Playing Fanboy with Chris Broom of Laughing Fingers

Zack Wilks

The first I heard of Laughing Fingers wasn’t their music; it was a detail that I had to include in a post about the Exploding In Sound-released Mattress Financial/Fond Han split cassette Private Split. The two groups were embarking on a small tour, and included on the bill was a band called Laughing Fingers. They only had one release on their Bandcamp then, an EP called Haller Meets the Machine. It’s an EP that any fan of Exploding In Sound can get excited about. Within the first 10 seconds of the EP’s opener, “Everything is Bark on a Tree”, it becomes clear that Laughing Fingers can’t just be characterized as a “’90s throwback band.” There’s something more–the recording has this visceral punch and energetic pull that’s only found once in a while. The EP’s other standout, “Rube Goldberg” (about the cartoonist/inventor), has one of those try-not-to-sing-along hooks. Seriously, try not to sing along with lead singer Chris Broom when he sings, “Ruuuuuuube Goldberg.”

Really, the surprising thing was that Laughing Fingers was a new band. And they are actually incredibly new, formed in late January when Chris hashed out his new tunes with drummer Ian Taggart. The duo has played a bunch of shows in the Brooklyn area recently, though that’ll be changing soon.

Chris is also releasing an EP of soft-spoken solo material called i am not so pollyannaish, and its first single, “doctor roberta”, can streamed side-by-side with Haller Meets the Machine (though I recommend not at the same time).

We caught up with Chris in the backyard of his Williamsburg apartment and talked about Exploding In Sound fandom and recording with Julian Fader and Carlos Hernandez of Ava Luna. Also: some bad news for East Coast folks and some good news for West Coast folks. Check that out beneath the embeds.

The only stuff I know about you is through your Twitter—which is kind of lame, but I guess that’s how you find stuff out these days—and you recently graduated college, right?

Yeah, I went to NYU. I just graduated from the Gallatin school there, just this past May.

Oh that’s exciting. So you’ve been doing Laughing Fingers throughout college? Or is it a more recent thing?

It’s actually a lot more recent. I think I more officially started in December or January maybe, and then I started practicing with a drummer in late January—and that’s Ian who I played with. And then really quickly we started playing a bunch of shows and I had recorded with Julian [Fader] and Carlos [Hernandez] over at Silent Barn. I had been really into the Palehound EP where they played the other instruments for her. So that’s kind of helped me out a lot.

Also it’s super cheap.

Yeah, that’s pretty important.

I was wondering is that what you were going for—to have them play the other instruments? Or did that just kind of happen?

That just sort of happened. I hadn’t really met them before at all actually. But I was obsessed with Krill’s Lucky Leaves and then after I saw that they had played for Ellen [Kempner of Palehound] on her EP I was just like, “Shit, I need to contact these guys.” And I was into Ava Luna and stuff so it was just kind of cool that they agreed to do it. But then pretty much from there on Ian and I have been playing and writing songs, and we just recorded this other EP over there that we’ve been trying to finish. It’s just three songs, but that’s with Ian this time and it’s just the two of us.

So no bass? I couldn’t really tell what your live band was gonna be like because I listened to the EP first—before I . . . I actually haven’t seen you guys yet. I’m hoping that I get to, eventually.

Yeah, hopefully. I actually have sad news to bring about it.

Oh man! Oh no—but how does that work in a live setting? Just because it’s just the two of you. And the EP itself is so textured. Like there’s a lot of bass and a lot of different guitar tones layered on top of each other and that sort of thing.

I always feel—I never really know how it matches up I guess because I’m not really one to know how to use pedals or anything like that. It depends on night. Sometimes it’s very barebones and we did a tour recently where some nights we would just sort of play a lot more stripped down versions of the songs and just focus on the melodies a lot more. But Ian has a way of playing drums that’s a little bit more technical a lot of the time. Like very jazzy in a way, sort of. I feel like the live set ends up being this kind of weird boozy mixture of just everything kind of chaotic but coming together in a way.

What drew me to you guys was “Everything is Bark on a Tree”—just the opening riff to that and I was like, “Oh shit! Why aren’t they on Exploding In Sound?” Because you guys sound like you belong on that roster. Do you write with that sort of thing in mind? Or were you just writing stuff that you liked?

I think I had been obsessed with a lot of the stuff they were releasing. I had kind of been aching to write some heavier songs in a way. And I think I’d just been listening to too much Pile and Kal Marks and Speedy Ortiz and stuff. Which is all good stuff. But before that I had been doing—never really releasing it—just a lot of bedroom recordings that were more Lower Dens sort of stuff that’s kind of more like ambient or trails off a little bit.

So sort more like the new thing you’re gonna release?

Yeah, the new thing’ll be sort of like this mixture of Laughing Fingers and some of the stuff I was into a lot before.

So you said you have bad news? Does that mean you’re going to start focusing on the new project more?

Our lease is running up here pretty soon. And I kind of got the touring bug, I guess. Just being gone for a week earlier this summer. And I’m just afraid I can’t really do a lot—like I’m going to be tied to the city a lot just trying to pay my rent and stuff if I’m here. So I think I’m going to go out to the West Coast for a little bit. I think just indefinitely. I don’t really know what my plans are, but right I’m booking a West Coast tour and I really want to end up in Seattle or something like that, by the fall or something.

That’s not bad news—that’s bad news for me because I really wanted to see you guys!

Both Haller Meets the Machine and i am not so pollyannaish are available for pay-what-you-want on Laughing Fingers’ Bandcamp.

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