Five years ago, I bore witness to the mind-melting, unbelievably noisy, and loud-as-hell music for which the New York-based band A Place to Bury Strangers (APTBS) is famous. In 2015, eight of us stuffed ourselves into a rented Dodge Grand Caravan and made the long trek from the Magic City to Austin to attend Levitation, the music festival previously known as Austin Psych Fest.
The gathering presented many psychedelic legends, such as the 13th Floor Elevators, a pre-Currents Tame Impala, and Spiritualized, but it was APTBS's shoegaze-like performance that engraved itself deep into my brain. It might have something to do with the unforgettable memory of Oliver Ackermann, the longtime figurehead and singer/guitarist of the group, thrusting his Jaguar guitar 15 feet into the air and proving that live music can be chaotic yet really, really good.
Miami fans won't have to drive past Wynwood to experience APTBS's tinnitus-inducing shows. The band is set to embark on a Florida tour in the next fews days, and in addition to playing shows in West Palm Beach, Jacksonville, and St. Petersburg, the group will stop at Gramps on Friday, February 7.
"I like going places we don't always get a chance to, and it's freezing cold in New York, so it's the perfect thing to do," Ackermann tells New Times.
APTBS's most recent album, 2018's Pinned, reveled in the same thrash-laden shoegaze, noise, and postpunk formula the band has been playing for more than a decade. However, the record sported the addition of female vocals courtesy of drummer Lia Simone Braswell, formerly of Goth Tropic and Le Butcherettes.
"Lia joining the band was a new angle for A Place to Bury Strangers and brought new, exciting life to a lot of stuff with [her] vocal performances and really cool drumming," Ackermann says.
"It wasn't an easy album to record, but in some ways, recording music and playing music is what I love to do more than anything else, so it's kind of your escape from when you, I don't know, stick your hand in a circular saw and cut off part of your fingers or something like that," he jokes. "It was just one of those records that was inspired by all these transitionary moments that were going on in my life, and rebuilding spaces, not having spaces for things and having to scramble all of these things together."
Around the time the band was recording Pinned roughly three years ago, Ackermann's effects pedal company, Death by Audio, was transplanting itself from its former space in a Brooklyn studio to a warehouse in Queens. "We found this warehouse space in this residential neighborhood, and it was totally destroyed," he shares. "There were holes in the walls, gaps where there were windows, slime all over the place, rats, a box with feces in it, and when I saw it, I was like, Perfect — this is the spot."
Although there have not been any announcements of a second studio album by APTBS's creatively fruitful newer lineup, the bandmates are working hard to finalize the music they're been working on and get to recording now that Ackermann's warehouse and studio are set.
"We've been working on a lot of different stuff," Ackermann says. "We did this thing where we were improvising in the middle of the crowd [during] the last two tours; we recorded almost all of that, and that was kind of the springboard for a lot of different songs we've been working on. [It's] sort of like it was written with the crowd."
Regarding Re-Pinned — an album of remixed tracks from Pinned by artists such as Slowdive, Eric Copeland, Metz, and others — Ackermann admits he never thinks people will say yes when he asks them to retool APTBS's tracks.
"You just have to ask people," he says. "If anyone asks me for something, I'm always down. Ask me in Miami: Do you need your house painted or shutters cleaned?"
Asked what kind of craziness Miami can expect at the upcoming APTBS show, Ackermann says there's a real possibility for some misguided stunts.
"I was having fun whipping a chain around recently, so maybe a chain... and we'll probably do some stupid things and will put ourselves in danger," he says. "We'll definitely be playing as loud as we possibly can."
A Place to Bury Strangers. With Palomino Blond, DeGreaser, and Las Nubes (DJ set). 8 p.m. Friday, February 7, at Gramps, 174 NW 24th St., Miami; 305-699-2669; gramps.com. Admission is free.
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