We were enjoying the single "Red Flags" just the other week from Bushwick's The Library is On Fire, and today we present the debut of the video for "Fly on the Painting". From the upcoming album Halcyon and Surrounding Areas slated for release April 15, Steve Five and the gang gather up a cornucopia of chords like a selection of paints to cover and tag the blank walls. From their TLIOF HQ digs, watch as their four-track recording concept comes to life where the lo-fi meets splashes of living colors.
Dressed in his finest t-shirt best and a pair of shades, Steve allows himself takes on the role of the canvas and the proverbial, "Fly on the Painting". With the help of friends with Solo cups filled with liquid food coloring, confetti, silly-string assaults, pies to the face and background doodlings; the entire music video becomes an action art installation. As the situation pushes through in an increasingly messy farce, the lives in the painting break through via recreated "Double Dare"-like disasters encouraging the listener and viewer with the tape recorded nod of, "you can do it too." The resistance poetics and guitar-go-go completes itself with a view into a hazing ceremony of endurance.
Steve Five from The Library is On Fire talked with us their self-described 'derelict pop,' their upcoming album Halcyon and Surrounding Areas, French La Resistance poet René Char inspirations, and more.
Tell us about the experience of recording your upcoming album Halcyon and Surrounding Areas.
None of us had recorded an album ourselves before so there was a bit of a learning curve — luckily both Travis (bass) and I are fairly knowledgeable recording engineers (Travis is an audiobook engineer for Simon & Schuster, and I’ve run live sound for Ex Models). It was nice to wake up in the loft and make coffee and just work at our own pace, recording in our pajamas and slippers and what not. We had total control over the sound and infinite time to experiment. This record sounds exactly how I’ve always wanted a record to sound, ever since I was in high school and listening to Helium’s Dirt of Luck and Breeders. It took longer than a conventional recording process, but in the end it’s a very satisfying feeling.
Like the poem of your band's namesake, what has attracted you to the works of French poet René Char?
Well he’s a very terse yet intellectual poet. He chooses his words carefully yet quickly, and that gives them a certain condensed power, a shuddering immediacy. I try to keep that idea in mind while writing lyrics. There’s also a certain vulnerability, or ephemerality, in his words, even though he sounds so authoritative. He was obviously a genius. Most of Leaves of Hypnos was written while he was hiding behind trees, or in abandoned houses, and getting shot at by Nazis as part of La Resistance. He’s a war poet, a very masculine man. I think in 2014 in the U.S. there’s a faction of people who consider it almost embarrassing to be a straight male, that whole ‘angry cis male’ thing or whatever. And don’t get me wrong. I’m all about smashing the patriarchy, definitely. But for some reason, I identify with Char. You know, as the other Lebowski said “strong men also cry…strong men…also cry,” [laughs].
The video for "Fly on the Painting" is like pitting the painter as the fly that gets caught in the Pollock work. Were you going for a literal interpretation of the title here?
Ha, that wasn't conscious, though I can totally see it construed that way. Our decisions for the video were mostly aesthetic. The song is sort of derelict pop, as our drummer Cory Race put it. It was written stream of consciousness, I actually wrote it one day last spring in the studio of the painter I work for. An art crating company was coming to pick up a painting so I basically just had to be there for an hour and I banged the song out. In that way its about not hesitating to act on your creative ideas. Have an idea? Fucking do it! I guess maybe its also about dying while in the process of creation, but like, literally dying, ha ha. Like that Emily Dickinson poem. I heard a fly buzz…
Give us the report from the Bushwick scene.
Sadly, I think I’m pretty fair in my assumption that guitar rock seems to be dying, or if not dying, temporarily waning, at least in the current musical landscape, and especially Bushwick. Right now it seems like dance music and different genres of electronic music are the most vital and vibrant genres coming out of the neighborhood. Dust is rad, Greem Jellyfish. You go to these parties and feel like you’re at a rave with Felix Gonzalez-Torres in Manhattan in the 90’s. We realized this when we were trying to think of bands to play shows with. The band wasn't fully active for 2012 while I was making an experimental film with Todd Tobias, and we spent the last year writing and recording, so I’m kind of out of the loop, and there might be a lot of indie/guitar bands in Brooklyn — actually I honestly don't know – but I’ve only seen a handful — like Life Size Maps, Celestial Shore, Christines to name a few — really putting out new work lately. I heard a really interesting remix of Tammi Terrell’s “All I Do is Think About You” at Bossa Nova the other night. That’s one of my favorite songs of all time. I was surprised to hear a really wobbly weird house mix of it – it seemed incongruous, but it worked.
What are your spring/summer plans with the forthcoming release of Halcyon and Surrounding Areas?
We're playing March 30 at Death by Audio with Anwar Sadat, and a record release show in the middle of April. We’re booking a tour for mid-May right now, and we'll probably play Rockaway Beach this summer.
Halcyon and Surrounding Areas will be available April 15.