For a band with only one album out on a tiny independent label (the delightfully named Killer Pimp Records), A Place to Bury Strangers has certainly scored its share of choice gigs.
The New York–based trio has landed opening slots for the likes of Brian Jonestown Massacre, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, and Nine Inch Nails. For APTBS singer-guitarist Oliver Ackermann, however, the biggest thrill to date has been warming up a crowd at New York City’s Webster Hall for the recently reunited Jesus and Mary Chain.
“That was one of the first shows we ever played with someone who was pretty big, and it was such a big thing for me,” says the front man, reached at home in Brooklyn’s tragically hip Williamsburg neighbourhood. “I used to love Jesus and Mary Chain so much, so it was nuts to have the opportunity to do that. It would have been cooler if they were playing more like they used to play, but it was still awesome to get the chance to play that show. That was amazing.”
It’s no surprise that Ackermann prefers JAMC’s earlier, feedback-drenched material; as heard on his own group’s self-titled debut CD, A Place to Bury Strangers owes a lot to the Reid brothers’ buzz-saw noise-pop, and just as much to My Bloody Valentine’s Dramamine haze. Like both of those acts, APTBS favours playing loud. Really, really loud.
“There was someone who came by and measured us practicing, and I think that was, like, 102 decibels,” Ackermann says. “And I know that we’ve maxed out decibel metres at some clubs, which is, like, 110 or something.”
For those who like to keep track of such things, that’s a sound-pressure level somewhere between a jackhammer at a distance of one metre and a jet at 100 metres. And considering that long-term exposure to about 85 decibels is sufficient to cause hearing damage, it’s apt that Ackermann is involved in a venture that goes by a colourful moniker implying aural punishment.
Death by Audio is the collective handle for a record label, a performance space, a recording facility, and, most lucratively, a boutique effects-pedal concern known for stomp boxes with such menacing names as Total Sonic Annihilation and Fuzz War.
Death by Audio’s client list includes indie icons such as TV on the Radio and Spoon, plus stadium acts like U2 and Nine Inch Nails. For Ackermann, meeting his musical heroes is one of the perks of doing business. “I met My Bloody Valentine,” he says. “Those guys were really nice and really cool. Kevin [Shields] said that he loved some of those pedals, and that was really amazing. I haven’t met U2, but maybe that’s yet to come.”
A Place to Bury Strangers plays the Biltmore Cabaret next Thursday (September 25).