photos & text: Dan Cohoon (unless otherwise noted)
T. Penn: I don’t bake pie. I do like good pie. I’m not very good in the kitchen with the exception of a few ethnic dishes, in which I take pride. I met you at a house show, so I brought something to the host’s house to be a good guest. A lot of people go to house shows and bring nothing. Unfortunately, I have even met plenty of people who go to house shows without money for the cover and bring beer only for themselves - that’s a bad house guest. So, I bring pie to some house shows. If I don’t have time to stop at a market and get a pie, at very least, I leave some music / zines from my bistro for the host(s).
TP: My parents were not musicians, but there was a lot of music in my home. My mom liked rockabilly and doo-wop. I used to go to free concerts in the park to see these old bands with my mom. I have her rockabilly and doo-wop records now, and they are prized processions. My dad likes Buddy Holly, Van Morrison and jazz. I remember often playing air piano on his dashboard on drives to his house as a kid. He encouraged this and also bought me my first electric guitar.
My earliest musical/record memories are sitting for long periods of time in front of my Fisher Price ™ record player with Pacman and He-Man storybook 45s. I was about 6 years old. I also have a fond memory, at around age 7, making cardboard guitars with my neighborhood friends and rocking to the Beastie Boys’ first LP. One of the Beasties had an “Oh Sh*t” pin on his jacket. The 7 year old me secretly liked that. I also remember seeing a P.I.L. music video at around the same age and Johnny Lydon scared the sh*t out of me. [Proofreader’s note: check out AWKWARD interview with Jon Snyder in 1980 (YouTube is your friend)]
TP: In 6th grade, Nirvana was a game changer for me. Before that, I liked mostly pop of the day: Bruce Springsteen, Michael Jackson, Billy Idol. Listening to Nirvana interviews, reading their liner notes and watching for what t-shirts they were wearing led the way to cool underground music.
I think it was that way for a lot of my generation.
Other albums that have had a transformative effect on me since then are Sonic Youth’s “Sonik Death,” CAN’s “Tago Mago,” P.I.L.’s “Second Edition.”
More recently, the game influential albums have been punk LPs. Confuse’s (from Japan) “Indignation” LP and Siekiera’s (from Poland) “1984” LP. Confuse is the noisiest and most extreme punk band I have ever heard - punk, though not grindcore, power-violence, gore-grind, etc. They’re punk, extreme punk. Their static guitar sound and chaotic playing influenced the guitar sound/playing of the Human Adults’ “God Made Dirt” cassette and the guitar on the live version of that material. Siekiera influenced me because they’re so dry. No frills hardcore punk. Very uniform. I like that in a punk band. For the musicians out there, I think most of their nihilistic sounding chord progressions are whole step then half step as opposed to a poppier 1/4/5 progression found in a lot of pop punk.
TP: Probably tug boat. A mentor of mine refers to good bass playing as “driving the bus.” When he came out to see us play, he told me I was a good bus driver. I like the analogy. I would say that dude from Rancid is a ball hog, and Chris from Nirvana is a tug boat. Also, Lee’s new bassist in the Dust, Tim Lüntzel, is a ball hog, but I love it. When I see the Dust play live, I can’t help but to watch Lüntzel the whole time.
TP: I fell into it. In my first band in middle school, we would switch instruments a lot. I didn’t mind playing the bass. I feel like sometimes people feel like they get ‘stuck’ with the bass in those types of situations. I embraced it. I still embrace it. I also write most of our songs on the bass, which probably contributes to our unorthodox sound.
TP: I do very little promotion of mp3s / computer music listening because I don’t like it. For me, computer music or listening online is just for reference. Use it to see if the music is right for you. Then if it is, you buy the record, tape or cd for a true listening experience. Computer music listening is like looking something up in an encyclopedia. You can’t really use a chapter in an encyclopedia as your only research unless you’re in grade school or something.
Any member at any time is welcome to rehearse then play a show/record if they can make it work musically, but typically, I have a line-up in mind for certain recording projects/shows. Sometimes someone cancels due to life or someone signs on last minute, which makes it fun. For example, we just recorded a song in the studio for a Tri-State 7” comp that’s in the works. I had four guys in mind (Phil, Chaz, Kyler and I) because I wanted a ‘rock’ line up as opposed to a free noise line up, out-psyche line up or bleak punk line up. Then I realized (kinda last minute) that I really wanted Mank to be on the vinyl. He came up with a part, and it ‘made’ the song. This kinda thing makes the band fun.
TP: 1996-2002 I played in a punk band, MohawkBarbie. We were four chord punk. Only one song out of our 40 songs or so had some improv. So, I was very good at playing fast and heavy handed, which takes a lot of regular practice. Ask any of the Ramones. In 2000, I started to get into more improv with a noise band called Thee Black One. 2003-4 I did more improv with the street performing freak folk collective, Buckets and Batteries. I really sharpened my improv skills with Pots &Powercells from 2009-2012. Human Adult Band has always been in-between the route memorization and heaviness of a typical punk band and the looseness and on-your-toes aspects of a noise or freak folk jam band.
TP: I see the Human Adults as a life-long project. I plan to continue putting our records and playing shows. The Tr-State 7” comp should be cool because it will include a lot of my local musical peers. There’s a lot of variation of sound in our small regional group. I am also working on an LP of some really bleak punk music. I think it will be one of my best records yet. The demos of this record have received really positive reviews in WIRE and Maximum RocknRoll. This excites me because I feel like those are two very different magazines with generally two very different stances on music.
Fri July 10th 2015: Human Adult Band / Empty Shapes / Wild Rice / Dark Monks
@ John and Peters, New Hope, PA
Sat July 25th 2015: Big Blood / Human Adult Band / Picastro
@ WFMU's Monty Hall, Jersey City, NJ
Fri Sept 4th 2015: Z'ev / Human Adult Band / Justin A Mank
@ In the West, New Brunswick, NJ
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