Under The Influence: Cymbals Eat Guitars Lenses Alien
Despite the fact that they’re really young, Staten Island indie rockers Cymbals Eat Guitars are already the masters of grandiose, guitar-driven rock. On their new LP, Lenses Alien, they push it a little further into a bigger, bolder direction. Take “Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name),” for example. Or “Definite Darkness.” Lead singer Joseph D’Agostino and bassist Matthew Whipple recently took some time out to select some songs that they felt had a particular impact on Lenses Alien, so without further ado, here’s Cymbals Eat Guitars’ edition of Under The Influence.
JOSEPH D’AGOSTINO’S PICKS
1. Cat Power – “Nude as the News”
“Do not make sexless dude-rock. Do not make sexless dude-rock. Do not make sexless dude-rock.”
2. Wilco – “Cars Can’t Escape”
Whenever we’re belaboring a point or arguing over an infinitesimal detail in the studio, either Whipple or I will break the ice by going “gung-gung gah-gah gah gung-gung gah-gah guh-GAH” (from the most awkwardly affecting moment in the “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart” doc). Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is still my favorite album ever. Summer Teeth is up there too… I guess I prefer Pillco. Brian (HAMILTON) claims to dislike Wilco even though most every part he writes kinda sounds Wilco-y. Before we lay anything to tape I make a point of watching “I Am Trying To Break Your Heart”. So many quotables!! “If you sign HER ass…”
3. Pixies – “Tame”
My thought process for the vocals on the new record was basically like, I’m gonna limit myself to two cyberdemon howls, one ending each side of the record — y’know, to keep it fresh. Black Francis doesn’t have to worry about stuff like that though. No. He. Does. Not. I love the sexy/creepy/deranged breakdown where it sounds like Kim and Frank are approaching orgasm together. But imagine someone screaming in your ear like THAT when they come? Terrifying.
4. Deerhunter – “Revival”
I’ve been a big Deerhunter fan for some years now. I saw them at the Bowery for Cryptograms and at the First Unitarian Church in Philly for Microcastle, when they had the cheerleader guitarist. Those shows were pretty O.K., but it wasn’t until I saw them this past October at the Starlight in Philly that I really came to appreciate how profoundly great they are. Easily one of my top 5 shows ever, up there with My Bloody Valentine at the Roseland, Wilco at the Starland Ballroom, Yo La Tengo at the Loew’s Theater in Jersey City, and the Wrens at Unitarian Church. So swirling and melodic and piercingly loud and propulsive and immersive…this show made me switch from Fender twins to Marshall stacks. And Bradford Cox is the consummate showman, magnetic and charismatic. I aspire to someday be as great as these guys.
5. The Wrens/ Charles Bissell – “I Guess We’re Done”
The Meadowlands, Secaucus, and Abbott 1135 changed my life forever. Charles (singer/ guitarist for the Wrens) mentored me as I was piecing together Why There Are Mountains, and played a huge role in my development as a songwriter. Finally getting to share the stage with him last January was a huge deal for me. He was gracious enough to join us on a benefit bill for The Project Matters at Maxwell’s of Hoboken. It was an unforgettable night. In this video, you can probably hear me filling in Kevin Whelan’s absent high harmonies. Seeing Charles nail all those notes at the top of his register really inspired me to do some SINGING on Lenses Alien.
MATTHEW WHIPPLE’S PICKS
1. The Lines – “The Landing”
This song has a measured, stretched out vibe that is something we sought to capture at certain points on this record. It also has some neat atmospheric stuff that builds very patiently, which is also something we were really into. We wanted to still play with dynamics, but in subtler ways than on our last record, and to try out a wider range of possibilities.
2. Sonic Youth – “Reena”
We love Sonic Youth, particularly the stuff they’ve done with John Agnello, who produced our record. The guitar sounds on Rather Ripped were one of the first things we all agreed upon and enthused about when we first started talking about working with him. Shout out to Uncle John!
3. Spiritualized – “Come Together”
Spiritualized and Spacemen 3 heavily informed a lot of the swirling, heavy-instrumentation parts of the record. On the first record, a lot of that stuff was pretty much all about the guitar…layer-upon-layer of guitar parts for a very My Bloody Valentine type of sound. With this record we wanted to make it less about the guitar and more about the total sound that we could all create together.
4. Fleetwood Mac – “Dreams”
There were a couple of moments on this record where we wanted the song or the particular part in question to have this sort of bounce to it, and we always articulated that by referencing Fleetwood Mac. We’re big fans. Everyone should be.
5. Bear In Heaven – “Dust Cloud”
We became pretty tight with these guys on tour last year, and this song in particular became an almost-nightly ritual on that tour. Stop what you’re doing, get near the stage, and be completely blown away for a minute. It also has that patient vibe we wanted to go for with this record, where it’s about building tension with an expected but still thrilling and surprising release. Matt Miller definitely developed some of his beat ideas for the ending of ‘Rifle Eyesight (Proper Name)’ from this jam. We would follow Bear In Heaven to the ends of the earth, basically.