Interview With Absent Me
by Michele Christopher
I've wanted to do this interview for a long time now. And fortunately for me, after much prodding and poking, I journeyed to the secret rehearsal lair of Absent Me to sit down with them and discuss their first full length album, "Hate To Wake You", their troubles with keeping a steady line up, Myspace and the state of the Sacramento music scene.
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Absent Me started out playing more straight-forward, albeit more gothic styled, rock. And when I say Goth I mean it. We all had clever stage names – mine was Piko - and when we took the stage we looked like we just stepped off of the tour bus of the damned. Since the days of yore they’ve gone through a lot of stylistic changes, and lost the onstage get-up. Comparing the old material to the new is like comparing apples to hand grenades. Curtis used to write all of the music and hand it down to the other members to work on. These days they’ve gone to writing collectively where each member contributes to the shape and structure of the songs. It’s for that very reason that I felt like an amateurish asshole when I asked, “What do you attribute the stylistic changes in the band to?” and everyone looked at me – like I was holding a balloon and licking a window – and said, “New Members.” The caveat coming from Brian, “…Having a stronger rhythm section has opened up new avenues that we couldn’t have taken before.”
Having been around the group as long as I have; I’ve got a few favorite songs that are no longer in the rotation for live shows. I asked the guys if they ever planned on bringing back the old material, or re-working it and the consensus was: No. Though you can hear remnants of old material in some of their new stuff. Don took the quiet guitar from an old song and completely reworked it as the basis for the title track: Hate To Wake You. If there’s enough interest from you people reading this, and with the approval of the band, I’ll put up my two favorite old songs here on the site for you to download.
The interview was a pretty calm affair, for the most part, right up until we started talking about Myspace.
Brian: Fuck Myspace.
Curtis: Myspace has killed band websites.
-see what I mean?
Don: You used to be able to use your website to keep people informed about your shows. If people wanted to know when you were playing they could check your site, or they’d be on your mailing list. But with Myspace you can’t even post a bulletin to let people know when you’re playing because thirteen seconds after you’ve posted it, four billion other people post chain mail and crap and your show announcement gets buried.
Brian: And on top of that Myspace is the Starbucks coffee of websites and you know how I feel about Starbucks
Let me pause the interview real quick and explain something. Brian hates yuppies, Starbucks, Eddie Bauer…and pretty much anything associated with them. If you read the bio page of my website where it says this website has kept me from going on second dates – that was because of Brian. Early in the days of this site Brian was a contributing author. He wrote an angry diatribe one day after I went on a date with a forgettable girl who lived in an idealistic college town near me. It had nothing to do with her whatsoever, but both my date and her room mate knew about the site and after reading the diatribe the room mate, who also knew Brian, called him asking why I would write something like that about her friend. I didn’t write it, he did, but needless to say, she never called me back.
The last thing I asked these folks was about the Sacramento Music Scene. Collectively these guys have been playing in front of audiences for over a hundred years and Sac, you’re going to want to take notes. Aside from the fact that establishments to play music in have been dwindling each and every year the biggest problem with the Sacramento music scene is the fact that no one appears to be having a good time.
Brian: Everyone just stands there and glares at you. We can’t tell if they’re into it [the music] or if they’re thinking about trying to rob us after the show.
J0b: Hardly anyone gets up and moves. There’s no pit, no pogo-ing. A little crowd response during the song would be nice.
Curtis: People cheer and clap when we’re done but it would be nice if they got into it while we’re playing.
Listen up folks. When you go to a show the band feeds off of you as much as you react to them. If you’re enjoying the show do something. Bang your head, start a mosh pit, jump up and down like a crack head who just got lit on fire (not that I’ve ever lit a crack head on fire before)…show them you’re into the performance they’re putting on. If you’re a girl: Flash ‘em some titties. Everyone in Absent Me has a girlfriend or a wife, but do it out of appreciation for what they’re doing. Or you could always do what I saw at the last show I went to: You chicks could get drunk and start a mild softcore-lesbian-strip session. These guys put on too good of a show for you not to react.
With that I left the foursome to get back to writing and rehearsing, a new album is already in the works, and went off to listen to “Hate To Wake You” on my ride home. I’ve heard bits and pieces of this album for a while now and to hear it fully mastered and completed was wicked cool, especially the first thing you hear: A cell phone. Yes I marked out for a cell phone starting a song. That’s because the cell phone on the cd is actually playing a polyphonic ring-tone of the first song: 2wenty1. Curtis programmed it himself but from there on out hold on to your face; because it’s about to be rocked off of your fucking skull.
In order for any band to survive they have to be dynamic. And you won’t find a more dynamic album than this one. I’m not going to pigeonhole them into a category and say that they’re metal or hard rock because this band is all over the place. It’s haunting, it’s heavy, it’s quiet and introspective, it’s – strangely enough – even a little bit reggae. The talent of these four is not only on display on this album, it’s impossible to ignore. Brian spans the spectrum of vocal ranges, from whisper-quiet to screaming rage, with precision. Curtis’s guitar work is ethereal and driving, not to mention the fact that he still knows how to write a wicked solo; something hardly seen this day in age. J0b lays down bass lines that would make the likes of Mike Patton and Les Claypool drool. And you would be hard pressed to find, anywhere you looked, a drummer better than Don. I used to play drums and watching Don play live is truly a sight to see. I gave a friend of mine a copy of the CD and check out what happened:
My personal favorite track on this CD is “Thin”. Which is fantastic on the album but something you really need to see live in order to appreciate the talent, drive and energy that this band exudes. If you get a chance to see the guys play live you won’t want to miss it. For show dates check out their website. CDs are available at every show for a mere $10 but if you live outside of the greater Sacramento area and want a cd; email them and I’m sure something can be arranged. And if you see me on the street or at an Absent Me show: Flash me some titties and say, “Nice website Trav.” It’ll make all of this worth it.
Travis not a paid promotional director.