Jul 28, 2008, 05:31AM


Lain Carney of new Thrill Jockey signees Pontiak talks about their new LP with Arbouretum, recording in farm country, and his favorite local bands.

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Photo courtesy of Invisible City Booking

In the last two or three years Baltimore's indie music scene has earned a lot of cred (just look at what Rolling Stone said about the city). Beach House, Arbouretum, Dan Deacon and Co., Ponytail, Wye Oak, and others have all been signing contracts, selling out concerts, and generally making some of the best indie music around. Now you can add Pontiak to that list. Recently signed to Thrill Jockey (who will re-release their second album Sun on Sun in September), Pontiak is a good ol' fashioned family trio made up of Lain, Jennings, and Van Carney. Together, the three brothers (Lain on drums, Jennings on bass, and Van on guitar and vocals) make noisy, vaguely psychedelic fusion rock, all of it recorded in their rural VA studio. On July 21, Pontiak released Kale, a split LP with their good friends Arbouretum (with John Cale covers by both bands). Splice recently talked to Lain about this most recent album.

SPLICE TODAY: So what's your history with Arbouretum?

LAIN CARNEY: It's a pretty simple story really, we started playing shows with them about a year and a half ago and became good friends.

ST: Whose idea was it to do a split album? When was this all decided?

LC: It was our idea. We had thought about doing a split for a while, so Van talked to Dave [Heumann, lead singer of Arbouretum and member of Human Bell] and he agreed enthusiastically to agree enthusiastically to do the split with us.

ST: How about the John Cale covers? How'd that come about?

LC: Both bands threw around a bunch of ideas but eventually I think it was [Arbouretum bassist] Corey [Allender] who mentioned John Cale to Dave, who passed it along to Van and we said, "great!"

ST: So are you not really Lou Reed fans then? What do you think, Could Cale take Reed in a fight—not now, they're both pretty old, no one would want to see that. Let's say, early '70s?
LC: We are fans of both Cale and Reed alike. Who would win?  Maybe this will answer your question.

ST: You recorded Kale in your Virginia studio, right? Can you talk about that? What's the setup there? How long did it take? That kind of stuff.

LC: Ah, man, I love that studio. It's in Jennings' house and it kind of moves between his living room and a back room that he has using Pro Tools along the way. The two rooms sound completely different from each other but for space reasons we recorded the Arbouretum stuff in his living room. It was a two-day event and it flew by. Our stuff took about the same time but we did it before Arbouretum came down so we could just focus on their tunes.

ST: Is that where you do most of your recording? What is it about Virginia farm country that makes for such good albums?

LC: Currently that's where we do all of our recording. I think that, for me, being out there turns up the focus Level.

ST: Why the LP-only release?

LC: It was a decision Thrill Jockey made to have a limited release. And also because the music sounds so good on vinyl I suppose it was the obvious choice. The record is also available digitally.

ST: Congratulations on signing to Thrill Jockey. Any plans for an album release party when they re-release Sun on Sun in September?

LC: We have talked a little about an album release party but it hasn't been a priority in our heads yet. Thanks on the signing, we are excited to work with Thrill Jockey too; it's such a great organization, it's an honor to be on the label.

ST: Did you go to Whartscape this year? What do you think about Wham City and all the press they've gotten lately?       

LC: I didn't go but I wanted to...J.O.B. I think their press is great. I think it's doing awesome things for Baltimore, giving exposure to great bands.

ST: Do you think they're good for the Baltimore music scene?

LC: Absolutely.

ST: Can you talk about some of your favorite Baltimore bands and why they're important to you?

LC: I think the Baltimore music scene is really supportive but above all, energizing and positive. There are great shows, ALL THE TIME, which is something I think many other cities of Baltimore's size might not be able to deliver. But, in no particular order, here are some cool bands that come to mind: Arbouretum, Wye Oak, Jones, Bow and Arrow, Frenemies, Lexie Mountain Boys, AK Slaughter, Beach House, VBS, Sri Aurobindo, Field Athletics, Height.

ST: What are your plans now?

LC: We have a tour coming up in September with Arbouretum. In the mean time, we're writing and recording a lot. As much as possible.  That's my favorite part about playing music, writing and recording.  My hope is to bring a lot of new material on the road in September. I hear new material differently when I play it live. It's good for the process.

  • I saw these guys live when I was in Baltimore recently, they seemed pretty good, if kinda forgettable. The split LP sounds promising though; Arboreutum rocks.

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