That poker forum thread in which Steve Albini mystically appeared to dish, rather curiously, on his prolific past as indie-rock studio god was a veritable treasure trove of too much information to process — but that doesn’t mean we didn’t try. The poker players were surprisingly well versed in the annals of Albini lore, and of the many worthy queries, we checked later to find two were answered with the same band name.
Q1: What bands have you worked with that deserve to be heard but have been overlooked?
Q2: You recorded Icarus by “The Forms.” What do you think of them? Are there any bands you would recommend to a fan of The Forms?
Answer to both: The Desert Fathers. ‘Gum love for Icarus runs deep, but it took Albini casually mentioning the Desert Fathers’ as the Forms’ “alter-ego” to send us excavating, and we dug what we, dug. Steve’s got his shit together — who knew, right?
Turns out the Desert Fathers feature the Forms’ drummer Matt Walsh (aka Acquaman) and lead singer Alex Tween, and Alex was good enough to shed some light on the DF and give some context for the Forms’ forthcoming, anticipated long-player. Jump for some Q&A and more Forms/Desert Fathers MP3s.
Alex Tween (aka Ecco Teres), Vocals/Guitars, The Forms/The Desert Fathers
STEREOGUM: Surprised to see Steve drop props to the Desert Fathers twice in that crazy poker thread?
ALEX TWEEN: That was really nice of him. [The Desert Fathers are] darker / weirder ( i.e. more like his own stuff) [than the Forms], so it’s not too surprising.
STEREOGUM: So what’s the status of things with the Desert Fathers?
ALEX TWEEN: It was a shame with the Desert Fathers because we were definitely pretty happy with what we did, but I think it was largely a casualty of various circumstances at the time. To date we’ve always released all of our projects on our own label Threespheres (including the new Forms album, though that is being distroed through ADA, which I believe is what Merge and Saddle Creek use). At the time we thought the album would do well because The Forms’ album Icarus had recently come out and sold a few thousand copies despite us having no idea what we were doing, it being our label’s first release. But the release of the Desert Fathers album happened to coincide with the high-profile bankruptcy of our distributor The Telegraph Company. We had leaned on Telegraph a lot because we were all on tour all the time and couldn’t tend to the day-to-day business of a label very effectively, it being the days before wifi on interstates. So once the Kindercore disaster and subsequent bankruptcy started happening, basically the whole support system behind the releases at the time fell apart, not just for the Desert Fathers album but others too, and so it pretty much got hung out to dry. The bankruptcy contributed to putting our label in a financial hole that it took years to recover from, which is largely why it’s taken a few years since the last Forms album (ha this is really sounding like a CYHSY flipside DIY horror story).
STEREOGUM: The Desert Fathers stuff seems to take elements of the Forms record into more bizarre and experimental directions. Couldn’t have helped trying to get word out on an “out” record with your infrastructure slipping out from beneath…
ALEX TWEEN:The Desert Fathers Album is legitimately pretty strange and maybe was just too much for people, though it did manage to develop a small cult following of people who were obsessed with it, and they tended to be the weirdest people you’ll ever meet. It made the tours fun in a way because there’d usually be some nightly adventure involving some insane person from the show.
STEREOGUM: How did the Desert Fathers, um, form?
ALEX TWEEN: Matt (who plays drums in the Forms) was originally a guitar player but only decided to learn to play drums because we couldn’t find a drummer. And with the Forms he was really only writing the drum parts and needed an outlet where he could do his own music. And plus being a drummer ( i.e. violent, probably crazy) what he was doing was on a different, more acid-y head than the forms and so it needed to be its own thing, although it turned out pretty collaborative (I did vocal parts for 5 songs and helped organize/edit/mix everything).
STEREOGUM: What’s the present state of the Desert Fathers, then?
ALEX TWEEN: With the Forms gearing up for the new album, that band is on hiatus, though Matt is as we speak recording an album in Illinois with the band First Nature, which is a collaboration between him and the Desert Fathers’ bass player Keith Malone (click here for MP3), who is the main songwriter for that. It’s all very incestuous (there’s even other bands we’ve done like a hundred thousand and by symmetry), everybody helping each other make their ideas take form, and then more often than not releasing it on Threespheres!
STEREOGUM: The new Forms record sounds amazing. Any more info on that? Title, release date, etc.?
ALEX TWEEN: It looks like it’ll be coming out on 10/23 via Threespheres (digitally before then) with ADA distribution via Rebel Group. I’m really happy about it because it’s pretty much major label distro, but we don’t have to answer to a label boss who’s going to pressure us to do appearances at T.G.I.F. nor are we stuck in some nightmare long-term contract, as it’s only for this album. And the album is self-titled.
And we are psyched for said self-titled album. We’ll get you a listen of The Forms ASAP — for now though, here’s some more Desert Fathers…
And some killer Forms stuff from Icarus…
Remember NYCers, the Forms will be playing the South Street Seaport for free with the National on 8/17. Also just in case you forgot, they love 90210.