Before I introduce our next interviewee, I want to take a moment to dedicate this month’s interview to three incredible artists we lost over the past couple of months: David Berman, Daniel Johnston, and Ocasek. Without David Berman, this column would not have a title. For those who are unaware, David Berman was the singer of Silver Jews who we lost in August to suicide. “Pet Politics” is one of Silver Jews’ many excellent songs; everyone who hasn’t should check them out. Daniel Johnston was an influence to influencers. He was an outstanding comic artist as well as songwriter, an artist whose folky pop tunes are truly indie in that it would be impossible to lump into one genre; they are too singular. Daniel has such a cult following that on his 58th birthday this past January, a cover album was released containing songs covered prior to the date by greats such as Yo La Tengo, Karen O, Sparklehorse, Tom Waits, Wilco, Dead Milkmen, and Beach House. Ric Ocasek was a musician, producer, and visual artist most widely known as the singer-songwriter of the rock band The Cars. Ric was a jack-of-all-trades in the music business, producing bands like Weezer, as well as playing Thank you Daniel, Ric, and David , for your wonderful contributions music. My deepest condolences extend to your family and friends.
Our next interviewee is Colin Lord, a Brooklynite who hails from Brewster, NY. Colin is a skilled bassist, guitarist, and singer. Currently, he plays guitar in Brooklyn band HYPEMOM alongside bassist Luke Santy (both share vocal duties) and drummer Matt Caldamone. The pop-punk trio self-released an EP What Are You Wearing?, engineered by Alex Mead-Fox, this past March. The following month, Colin released a series of tracks entitled Emmett under the moniker Alex in the Attic. AitA features tracks inspired by found sounds and clips of conversations, and Colin acts as a one-man-band in each song. In addition to a love of music, Colin also has had a long-time love of animals, and is a newfound cat dad to an adorable black cat named Trousers. On October 17th, they will be playing a show at Gold Sounds in Brooklyn to celebrate the release of a 2-track EP entitled We Had No Idea You Were Coming.
AF: Was there a particular song, artist, individual, band, or moment that inspired you to become a musician?
CL: Just good fortune. From early on, my folks liked music and always had Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr. and Yo La Tengo on the stereo, loud. My best friend’s dad was a drummer with a recording space where he and I could practice — it was a pretty clear-cut path to musicianship. I’m really lucky.
AF: What was the first instrument you picked up? What other instruments did you expand to from there?
CL: Started on guitar and bass, then sort of found my way around keyboard-based instruments. My grandfather gave me his accordion and electric organ, which I can’t play but can generate sound from with some intentionality. Vocals I’m always trying to learn, but usually under the protection of noise and considerable distortion.
AF: What was the name of your first band?
CL: When we were in 4th grade my friend and I started a band with two other kids (whom we never consulted) called Crossing Over. We even had a tagline: “An intense rock band.” Never made it beyond that point, thankfully. A couple years later we started The Justice League — no tagline and all members on board — so that’s probably the official first.
AF: Please introduce us to your feline friend.
CL: This is Trousers. She’s a kitty.
AF: How did you and your kitty come to find each other?
CL: I got her at a shelter called Best Friends Lifesaving Center. Trousers (née Amy) was hanging out in a box and let me pet her, so that pretty much fulfilled all my requirements.
AF: Give us a rundown of your pet history.
CL: I had dogs growing up. My first was Jim — a name I never learned was unusual until way later in life. He was a Dane-Lab mutt who liked running away and drooling. Then we got Lily who was another lab mutt but smaller and more conventionally good looking. She would run laps up and down the stairs to get her excitement out, which I thought was pretty cool. Both of them had a physicality I really loved — they were big enough to fight with or lie on and not worry about hurting them.
AF: What was it like switching from canine companions to a kitty companion?
CL: I honestly never really liked cats. My mom was allergic and my best friend had a really shitty one, so I kinda wrote them off. But since then I’ve met some charmers, and I just really wanted a companion. It’s a pretty great feeling to come home and say “Hi Trousers!” She’s really talkative which is endearing until it isn’t anymore but then somehow it is again.
AF: Do you have a favorite (non-human) animal-themed song or band?
CL: There’s a great song by El Guincho called “El Tiburón“; I can’t make out all the words but he is equating someone to a shark who “knows about fish but nothing of love.” As for the vegan selection, Monk’s version of “Just a Gigolo” is a long-time favorite.
AF: Have you ever written a song about an animal?
CL: I’m planning on using some Trousers purring samples on my next song, so maybe some lyrics will grow out of that.
AF: How did HYPEMOM form?
CL: As we begrudgingly remind ourselves when other bands who share our space use our gear without permission, we formed when Luke borrowed someone’s gear without permission. Matt and I had the bones of some songs that needed bass. Luke didn’t wanna play bass and he still might not, but he does and it’s great.
AF: Do you have a particular method for songwriting? Do you all contribute to each song or do you contribute separately?
CL: I’m pretty difficult when it comes to organic songwriting, and I don’t like “jamming.” I kinda need to perfect my parts in order to like them. So I usually either start with a riff or we start a song and I go off and write my own part.
AF: Tell us about Alex in the Attic.
CL: So this started with me getting a usb audiobox and recording little tidbits. I was really interested in the idea of writing fragments of songs and stitching them together almost as samples. I get bored quickly so I always want the song to change before it can feel redundant. Anyway, that was the idea behind Alex in the Attic: a lot of fragments of songs that feel like opening up old boxes of stowed away stories.
AF: Where do you usually record?
CL: All of it is recorded either in my apartment or captured sound out in the world on an iPhone. The audio quality is really low production — there’s no mixing or mastering going on. I’m sorry to real recording engineers, I’m sure it’s torture to listen to. This whole project is a learning process as much as it is songwriting.
AF: Does your kitty have a favorite “human” food?
CL: She might but so far I haven’t let her have anything. We’ll see how long that lasts…
AF: Does she seem to have any favorite genres of music?
CL: She gets pretty freaked out by things with twitchy high frequencies. And samba usually makes her paw the speaker.
AF: If your cat was a human, what career path do you think she would pursue?
CL: Something like what Fred Flintstone did. A lot of sleeping punctuated by really spastic outbursts. Also she bellows.
AF: Can you recommend a shelter for anyone looking for an animal companion?
CL: Only know of Best Friends but I definitely recommend it! They were really responsive after I brought Trousers home, especially since I was new at cat-dadding.
AF: What musical projects do you have in store for us for the rest of 2019 and 2020?
CL: I took a break from AitA after the first EP but I’m picking it back up now. Summer is a hard time to stay inside wearing headphones. But it’s allowed me to amass more recordings and practice more, which will inform everything ahead.
AF: When can we catch your next live set?
CL: Very stoked to say HYPEMOM has a show with Bike Thiefs on October 17th at Gold Sounds. They’re on tour, Ontarian, and on some next-level shit. Come out!