If you read our recent Band To Watch feature on Young Jesus, you know they are… a lot. Which is partially why I like them a lot. LA-based Midwest transplant John Rossiter thinks very hard about life, and that concentration reflects in his band’s music, an off-kilter version of indie rock that manages to be both visceral and contemplative.
The band is issuing its first album for Saddle Creek, The Whole Thing Is Just There, is out next month. Having already given us one lo-fi video for opening track “Deterritory,” they return today with another for the evocatively named “Saganism Vs. Buddhism,” which follows directly on the tracklist. This one’s a seven-minute drifter that exists in the wide open Pacific Northwest spaces between early Modest Modest and early Death Cab For Cutie. Opening lyrics: “I have begun seeing with my third eye/ I have begun investments with my dad/ I have begun contacting various mystics/ I have begun buying rocks in stores.”
In our interview, Rossiter spoke about what the hell is going on here, though I’m not sure this will clarify much for you:
That was a dream I had. I woke up in the middle in the night and wrote this phrase, “Saganism vs. Buddhism” on my hand. And then I woke up the next day — “What the fuck is this?” I guess to me, Saganism — and this is a reductive view because Carl Sagan is a great person, and very interesting — was totally empirical, science for the sake of progress, sort of an Elon Musk style. And Buddhism, which is not necessarily the right response, was very appealing to me at the time. I thought of them at odds with each other, but now I feel different about it.
It was also this idea of looking to the stars for an answer when I really think — and this is an odd tangent, but there’s like so much anxiety about surveillance right now. People who are at no risk of state violence, but want to let it be known they “would fight if given the chance,” the sorta mainstream liberal zone. But to me, in reality, most people or a lot of people that are posting about this — [mockingly] “this is so fucked up” — might feel that they want a life that’s worthy of surveillance and that encourages more people to be radical, when in reality, the stuff that really changes the world is small actions, small kindnesses and cooking food and listening to your friends and having important discussions and trying to be a part of the community. Not to say that direct action isn’t important, because I truly believe it is. It’s just not my bag. They need to feed each other. So looking to the stars for this sort of grandiose, “When is everything gonna get solved!” I always feel like it’s not gonna get solved, and it’s gonna be a conversation between these two things.
See? A lot. But Rossiter is nothing if not self-aware. At Brooklyn Vegan today, he adds, “I take myself pretty seriously sometimes and in this song I wanted to turn the lens around and look at what I’m doing when I do that. I’m no mystic, no oracle, no rivers and mountains poet, but I am trying to live consciously, making mistakes all the time and I can laugh at that a little hopefully.”
The song itself winds through a number of twists and turns, and the band’s self-directed video — a lo-fi parody of YouTube tutorials — tacks on an extra minute of non-musical introduction. So feel free to skip straight to the song and commence the jamming below.
The Whole Thing Is Just There is out 10/12 on Saddle Creek. Pre-order it here.