Aunts’ album Good Mourning Moon is very popular here at 493 Magazine (read our review), so we contacted the Indiana band via Facebook with a list of invasive questions, which the duo answered “to the worst of our abilities.” This is what they said ~
How did Aunts get started? What got you making music together?
We met at college in the same dark and shitty four-person music theory class. The professor forced us to redact the rest of this sentence. We tried to start a band in college, but our drummer disappeared. Also Matt could sort of sing like that guy from Xiu Xiu, and Alex planned on buying a guitar with the money he had earned working in a box factory.
Though our band name was originally BLOODBATH, the presence of a Swedish death metal band of the same name with a much more recognizably branded Facebook presence forced us to engage in a one-off no-wave EP under an arbitrary new name: Aunts’s Ed Schultz’s Legal Problems are Back, taken from this news article (the title of the EP, not the title of our band).
In the end, our various insecurities compounded with Charles Ives’s “The Cage” and a bottle of 1800 brand tequila, which really brought to fruition our post-collegiate, white, male, middle class desperation.
What motivated the stylistic move from Ed Shultz’s Legal Problems are Back to the sound you have now?
We liked no-wave and it was our first collaborative effort. It was a way to get started. We were having a hard time making “real music” and just needed to step aside and blow off steam etc.
One thing that really stands out in your songs is their aesthetic/thematic disjuncture. ‘Bad Thoughts’ and ‘Sex Appeal,’ for example, are great studies in pop composition (especially those choruses), with profoundly sad lyrics. Was this a conscious choice? Like, you’re saying that sad songs don’t necessarily need to sound sad to be emotionally affective?
The disjuncture between the lyrics and the composition of the songs creates a distance, maybe unsettling, certainly, at least to you, noticeable; one that, ostensibly, forces the listener to engage – that more typical sad songs participate in a sort of spectacle of sadness. By that we mean the process of mourning or catharsis or saying fuck you to someone is already in front of you, already being unidimensionally performed, the theme and content are unified, actively discouraging further analysis? Maybe? We both hate art.
On the lyrics: Their content feels vivid and true. Are they drawn from your lives at all? Who writes the songs? Is writing only sad songs personally driven, or a pragmatic decision?
Yes, and we both write the songs. Instead of giving any detailed account of our stupid depressive wallowing, here’s an approximate list of the exes that, to the best of our knowledge, each song was probably about. Track list: 1. Kelli; 2. Kelli and Cheyenne at end; 3. Aubry, Kelli; 4. Katie; 5. Aubry, Kelli; 6. Aubry; 7. Aubry, Anna; 8. No one but locked doors. Trying to open the front open door, the key breaks, freezing to death, telling my mom I am going to commit suicide; 9. Ourselves; 10. Everything, everything, EVERYTHING.
Overall none of the lyrical content was really intentional. Most of the content was culled from songs we had been working on for a number of years, and maybe the happy stuff, if there was any happy stuff, never really felt earnest in a sustainable way. The more our lives got fucked up, the more fraudulent the happy content seemed, so we let it go.
All of these observations are afterthoughts, though. Something about retrospective vs retroactive, that by retroactively filling in the meaning for lyrics, we’re sort of creating the conditions of our memory of certain traumatic events; creating a way for us to be able to separate ourselves from these experiences, just so you don’t have to drive to a grocery store thirty minutes away, because you’re too embarrassed to shop at the one four blocks away, because you too frequently purchase large amounts of alcohol there, and all of the cashiers know you by name.
Is there any specific inspiration behind the vocals and guitar work? Both are very distinctive.
Vocals – Spencer Krug, Xiu Xiu, Frog Eyes, Guitar – compositionally contrapuntal, that the two guitar parts create new melodies, clean, very few effects. Think Glenn Gould playing Bach. Also early Modest Mouse and Bloc party, Pavement, twinkly emo guitars.
What are your thoughts on the music scene in Bloomington? Have you ever considered touring?
Alex hasn’t lived in Bloomington for two years. Now lives in Spokane. We have only played one live show ever. We’re pretty fond of a couple local bands, though: Good Luck and Junior July, for instance.
Where do most of your fans come from? The internet? Or do they tend to be friends and locals?
Family and friends that we force to listen to songs. Inexplicably, people on the internet sometimes. We have 0 local following. We’ve been invited to play a couple shows in town, but we’re never able to be in the same place to coordinate it anymore. Also, one time Matt sent a link to our Bandcamp to a bartender who invited us to play a show at her house. She never responded.