Brooklyn trio EULA explore the boundaries of post-punk to an abrasively sexy degree… from the traditional, morbid intellectualism of the godfathers of the “movement” to the noisy, dissonant, and often downright scary experimentalists associated with post-no-wavers to the transgressive playfulness of Riot Grrrl… and many of the things in-between. Next Tuesday sees the release of the band’s sophomore effort, Wool Sucking (produced by the legendary Martin Bisi), courtesy of frontwoman Alyse Lamb’s art collective, Famous Swords. And next Saturday, March 7th, EULA will find themselves at our very own Girard Hall. I recently got a chance to catch up with Alyse, who told me all about how she and her crew have evolved since they released Maurice Narcisse in 2011.
Izzy Cihak: You’re about to release your sophomore LP, Wool Sucking. How do you feel like the album compares to your previous LP, Maurice Narcisse?
Alyse Lamb: When I first began writing songs, they were intimate, bedroom recordings that focused heavily on mood. I was really interested in pushing tonal boundaries that bordered on painful. When I got to college, I wanted to perform live. I passed my demos around and EULA eventually became a 3-piece with bass and drums (Jeff Maleri and Nathan Rose, respectively). The chemistry between us created a whole new character that was daring and visceral. The songs on Maurice Narcisse are dynamic, heavily percussive, and very physical (There is no way I could’ve written the bassline to “Maurice” without my walls shaking.) Things changed dramatically when I moved to Brooklyn. My songwriting became as it once was – intimate, with a heavy focus on mood and tone. I wrote Wool Sucking entirely on my guitar, on my floor, in my tiny apartment. The challenge for me was to arrange these songs to be played live, without losing the intimacy… and still keeping that visceral edge.
Izzy: Do you feel like there is anything significantly different about you as a band now, compared to the band that recorded your first album? Or was it just a natural evolution?
Alyse: Our first album, Maurice Narcisse, came out of a sort of playful, loud, physical place. The material was a bit lighter. There was also more room for collaboration since we had the time, space, and luxury to fuck around. The new album, Wool Sucking, was born out of my demos and written from a singular place. So yes, very different. We’ve gone through some lineup changes as well. Stephen Reader has replaced Nathan on drums and we have Kate Mohanty (from the Neue Avant-Garde Project) playing controlled chaos on saxophone.
Izzy: Were there any experiences in that time that you found to be especially inspiring, or just fun (or the opposite…)?
Alyse: The first time we played New York, it was at some awful club in Manhattan. The other bands left before we played and the sound guy was our only audience. I thought it was pretty hilarious. But then the anxiety set in, like, “Is this what it’s like to play New York?! WHAAAAAAT?! How do we do this…” A few months later we played Monster Island [Basement] in Brooklyn and I felt like my whole world changed. There was this incredibly tight group of people making art and throwing shows. I wanted to stay there forever.
Izzy: Do you have a particular favorite track from your latest album, whether one you’re most proud of or one that’s most fun to play? “I Collapse,” is my favorite track of 2015 so far…
Alyse: Thank you. “Orderly” is really fun to play live… I get to crash around on stage with it. “The Destroyer” pricks me pretty hard; it’s a song about loss of love.
Izzy: Since Wool Sucking was produced by Martin Bisi, who has a super impressive resume of great records under his belt, I’m curious: How was it working with him? What do you feel like he brought to the album?
Alyse: I can’t say enough good things about Martin. When you’re eight hours into a session, he’ll make you laugh when you’re about to cry, he’ll wake you up when you’re about to pass out… and he’ll push you when all you wanna do is cave. He digs in deep to understand the vision you are trying to attain. He has a specific process of tracking, recording, and mixing, so I learned a lot of new tricks too.
Izzy: For that matter, do you have any favorite records that he’s produced… in addition to yours?
Alyse: There are so many… Martin’s worked with Ambitious Lovers, Lydia Lunch, Swans, Afrika Bambaata… the list is ridiculous. All are my favorites.
Izzy: So you get compared to legendary Riot Grrrl and Post-Punk acts regularly– which are, admittedly, two of my favorite musical movements – but I’m curious, what are your actual favorite musicians or musical movements? I feel like I’ve met a lot of bands recently who are regularly compared to acts they only have lukewarm feelings about.
Alyse: I took ballet for many years so classical and impressionist music seeped deep into my bones. Erik Satie is one of my favorite artists. My mom took me to a lot of musicals and operas as a kid, so I was exposed to a lot of dramatic music. In the house, though, things were shakin’ – there was a lot of Michael Jackson, Sade, Madonna, and Prince being played. My sister and I would dance for hours. But then my brother would start blasting Wu Tang or Tribe Called Quest and I fell in love with that too. Around 12 years old, I saw PJ Harvey’s video for “Man-Size” and all hell broke loose. It was dark, heavy, percussive music with a commanding, strong, female voice. I fell in love immediately. I begged my parents to get me an electric guitar. It’s difficult for me to hash out a list of my favorite musicians of all time (the list would be really long), but I can’t live without Arthur Russell, Edith Piaf, Wire, Kate Bush, Frank Ocean, New Order, Chad Van Gaalen… Devo…
Izzy: You have a handful of upcoming live dates, including a March 7th stop in Philly. What can be expected of the live show this time around? You’ve become quite infamous for your live performances… Is there anything in particular they draw inspiration from?
Alyse: We’ll be on tour for most of March supporting the new album. Girard Hall is our stop in Philly on Mar 7th. Reeeally excited to play there. The live show will contain the layers and textures that you hear on Wool Sucking, but the dynamics will be pushed to ungodly limits. As far as inspiration goes… I guess my years of dance/ballet have inspired me to be physical on stage. But I don’t actively think about it.
Izzy: Finally, how do you hope and plan to spend 2015?
Alyse: I co-run an art collective (Famous Swords) so I plan to design a lot this year. I hope to play a lot more shows, both here and abroad… so it will be a year filled with creating, writing, performing. Lather, Rinse, Repeat.