Hear Lightning Bolt’s First Recording in Six Years ‘The Metal East’
Lightning Bolt, highly-influential Crayola-punk noise duo, are returning with their first new recordings in nearly six years. Their seventh album, Fantasy Empire, represents a new chapter for a band that’s been together more than 20 years: it’s their first album for the esteemed Thrill Jockey and their first recorded in a traditional studio. As they tour, performances will increasingly find the guerilla team playing on actual stages instead of the club floors they dominated for years.
First taste, album opener “The Metal East,” represents the band’s cleaner though no less pummeling sound, with quick blasts of Line 6 loops added to their signature bludgeon.
“There’s a little bit in a shift of the goals for these records,” says bassist Brian Gibson. “In the past, our records were very much trying to this authentic document of the experience of recording. . . This one, my mentality was more, ‘I want this to sound like how it sounds to me when we’re playing, and I want it to feel like the way it feels for me when we’re playing,’ which is really intense. I’m standing right in front of my speaker, so I’m just hearing so much that I think a lot of people in the audience don’t even hear.”
Rolling Stone caught up with the Brians to find out how they’re sharpening one of the most unique distortion bursts of a generation.
What have you been up to for the last six years?
Brian Chippendale: I think I’ve put out seven solo records [as Black Pus], in some form. My focus hasn’t shifted so much…. I have a practice space here in a warehouse where I spend almost all of my time, and Gibson comes over and we practice. I’ve been going back there and playing this whole time [laughs]. But maybe more time spent by myself.
Gibson: I’ve been making this video game for the last five years, and that’s just coming to the end now. The game, it’s this really dark, psychedelic, sort of a music game and sort of a racing game. We’re calling it “rhythm violence.” You’re this chrome beetle, and you’re cruising down this really terrifying, psychedelic highway through the cosmos and you’re kind of banging into stuff and interacting with all these musical things and all this cacophonous noise happening that adds up to this sort of rhythmic, pretty intense sonic thing.
Chippendale: [The new music] just wasn’t sounding new, and it wasn’t sounding fresh. We recorded with [longtime producer Dave Auchenbach] and he drags in all this weird archaic, digital equipment over to this warehouse and [we] record in this not-soundproofed mess of a heap of stuff. And it worked for a long time. And it just didn’t seem like it was working anymore. Some of the [last six years] was just us banging our head against the same wall and not getting new results…. We’re like a simple band, and it’s about things working simply. It’s very simple to be like, “Ah, let’s work on it tomorrow, maybe.” So, it was a pile of simple things that got in the way.