Published Mar 08, 2013Buke and Gase, two thoroughly modern DIY mavericks from Brooklyn, NY, had already captured eyes and ears aplenty — Lou Reed, tUnE-yArDs and Shellac have gave them high-profile support slots, while the National signed the duo to their Brassland imprint — but it's with latest LP, General Dome, that the duo are really stepping up.
It's telling that the instruments home-crafted by the pair, Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez, are probably the least interesting thing about the record, but it's all anyone can seem to talk about. So, in their wisdom, what does all that defiant self-sufficiency say about them?
"That we're geeks?" offers Sanchez, the band's principal instrument maker (a position he formerly held for the Blue Man Group, no less), in a recent Exclaim! interview. "Making instruments is not an end in itself; it's to achieve a particular kind of musical end. It's bringing us to a place we wouldn't be able to get to if we were in a normal four-piece band."
Dyer, who fulfills the band's vocal element by way of varyingly unhinged shrieks and sneers, confirms that her musical approach is less a stylistic stance than way of life: "Sometimes it's hard to talk about it, 'cause it's just how it is. It's been a part of both of our lives in entirety. It's just how we roll."
She continues: "My dad, he grew up on a farm and his work was with computers. So he was bringing all this interesting technology home, and he would teach me how to take electronics apart and put them back together. He'd just let me ruin his electrical equipment, but all in the name of experimentation, and that was a lot of fun. And then my mom worked as a teacher. Oh, and my dad is a musician! So my first guitar was from him, when I was nine or something. But I grew up in a small town in Minnesota, so in my teen years I was a very... isolated individual. [Cackles gloriously.] But you know, shit! I was an artist — whatever!"
Adds Sanchez, "I always had tools around the house. I just got into working with my hands very early on, in all forms. My dad's a painter, my mom's a dancer, so I just took on the music thing and went in that direction. Working with my hands has always been a huge thing for me — I don't see any other option in life. This is my life. I guess I'm still that kid: making music, building things with my hands — that's what I love to do."
Ultimately, the source of momentum is a proactive suppression of creative stasis that's particularly pertinent in indie rock's nostalgia era.
"I've been in a lot of more traditional, limiting bands," Sanchez concludes. "In some ways, it's a lot easier to do that, but I feel like there are new avenues to take. In the process of improvising, I feel like the music isn't really coming from me, from my ego. It's coming out of this framework that we've created. I want to be able to push the boundaries and come up with some new-sounding music and new ways of creating music."
General Dome is out now on Brassland, and you can read more of Exclaim!'s interview with Buke and Gase here.