virginia, and if you were any stripe of “alternative,” you were automatically subsumed into the local punk rock scene. Because Morgantown was directly on the route between Washington, D.C. and New York, bands from (and traveling between) both of these cities, stopped off to play at the local punk rock bar/all ages venue. All the great punk rock and hardcore bands came through town – Circle Jerks, DOA, Government Issue, Nomeansno, Fugazi, Dag Nasty, etc.
My entire punk rock world was turned upside down, however, during my freshman year in college when I went off to Europe, took ecstasy for the first time, and danced all night at the SW1 club in London. And for the next 9 months, I listened to Orbital’s debut album (aka The Green Album) non-stop. What fun, dense, sprawling drugged out excellent-ness! It invoked a completely differently culture and headspace and I had never heard anything like it (+ I could also dance to it without the fear of being crushed.) And it had a similar ecstatic “lose-your-shit” vibe that punk rock had.
After listening to guitar and traditional “song” driven rock music for so many years, the lack of narratives, along with all the incredible sounds was super exciting to me. And in retrospect, I realize that another semi-conscious appeal of it was that it wasn’t as “bro-centric”; because it was new, open and still yet-to-be-defined, It didn’t (appear to) have the legacy of men in the power/performer positions and women as the follower/groupies. In this new musical context I could be intense without having to be angry, and there was also no pressure to adhere to any sort of dogma (be it straight edge or some other form of punk rock ideology)… and in many ways, it was actually less conservative.
So… I functionally abandoned rock music and completely immersed myself in acid house, Detroit techno, drum and bass for the next eight straight years (I deeply rock out again now though, obviously).
Timo Ellis of Netherlands
The Cars – s/t
OK: the record that had the biggest impact on me as a young person was easily The Cars‘ first record and that story goes as follows:
I was at a summer camp in Maine, which I did for a few years pre-teen, and there was this sort of lanky, hippie water skiing instructor/camp counselor named Dave who worked there, who owned a Camaro, and who used to just hot dog around the camp. He kind of had balding/stringy hair and a long beard, and at the time we all thought he was like the coolest/weirdest guy ever but he was probably only in his late 20s. Anyway, he was known for just rocking out all sorts of interesting music, and on the way to some local baseball game a few of us just got a ride with him over to the game in his car and on that particular day, he cranked “Good Times Roll”, the first song from the first Cars record. I basically had a borderline religious epiphany/ecstatic freakout, from how fucking incredible it sounded. He had a massive sound system in his car, and played it really, really loud.
It just sounded absolutely monstrous, sublime, incredible! It apparently had everything: sci-fi drum sounds and propulsive, rock solid drumming, killer guitars, weirdo choral vocals, enchanting/mystical keyboards, and overall just felt like impeccably created and produced music. To me it was fucking PERFECT. It was kind of like getting really high for the first time? I was stunned, and more or less immediately became obsessed with The Cars, and with that first record, which in my opinion is (still) a back-to-back fucking masterpiece.
That record had already been out for a few years at that point, but obviously was completely fresh/novel to me, and made a searing, indelible impression on my then 10-year-old mind, and also I think made its way into the DNA of (most of) the rock music that I’ve made since then. I also had the good fortune to see them live, with my mom, at Madison Square Garden in NYC around six months later, on the Panorama tour (with XTC opening up, who I vividly recall had weird video projections of simple patterns, like plaid, covering the entire band and stage). Anyway, The Cars remain seminal/the godhead for me (at least through Shake it Up, where they kinda lost me.)