Monthly Partnership with Block Magazine
Feature Article by Cameron Brindise
Photos by Judith Levitt
There's a spectacle at the track today. Horse handlers leading the stray to the starting gate, ugly jockey's grabbing the reins, snorts from the animals, tension in the gamblers, there's an undeniable energy surrounding us. I'm quiet outside but inside I'm raining heartbeats at this scene. Suddenly, from the loudspeaker to the right, Proton Proton plays, shouting at us, grabbing our attention and turning the race into a damn mud-house..
Bodies slapping up against each other, sweat-flying bullets through the stands, horses on two legs spitting blood, wine spilling from the mouths of the rich, lightening, thunder and boom!
Proton Proton began when Minnesota gave us the voice in Paul, Connecticut spit out the drums with Jarrod and the great state of Maine delivered us "the gass" from Aron. "The gass" is a bass guitar with guitar strings and bass strings, each going to corresponding pickups and amplifiers. "I wanted more than what a bass alone could offer," says Aron. This idea and the band itself began from improvisation and the thought that a big sound can come from only a few players.
With three men, an uproar is made. "The drums are able to open the music in one direction and the vocals open it in the other direction, but both are supporting and feeding off the gass," states Jarrod. Using "the gass" as the backbone to their sound, it becomes both a rhythmic instrument and a melodic instrument. This is something different. "Sometimes I feel that Aron is playing bass drum lines with the bass strings and snare drum lines with the guitar strings, so that what I'm playing is like a percussionist with his 'drumset,' " explains Jarrod. "But at the same time it's the melodic center of the song."
In many ways, you could call their music a minimalist approach to sound. "I'm much more interested in what the possibilities are within a limited structure or form," says Aron. "We're always working on how we can maximize our parts to achieve the most effect." Think Fugazi but add and take away at will parts to the whole.
The music feels sudden, spontaneous, like an unexpected sound, a consistent turning of events. Much of their music is created through recording their improv sessions and simply relearning how to play the sounds. This goes for the lyrics too. "The words in the songs are not necessarily preconceived, they're mostly improvised. A better suited term would be 'released,' " says Paul, the mouth-box. For these guys the vocals are just another instrument used in some songs, "Mars," excluded in others, "Two Words."
Following with their impromptu style is the fact that they record as they go along, there in no grand plan; it's very much an impulsive music. With these modern day clean-cut sounds we hear, Proton Proton is at variance. "We're trying to make creative music that's a little to the outside of what's going on and we're not afraid to try different things," says Aron. You can sense this uninhibited quality in their music; you can tell you're not going to expect what happens next.
It's not all un-thought out though. "We want to make music that has an effect on people," says Aron. "Music that makes us happy," glees Jarrod. "It's called music, but I call it mental survival," says Paul, "or something." I can imagine that the girls shaking their asses and the guys jumping and slamming doesn't make it all too bad either.
The future holds winning horses, much gold in tight pockets and more bloody rainfalls for the men. There are tornadoes in stadiums, dirty clothes and the grit and grime of desire. With two EP's in the bag, their third is thought to be finished in a few months. As far as their hopes go for the forthcoming, Jarrod hopes to ride a musical unicorn and Paul hopes to diminish it happily. Check them out on December 23 at The Knitting Factory. It's sure to be a spectacle.
Articles presented with permission from Block
Magazine and can be found in their monthly section of Uproar.