Chug the Acid Dropper, Listen to Urochromes’ ‘My Dickies’
What started as a couple guys, a drum machine and a copy of Alien Soundtracks quickly escalated into full-on hardcore violence. And while that was cool and all, Urochromes had much more grandiose plans.
Teaming up in western Massachusetts, Jackieboy and Dick Riddick have dazzled punk fans with their blown-out cassette and 7" releases, playing to rabid audiences across the country with their venomous and noisy nihilism. Their latest EP is self-described as their most "fully realized," the culmination of their original vision. Spanning four tracks plus a remix, Night Bully is the band sponging up every last drop of the blotter to create an anxiety-ridden psychedelic punk nightmare. It's fucked, but it rips, and it's due in January via Wharf Cat (preorder). Stream the first track to emerge, "My Dickies," right here.
With the new effort on deck, we spoke with Jackieboy about the project, its new turn and the band's influences. The results of our conversation — and that track stream — are below.
Urochromes started as a project with a drum machine. Was that an aesthetic choice or born out of necessity?
It started as necessity, and then we embraced it as an aesthetic. Me and my friend Dick were having trouble forming bands that hadn’t really worked out, and we were having trouble finding other people to work with. So, it was partially out of necessity, and it was also intentionally in that we wanted to do something that was kind inspired by a few different bands that used drum machines, especially Chrome.
Playing with a drum machine is limiting — it basically eliminates any ability to improv. Did you find that difficult or did you enjoy operating within those constraints?
Speaking for myself, I like working with constraints. It’s a really positive thing for me creatively, both in music and visual art. It’s sort of how I work and what I’m most happy with. It was definitely something that we struggled with at times, and that’s why [on] our last tour, we used a live drummer. We were feeling those constraints and wanted to get out of that. So, while it was good creatively at first, it’s something that we’ve moved away from to keep the project interesting.
What is the current configuration? Do you see yourself adding a noise element to the lineup?
There is no current lineup, so not sure what the next move is going to be, but the last two tours were guitar, bass and live drums. I feel like we may move back toward the drum machine when we get out there again, but I can’t say for sure. As far as noise goes, it’s a part of the music, but it would be hard to imagine adding someone dedicated to that.
You mentioned Chrome, which is a great jumping-off point, but there are quite a few other influences, which range from Butthole Surfers to Scratch Acid and even some of the antagonistic elements of early Swans, Flipper and Stick Men With Ray Guns. It’s a bit of a left turn from the material that you did on previous releases, especially the title track. Was this the Urochromes that was bubbling beneath the surface the entire time? Or was this a conscious left turn?
It was really an important part of the original concept of the band. As we got into recording and writing for the live set, it moved away from the original concept and toward a more straightforward hardcore thing. When we went in to record Night Bully, we wanted it to reflect the influences that we were originally thinking about.
To me, the way Chrome created a world within songs is something that few other bands achieved to the level that they do. Night Bully is trying to do something more like that … establish its own little sonic world.
You currently live in L.A., are from western Massachusetts, and have an NYC phone number. What do you think is the most vibrant punk scene right now?
I think the best punk scenes are the ones that have to fight to survive. So, to me, it’s about western Mass. I hope and plan to move back there at some point. That’s where the roots of the band will always be.
Any touring in the near future?
The plan is to head out in the first part of the year, but we're still working on all of that.
"My Dickies" is the first song to be let loose from the EP. Can you comment on the track?
"My Dickies" steals lyrics from the Flesh Eaters and Shaye Saint John, both of which are major influences. There is a direct music reference, too, but it's a secret. On my end, I was trying to write a standard "every day's a drag" kind of song, but it's also about struggling to find continuity between stages of your life and feeling like you're constantly starting from square one.