May 31, 2013, 04:23PM

My Musical Debt to The Boredoms

Thinking about the band that blew my mind at 14.

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A while ago, Eric Hatch brought up the Boredoms’ Pop Tatari, asking what relatively young and active bands claimed it as an influence. It struck me that, for one thing, I hadn’t listened to Pop Tatari or Vision Creation Newsun or Super Æ in six or seven years, nor had I really thought about this band that blew my mind at 14. In the summer of 2006, a bunch of us saw Keith Fullerton Whitman, Lightning Bolt, and the Boredoms at the Starlight Ballroom in Philadelphia. Amazing show beginning to end, and it was obvious the Boredoms had heavily influenced both openers, that rainbow in an oil slick sound—brutal drum sounds and stacked polyrhythms cocooning claustrophobic squeals and squelching synthesizers, repeating gloriously melodic arpeggios while still sounding like an exposed nerve. I couldn’t wrap my head around it and that’s why it was so exciting. Even at the show, a few feet away from Yamantaka Eye, I felt like I was only receiving 40 percent of what was being put out, overloaded as I was.

Although they weren’t on a big tour, there were at least 1000 people there that night and other nights, and you can bet at least 50 kids went home and started their own psych-rock projects that summer like we did, feeling enormously excited and accomplished after recording your first jam onto an inherited TASCAM or, less romantically, in Audacity. At the time, the Boredoms’ influence was obvious in a lot of places—The Locust, White Mice, Gang Gang Dance, Liars, Melt-Banana, Acid Mothers Temple—but their hyper-maximal bent has pretty much withered away in alternative music. Most everyone I know that was into these bands and that sound, has either become more rockist or more avant-garde.

My musical education was convoluted, non-linear, and not atypical for the first generation of kids with instant, free, and near-comprehensive access to all music, no matter how obscure. Digesting musique concrete, minimalism, Wolf Eyes, Leprechaun Catering, Sun Ra, and an endless list of remembered and forgotten noise bands, and then going back and filling in the gaps of, for lack of a better phrase, the classic rock canon. Teenagers and twentysomethings in the alternative world rep Rumours and Steely Dan these days, enthusiasm which would’ve been a total faux pas even a few years ago.

In the alternative world, the rock bands have become more meat & potatoes; either grunge revivalists, very Manchester, or slightly edgier Coldplay. They mention Nirvana and Deftones, but not Captain Beefheart. Noise, avant garde, and experimental electronic music is flourishing but as always very cloistered, and the two worlds don’t inform each other as much as they did only seven or eight years ago, when you were just as likely to hear a young band namedrop Sun City Girls or Moondog in the same sentence as Cocteau Twins or Pavement.

—Follow Nicky Smith on Twitter: @MUGGER1992

  • "Shoot a few holes, blow their minds." In that tradition, when I was 14, the first Flying Burrito Bros. record came out, and for better or (mostly) worse, paved the way for country rock. I don't know if the Eagles ever properly thanked Gram Parsons & Chris Hillman.

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