Interviews:: Bottle Up & Go

We recently stumbled on the EP from the Brooklyn-based two piece, Bottle Up & Go. Slide blues with a serious dose of crashing drums - well, just read the review here.

HH: Herohill
K: Keenan Mitchell (vocals, guitar)
F: Fareed Sajan (drums)

HH:: First off, let's start with an easy question. Not many people are quick to start a two-piece heavy slide blues band. How did you guys get started, and did you ever think about adding another instrument/member to the sound?
K:: We met the first day of school at Wesleyan, because we lived on the same hall. I’d been listening to a lot of blues and playing slide on my own, and I saw he had a drum set, but we didn’t know anyone who played bass yet. Everyone is always telling us to add a bass, but that’s sort of contrary to the whole idea of our sound, and the tradition behind it. We have been slowly working Lucas into more and more of our songs on saxophone, and that has really helped expand our sound. It started with just a few solos, but at this point he is pretty much the third member of our band. He gets drink tickets just like the rest of us now. You can also find a little violin in there on our EP, which we are thinking about using more of as well.

F:: Well, Bottle Up & Go was essentially first conceived as a friendship. Keenan and I both attend Wesleyan University, and lived on the same hall in the West Co Dorm, a dorm famous for its drug use and artistic inclinations. As my parents left after helping me move in and such, Keenan came by saw the instruments in my room and asked if I would like to jam later, and then asked me to join him in smoking weed he had just scored in town. Bottle Up & Go is Keenan and I, so it began in that moment.

Later we played and experienced some sort of raw freedom, an honesty I could express in my drum playing that I had not really found in other musical projects. So somewhere in the back of my mind it was something I was silently excited about, only later, about a semester later in 2006, we played our first show, a 15 minute slot, last band to play Wesleyan's Awesome Fest, and we knew that Bottle Up & Go was something to continue on doing after that show.

HH:: You guys seem really comfortable using the Net to get your music out. How do you feel about blogs/myspace and the way music is digested by fans? Side note - did you know when you goggle your band name the first result is another blues band from Denmark or something?
K:: I think the whole blogs/myspace thing is great, because without that we would just be handing out demos at shows. This way people anywhere can check us out for free while they’re eating cereal in the morning, even if they have never seen us. It’s also fun to see everyday how many people listened to us. Who are those people?

As for the goddamn skiffle band from Denmark, your days are fucking numbered, boys. Next time a tour takes us through Denmark we are going to find them and kill them.

F:: The internet I feel is a catalyst for communication, obviously. If a band puts up music on myspace, it only supplements what is actually there in non-virtual existence, yet at the same time creating this surface existence. Its kind of like a face, by that it expresses itself through updates, artwork, or w/e.

But mainly I just mean that the mind is not revealed, or the content, or in non metaphorical terms, the flesh of the band is not revealed... Only pictures of the band are. This sometimes creates a facade, but it is a facade that otherwise is always created because of judgment. So I do not think inherently that Internet is bad because it does not represent the band to its actual truth, as nothing really will unless you speak to them or see a band live like the good old days.

Instead the internet is a catalyst, or an instigator to perhaps create attraction for people that otherwise would not come, to actually come out to our shows and experience blues music they might otherwise never cross paths with. Internet can really only be good if it is used to promote what is already there, and I think that is how we strive to exercise its possibilities and potential powers.

Once we had our EP up, people started to respond, and somehow we have been asked to play shows through myspace, you guys at herohill found us, etc. Myspace has only sped things up for us, as blogs have done as well. As for the band in Denmark, it will be a race. Fuck the Internet, lets have a duel.

HH:: Your sound isn't really a common one. What's the crowd reaction been like when you guys open up for a band?
K:: It really depends on the band that we are opening for. If kids are there for a punk show they’ll mosh to it, but if it’s for a danceypants band people will shake their butt a little to it. When we play shows at the rest home, though, it is almost strictly waltzing. Go figure.

F:: Personally I just like to see specific reactions of people's faces to certain parts of the song. According to certain dynamics, I like to see if the crowd can feel the sadness of the chord progressions, or whether they are stones and are indifferent to someone bleeding on stage. I question, when in the depths of our set, once the crowd is familiar with our sound, if who we are opening for will influence their decision about our band.

But it is true, as Keenan said, it usually does depend on what genre the headlining band falls into, which necessarily will affect how the crowd will move their bodies according to what freedom they allow themselves depending on the genre. We have been told that we fit into all sort of different genres, like 60's nostalgic, or garage blues, holler blues (laughs), or I don't know.

HH:: What bands or sounds influence your song writing?
K:: We are inspired by real old blues, like Leadbelly, Blind Willie McTell, Blind Willie Johnson, anybody blind, when it comes down to it.

All of those guys who are just about a man and his guitar with a chain gang or a tambourine as the only backup. At the same time we are obviously influenced a little by other two-piece blues groups out there now, like the immortal lee county killers, even the black keys.

HH:: Being from NYC and being a small band, how does the number of bands and different sounds affect you guys?
K:: Like you said, there aren’t a lot of bands on the scene that sound like us, so there isn’t a lot of direct influence working into our sound from other people we see playing around. I don’t know what I am talking about.

F:: Well, I think the number of bands and different sounds in the NYC scene only encourages to push our own limits, while creating a network of friends that is ever expanding for us to immerse ourselves in. There is a really great folk and blues scene in Brooklyn, with bands like O'Death, and even more rock influenced country/blues like Young Lords, Mason Dixon, Stylofone, Abigail Warchild, there definitely is a scene for which there is support and organized shows/parties going on all the time.

We are actually playing with These United States and Pascalle on Aug. 19th at the Annex, both bands that are on the quiet acoustic folk side that we are very fond of.

HH:: What's next for you guys now that the EP is finished?
K:: More shows, more songs. We are just trying to get enough written that we can start working on a full album. We got offered a show in Tokyo, so we are really just waiting for another hundred show offers or so and then we can book the Murder in Denmark world tour.

F:: Yes, the world tour indeed. I think what is next for us is just playing more shows in NYC with bands that we respect, and we will actually be at school next semester in CT, so perhaps more shows there. Keenan will actually be at sea for a few months, so perhaps we will be on hiatus, or rather, booking really awesome shows for when he gets back. I know we have like two small windows in October that I am trying to book The Annuals at Wesleyan, so maybe we will open for them.

Recently, we have been writing more songs than we ever have. Almost a new one a week, or every two weeks, that has been sort of reshaping our sound. Now more than anything that is what we are focusing on. At these early stages we are still defining our sound, experimenting with different sounds of distortion for different plateaus of heaviness, and even more rhythmic sections straying away from our punk sound and perhaps moving towards groove oriented song structures. I do want to get back in the studio and demo some these songs, as we have already tested them out on crowds and receive better and better reactions each time.

MP3:: All My Trials


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