Buildings on strip clubs, throwing beers, and touring

Categories: Q&A
Courtesy of Buildings
Buildings are a Minneapolis noise-rock three-piece gaining a lot of traction in the U.S. and beyond, since February's release of their outstanding second record, Melt Cry Sleep (doubleplusgood). Singer/guitarist Brian Lake, drummer Travis Kuhlman, and bassist Ryan Harding look like mild-mannered guys -- a sharp contrast from their loud, raw and furious music.

Lake growls and snarls wry lyrics inspired by experiences that anger him. His eerily dissonant guitar wails and writhes with the heavy primal drumming of Kuhlman and Harding's hypnotic bass. Together, they careen violently like a car hurtling down a dark, deserted road. It's energizing, alarming, and powerfully riveting music all at once.

After tonight's tour kick-off at Hell's Kitchen, Buildings embark on their first Southern tour with over 18 shows in as many days. After returning, Buildings tour Europe, and will play the Incubate Festival in the Netherlands with bands they love and who inspire them, such as Brooklyn's The Men (who they played with recently at the 7th Street Entry), A Place to Bury Strangers, Black Congress, the Buzzcocks, and Shabazz Palaces.

Over Jack Daniels and beers, against the loud background noise of revved up Harleys, muffler-less old cars and pedal-pubs partiers on the patio outside the 331 Club, Buildings talked about their tour, performing with bands that inspire them, how they've managed to stay together for seven years, strippers, annoying dogs and such things that are the material of their oft-angry songs.

What types of bands will you play with on tour?

Brian Lake: This time around, with the record getting a little more press in the last three months, I was able to email bands and they were like "We already heard about you guys," or "My friend told me about you guys." Before, in 2010, you had to beg people to listen to your record.

Travis Kuhlman: Now we're playing with bands we actually listen to . . .

BL: Yeah, with international bands. And then you're becoming friends with these bands. The Men for example. And now METZ has signed with Sub Pop. They want to play with us the 29th of October at 7th Street.

Ryan Harding: That means your hard work is paying off.

The Men -- had they heard your record before?

TK: I don't know. They were here last summer and we talked to them for hours that night, we just partied with them.

BL: They were on the "Leave Home" tour. And once they got the all that press in Pitchfork, they just never stopped touring, and now they don't stop touring. When we played with them it was really cool because they had blown-up completely. And they still remembered we'd given them our record and shit.

Photo by Cyn Collins
If Sub Pop approached you, would you accept?

BL: Totally, yeah. We might get some demos together and shop it around. Our label guys are friends of ours. It's kind of like working with your brothers, your friends rather than the industry I guess you could say.

RH: The difference now from when I played with you guys before was like we were digging for any show we could get, and now since I've rejoined the band we turn down shows all the time, because everybody wants to play with you. You feel bad sometimes because they're your friend's band that you played with before and you can't help them out because you're already doing something else.

BL: I want to be able to do what we're doing -- when we play with these national bands that float through town -- because they're the kind of bands I'd like to tour with in the future. I'd like to play one show a month with a local band and one show a month with a national band.

How do you feel you've stuck with it, and stuck together for so long, when a lot of bands break up after a couple or few years?

TK: It's been a gamble pretty much from when we started playing music together. But, if you love what you do. Many bands do just quit. I don't know.

RH: There are definitely points where we've all not gotten along. But I think at the end of the day we all want to do this. I've played in countless other bands. These guys are more dedicated than anybody I've ever played with.

TK: We really like the kind of music we play.

BL: This is all I've ever wanted to do. You can tell your grandchildren that you went to Europe. That you got to play in front of a thousand people in the Netherlands. That's wild.

Who writes the lyrics and what inspires them?

BL: I see something that bothers me, makes me angry, I write about it, I guess. But I don't write about it where you can understand it. I write about it metaphorically. Where I understand it, but its just kind of gibberish, I guess. I feel sometimes... well, like Braille Animal, that whole album was about a chick. That was easy.

TK: Chicks. It's usually the plural form.

BL: This one's about all sorts of stuff. Like there's a song about my roommate's dog being annoying. It's called, "I Don't Love My Dog Anymore."

I wondered if that was a true story.

BL: Yeah, you just couldn't stand him anymore. He was awful. I had an image of me, like, throwing him down on the ground, and like...

TK: Killing him.

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