Take a moment and define post-punk in your own view. Many people won’t even come to a vision of what that would look or sound like. What can sound like the “doom and gloom” side of music to some, can often be found held in the high esteem of true fans who connect with the genre and the genuine emotions on display in this style. There’s absolutely no mistaking the music of the post-punk sound and Teribalanamal hold their own unbelievably well. If you’re a fan of that edgy and slow-burning emotional intensity that recalls the iconic sounds of the greats like Joy Division or The Cure (Like ME) – then be sure to check this interview out!
You can pretty much quote me on this permanently – it’s unbelievably rad when the people making the music you like are equally cool. Ryan (Vox/Bass), Chalky (Drums) and Stephanie (Guitar) literally have a lock on how to write in this genre, delivering track after track of music purely identifiable as both what they like and what they DO. And they do it WELL.
And to prove those doubters of the genre wrong – you know what? They’re not all doom and gloom and depression and despair in behind the scenes of the music. Maybe the genre has been misunderstood by the masses for a very long time, and the representatives of post-punk are all just extremely well spoken like these three here in this interview.
What else can I say? We BONDED. I dig Teribalanamal. Whether it was talking about the misunderstandings of the post-punk world or the icons of the golden era of grunge – it was a complete privilege to talk to these dedicated and skilled musicians. Read on!
Interview with Teribalanamal
SBS: Teribalanamal – hello and welcome! You guys definitely found the right person to interview you! The Cure is one of my two all-time favorite bands, I see them listed in your influences but more relevantly – I can HEAR it in your music. Take a song like your track called “Turkey” – the guitar tone is perfectly matched to the sound they made so famous. In this track, because the sound was so familiar – I could see people rushing to all kinds of comparisons to the bands you yourselves have listed in your influences. Is there a difference between playing inside of an influence and copying a style? When using a sound so familiar and identifiable to a particular band, does it lead to a struggle for your own identity at all?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): Although we don’t directly seek to copy a style that is so iconic, we recognize that it has very much influenced us. It is a subconscious homage and a way to introduce our own musical identity by reworking it to express our own experiences for a new, contemporary audience.
SBS: No lie guys – you are NAILING this sound through and through. The opening of “Garuda” is pretty much what I’m hoping for ANYTIME I push play on someone’s new track. I’ve always found post-punk to be one of the most interesting genres based on the simple fact that many people love the music, but 95% of them wouldn’t know to identify it to the “post-punk” genre! In any event – you’ve clearly chosen to go after this particular sound…somewhat against the grain of mainstream music today. Is that a gamble at all in today’s internet world? Do you necessarily need to tap the mainstream vein and have your music played in malls and banks (etc etc etc) or is there a different definition for success through music?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): Thank you! We don’t set out to create music to appeal to a mass audience. If it happens, that’s great. We define success by having the ability to express ourselves. The added bonus is if what we do appeals to people beyond our circle of friends and family!
SBS: Between the artists you listed that you like and are influenced by, there’s enough to fill a personal hard-drive! You’re clearly well versed in the music you play and the history of music overall – let’s get the history from you guys – what sparked your interest in music? When did it become an obsession?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): We all share a love of the visceral aspect of playing live, loud music. It’s cathartic. The obsession has been there as long as I can remember. I’ve always been particularly interested in outsider music and ideas expressed by atypical musicians, i.e., people who you wouldn’t necessarily expect to make music.
SBS: I gotta use this knowledge to my advantage! Please allow me to pick your brains! I know that you’re all new to our SBS world – but some of our followers know that I have been seeking a valid Sonic Youth fan for some time now…not just someone that likes them a bit but someone that swears by them! And I’m looking at this vast collection of artists on your lists on your pages…thinking to myself…these are the people that HAVE the knowledge I’m looking for!
Cause here’s the thing: I truly WANT to be a Sonic Youth fan. I grew up into Nirvana and grunge in my pre-teenage years – but Sonic Youth was a struggle for me. Strangely enough – they were one of the first four CD’s I ever bought (I couldn’t then and never did buy just one…) – but that’s where I’m thinking I went wrong. The album from Sonic Youth that I purchased was Daydream Nation. I found the album lifeless and boring…flat in both production and energy. I listened to it maybe ten times in total…then never again. Not only did I put the album away – I simply never went back to Sonic Youth. I would go on to hear songs like “Bull In The Heather,” and “100%” – which to me sound completely AWESOME and had all the missing energy I felt was missing on Daydream Nation.
What I want to know are two things: 1) Honestly – where DOES that album stack up in the Sonic Youth catalog? Was it one of the better or worse ones in your opinion? 2) Someone point me in the right direction! Give me a top five Sonic Youth track listing and your favorite album (Ooooooooo! And tell us WHY!)
Teribalanamal (Ryan): I can’t profess to be an expert on Sonic Youth, but I have seen them live quite a few times and read the Goodbye 20th Century bio– I recommend it for a thorough understanding/history. Daydream Nation is definitely an iconic album – I think I bought a cassette of it in the 8th grade. I loved Teenage Riot the first time I heard it on 120 Minutes… but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite SY album, although it is one of their more cohesive works. They are actually a great singles band – they showcase the best parts of the albums. I’m particularly drawn to the more rhythmic no-wave-y tracks, especially the earlier albums like Confusion is Sex and the first EP.
Here are my top 5 favorite tracks:
Making the Nature Scene – Probably my favorite track off the Confusion is Sex album. It captures the urban decay of early 1980s NYC as well as the best parts of the band’s early no wave sounds.
Teenage Riot – One of the first SY songs I heard. It’s quite catchy, has great melody and lyrics.
Washing Machine – I love the vocal delivery on this. It’s been stuck in my head for years.
Burning Spear – Another good example of their early rhythmic no-wave-y sound. I think Lee Ronaldo played a power drill on this one.
Into the Groovey (technically Ciccone Youth) – An unexpected pop song and probably the best Madonna cover ever.
SBS: Brooklyn has always been well known as a music city…at least that’s what I’ve heard from all the way over here in Canada – is that the case? What’s the best musical aspect of Brooklyn in the present day?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): You’re right. Brooklyn is an artistic hotbed that supports local artists and helps create communal spaces to express and showcase new music. There are over thirty DIY venues in our neighborhood of Bushwick and nearby East Williamsburg alone! Having so many supportive and diverse musical outlets embraces what we do and ultimately helps us reach new audiences.
SBS: Your band, created in 2012 and now over a year old – we’re just jumping into YOUR world as well! Can you fill us in on some of the highlights from that first year? What have you experienced and learned? How have you grown as a band?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): One of our best shows was a house party at Chalky’s old apartment. We played some projections behind us and had a fog machine as well I think. Unfortunately, the neighbors complained and we had to end the show early. I think we’ve gotten an idea of how booking shows works – it’s kind of harder than I thought. Venues are mostly interested in how many people you can bring in, so it’s kind a challenge in that regard, but overall it’s been really fun and we’ve played with some awesome bands. As a band I think we know each other better now and have more fun at practice, which helps with playing and arranging songs.
SBS: “Demoralizing online dates and hookups,” in your words – have led to the formation ofTeribalanamal. Rough times and tragedy often lead to some of the most brilliant works of art and music that we as humans can create – don’t you think?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): Definitely! Some of the best art comes from adversity. I guess it’s a way of resolving issues and making sense of your experience.
SBS: Music has always been about timing “they” say. You know, the ol “You have to be there at the right time” bullshit. I don’t believe in bad timing with the right promotion. What I do believe in, is the musical landscape shifting. As great as it has been to become part of the electronic age and see music develop that way through computers and whatnot – I believe that shift is coming soon once again. I think the people out there that are looking for bands making it happen with guitar, bass and drums are about to rise up again pretty soon to take back what was once theirs. What about you guys though; what do you think? Does timing matter still in music? Or has it always been more of a matter of waiting for that shift in the musical balance to come around again?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): I guess it’s kind of like that expression, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” hahaha …But I guess timing does matter in terms of certain music being recognized or popular if it captures the zeitgeist of the moment and place. I think music also shapes culture as well, so I guess it can work the other way around…
SBS: I know my studio partner Rob @ SBS would not be pleased with me if I heard drum sounds as rich in pattern and tone as yours and didn’t ask about your kit Chalky. There are some amazing drums happening in these tracks you’re writing – so nerd-out for us for a second and tell us about your drum kit! What are you using and how have you made it your own to make the sounds that drive the beat in Teribalanamal?
Teribalanamal (Chalky): I guess I just play what I think is going to sound good in the songs, a lot of the songs I just redid Ryan’s drums (from drum machine) the best I could. I just don’t want people to think of the drums as being generic. As for my kit, I don’t currently own my own full kit. I share one with dudes in my practice space, don’t quite know what happened to my shells but I own my own cymbals and a couple snares. All are pretty basic zildjian starter pack and a Tama wood snare. I really don’t know much about drums, I’m still learning but I just try and keep it fun and interesting so no one gets bored with the songs…
SBS: One thing in common with many of the bands you’ve listed as influences – is that they stood up against many injustices. The grunge and punk movements of course taking the issues of politics many times straight on, whereas the post-punk movement was much more self-reflective and focused on emotional injustices and human rights. Would you consider your music political in any way? Do the politics of the USA ever interfere with music?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): I wouldn’t consider our music political, but I guess like they say, everything is political. I’ve definitely been inspired by bands with political messages and believe it’s important to keep that element alive. I just watched the Pussy Riot documentary on HBO, which I thought was really inspiring.
…I’m sure politics do interfere with music, though I’m not certain to what extent. I read this book by Ian Svenonious called Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock’n’Roll Group that kind of discusses politics and music. I think it was saying rock’n’roll was kind of a western/capitalist propaganda during the cold war (I’m probably not saying that right)… it’s a pretty good read for rock’n’roll enthusiasts.
SBS: What IS important to you to say to the world? Ryan I’ll ask you this one direct as it’s your voice I hear fronting many of these songs. Lyrically speaking – how do you approach your writing? What’s important to get down on the page in terms of lyrics for one of your songs?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): I wouldn’t say we have any specific message we want to get out. For me, the best music presents a point of view that maybe hasn’t been heard before, so I guess that’s what I’m shooting for. I don’t think music has to necessarily make explicit statements – it can be more evocative. In terms of words, I’ve been inspired by films, books, TV, etc. as well as experience. The first song on our EP “Ice” was kind of written after I watched that Al Pacino movie Dog Day Afternoon – it’s based on a real story of a guy that robbed a bank to help pay for his partner’s sex reassignment surgery. “Mourning Dove” was written when I was going through a Stevie Nicks phase. There’s a song we haven’t recorded but play a lot (“Shuttlecock”) that’s kind of a mix of Kenneth Anger, Jean Genet and Mob Wives, though you would probably never guess that just by listening to it…
SBS: And Stephanie – don’t think I haven’t noticed you there – I noticed you there first! Women in rock have always been a glorious thing. Again, being attracted to the grunge circuit led me to discovering an incredible source of powerful females making incredible music. In fact – I’ve got my ticket to see The Breeders coming up here in August and it blows my mind. These women of that era, Kim & Kelley Deal, Tanya Donnelly, Kristin Hersh, Kim Gordon…the just all seemed so POWERFUL to me – but in a very kind of subdued way. They never brought attention to it – they just did what they did and never thought twice about beating the odds in what was still largely a music dominated by the men in numbers. So those are some of my own personal heroes from the women in rock; Stephanie – who do you look up to?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): I share your reverence for the female founders of grunge and alt rock. However, it was actually Kurt Cobain who spurred me to pick up a guitar in high school. I was only introduced to the riot grrrl movement and major female players of the rock scene like Sonic Youth, Hole, The Breeders, The Pixies, etc. through discovering Nirvana. I understand the irony of being exposed to female-driven rock music through an all-male band. But that’s just how it happened for me. I think it speaks volumes about Nirvana’s ethics and musical ideals that they exposed their fans to showcase important talent in the scene who just happened to have a strong female presence. It also helped that Nirvana were staunch feminists. When I saw someone like Courtney Love play guitar, with one leg up on a monitor, it just encouraged me to keep playing. I knew there was a place for me.
SBS: Once again, being just a year old TA – I’m counting on the fact that much of your history is still fresh in your mind! I’ve taken a look to see what’s coming up for live shows – I see things listed for May and for June – we need an update on that social media board! But we’ll leave you to that. What I want to know about is the first show you all played together as a band. I know that’s a particular event in a band’s timeline where they learn an INCREDIBLE amount about themselves and what they’re capable of. Reach back a year or so for me – what came out of that night and performance and how has it helped shape you onstage since then?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): Our first show was at Goodbye Blue Monday in Brooklyn. We played there because it was easy to book. I personally just kind of wanted to get through the first show without screwing up too badly. I think we’ve loosened up a bit since then.
SBS: Tell me about unity and band solidarity. You’ve found yourselves and the sound you want to make – but what are the bonds that will keep the three of you together making music over time?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): We get along with each other and respect our individual backgrounds, input, and opinions! This is an often underestimated aspect that some bands choose to ignore and later suffer for it. You can eventually find folks who share your musical passion. However, if you can’t communicate, if you can’t hang out and get a drink post practice and you have nothing else but the music in common, there is a slim chance that you will be able to survive as a band for very long.
SBS: I was watching a live video that you had posted. Again – I’m continually blown away at just how closely you’ve matched this sound. You can see Stephanie playing that guitar – Ryan’s got his Simon-style bass from The Cure rockin through the whole track as well and of course Chalky keeping the beat interesting in the back. I loved this era of music. I know that people who DO know of post-punk have typically felt it is both depressing and boring, if they’re not fans of the genre. Why do you think that is?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): So many of my friends tell me that was exactly what turned them off to the genre. However, for me, post-punk has evoked the right combination of emotions in such a simplistic, stark way it instantly attracted me. I respected it for its nakedness. No frills, whistles, or bells. Just raw emotion. It takes a lot of courage not to hide behind a wall of noise, but instead to reveal who you are and what you are feeling- and that it’s OK not to be happy 100% of the time. How couldn’t anyone relate to that?
SBS: How about as far as visual representation goes? Onscreen – what’s important for you to show the world? How do you want the music to speak visually?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): I’ve asked myself this question – one of the things we do is incorporate video projection into the live shows when possible – I think it adds an extra element, especially since we are all kind of tied down to our instruments. The videos are just spliced up movies of stuff I found on the internet; I usually try to have a theme… but I think we definitely should try to develop the visual representation a lot more. It’s not something that comes naturally to us, but do recognize its importance.
SBS: The first and only time I had seen The Cure was here at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, BC Canada. The set just absolutely blew my mind – I kid you not they played for nearly three and a half hours! They kept it very simple – elaborate lights but no real major effects or anything out of the ordinary, completely letting the music speak for itself and the large career they have spanned. Starting out can be hard for a band in a live setting; a lot of the time you deal with poor sound mix, no lighting at all or no ability to add effects or visuals due to finances or simple restrictions. But suppose for a second none of that was a factor and you could do whatever the heck you wanted to onstage. What’s the ideal set-up look like for you to play the best show you could play? What kind of venue and what’s the vibe in there?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): Our ideal setup most definitely involves stage monitors (you wouldn’t believe how many venues do not have any or enough available). It is crucial for each band member to hear what is going on to follow their music cues and keep stage communication open.
SBS: I’ve asked you a TON about the music you know about. Tell me something that I don’t already know about the music you’re making. We’ve got the six tracks online but I am soooooooooooo musically greedy it’s shameful! When do we get MORE?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): We have a ton of new songs waiting to be recorded, however due to financial limitations, we’re saving up to record them professionally.
SBS: Tell us about the studio or jam space that you recorded those first six tracks in. What was the atmosphere like and why was it the ideal place to record the music of Teribalanamal?
Teribalanamal (Ryan): We recorded the EP at Saltlands Studios in DUMBO Brooklyn. It was the first time recording in a studio for Stephanie and me, so we were a little unsure of what to do. Fortunately Stephanie’s pals Sal and Danny helped us record it and did the mixes as well, so that was a great help. I thought we did pretty well to record 6 tracks in 10 hours – we were pretty focused.
SBS: And how about Canada? Have you all got any plans to come and see us across the border anytime soon? Canada would dig your sound – promise!
Teribalanamal (Ryan): Thanks! That would be awesome. We love Canada as well – Canadians definitely seem more open to different types of music, art, etc. As soon as we can, we will be there!
SBS: Websites! Where do you guys want the people to come and find you? If they go to these places or send you a message – will you respond direct?
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): We’ve diligently covered a variety of different social media sites and web outlets for fans to find out more info about us or send us a message. From the major players like FaceBook and iTunes to other popular web online arenas like Soundcloud and ReverbNation.
SBS: TA – I want to thank you all once again for being part of our experience here at SBS. Stephanie, Ryan and Chalky – keep doing what you do. I personally believe that when a sound is as true to form as yours is – that the world can always use MORE of it – so please continue on your path! It really was like going “home” listening to your music. It brought me right back to the first night I ever discovered post-punk. Yep – another story about The Cure for ya here (Sorry guys!) – but I had just signed up for “Columbia House” – the online deal where you get like, 14 tapes or something for 1 cent. I was trying to impress my cousins and step-brother and I had ordered an intense amount of truly shitty metal. Stuff I wouldn’t listen to then OR now. It was just bad.
But in that wonderful first order were a couple of hidden gems that I snuck in – still unbeknownst to me. But Disintegration was in there, by The Cure. I put the tape in the deck of the summer trailer I was staying in, all the doors open wide through the night and the stars out bright over Osoyoos in the interior of BC…the chimes of “Plainsong” began to play in the background into an explosion of mind-altering emotion caught recorded. Changed my life. I just wanted to say again, personally – THANK YOU for sending me back to that place in my mind.
Here is the open floor of SBS. Teribalanamal – once again, it has been awesome to have you with us and we look forward to hearing from you in the future. Take this opportunity to shout out or say anything else that you wanted to talk about that we didn’t cover, or that I missed in this interview. Anything at all!
Teribalanamal (Stephanie): Your appreciation for the genre and for up-and-coming artists like us shows in your warmth and enthusiasm. Thanks for giving us this platform and for making us feel welcome. There are countless times when we can get discouraged or even question why we do what we do as an artist. Whether we experience a less than desirable sound from a venue or struggle to get exposure. However, enthusiasts like yourself remind us to keep forging ahead and prove that there are genuine people out there who understand the language of our music and want to continue in this sonic dialogue!
Thank you Teribalanamal!