Don’t listen to Scott Churchman’s second self-titled album (that’s not a mistake) alone. It’s spooky. The slow, calculated Matmos-meets-Poltergeist thing going on in the music, coupled with Churchman’s forelorn voice, will make you begin to think someone is watching you. And it could be some of the same spirits that haunted the home, built in 1750, Churchman recorded the album in. At the very least, “Make You Scream” will make you feel personally threatened. Assisting Churchman are members of his other bands, Ape School and Folklore, and various friends like Kurt Vile and members of the Lilys and Whales and Cops. We started a couple sentences and asked Churchman to fill in the blanks. You’re about to read them. But first, what’s that behind you???
The way I approach music in the bands I’m in (Ape School, Folklore) and in the solo setting is ... “Very different. In Ape School I play guitar in a way that I normally don’t. Real ‘electric guitar,’ I guess. It’s a lot of fun. And in Folklore I play bass, which was my main instrument, so I just play along and try not to be noticed. When it comes to my own songs I’m just recording constantly and seeing what happens. In the process of wrapping this album up I recorded another album. It’s an obsession, I feel useless if I haven’t done anything new.”
Things people might miss the first few times they listen to Scott Churchman is ... “There is hope hidden somewhere. For instance, there’s a song called ‘On A Mountain’ that everyone thinks is about murder or something. It has a line that says ‘I can’t wait to fight with you,’ and it talks about being on a mountain and only one person coming down. but to me it’s a love song. The only one-person-coming-down line is just pessimism.”
Some bands I’ve been listening a lot to lately include ... "A Roy Orbison cassette called Ride Away. I’ve been listening to that on repeat for months. It’s such a quirky recording. The New Heaven and the New Earth’s All Saints Day is one of the best things to come out of Philadelphia in the past year. It’s nice to hear someone else around here making miserable music.”
Once I got so blasted on (whiskey/beer/weed/pills/etc) I ..."Don’t remember. My birthday is halloween, and I get all bloody like a zombie almost every year. By the end of the night I wind up on the floor while everyone else has left for another party. I figure it’s all part of the costume.”
When you upload my album in iTunes it lists “Rock” in the genre column. But what it really is is ... “Evil. I hate when people ask me what kind of music I make. The first two responses are usually ‘slow’ and ‘dark,’ but a lot of friends swear it’s pure evil. When I listen to the people that I love like Leonard Cohen or Low or Nick Cave, they have this comforting warmth to them like it’s hugging you. I just try to make music that feels like it’s hugging you.”
Sat., April 10, 8pm. $5. With Romona Cordova, the New Heaven and the New Earth + Snow Caps. The Ox, Second and Oxford sts. myspace.com/theoxphiladelphia
Browse Janelle Monáe’s press clippings and you’ll notice the same words keep reappearing: oddball, quirky, eccentric, kookie.
PW's Music Issue 2014