words by Andy Turner
Brooklyn’s Organs stir up a dirty and dusty organ-less sound that might make you think of a more punk-influenced group from the bygone Burnside period at Fat Possum with a premium less on groove and more on full gospel free-for-alls. The trio hit the road recently after finishing its first full-length album and will make its debut Milwaukee appearance tonight at Quarters. Lead singer/guitarist Brian Chillemi talked to us recently from the road.
How did Organs come together? Who is in the band now? Is this your first extensive tour?
Pretty much my old band broke up and I wanted to start my own band since I had been writing songs with my friend for a few years. I wrote some tunes and started asking around for drummers and bass players — and an organ/piano player that hasn’t happened yet. But, I’ve been playing with Ryan, our drummer for about three years now and Hartwick joined last summer. This is our second tour. We went out in December through the South, which was a blast and we’re really psyched to play the Midwest and see some rock ‘n roll towns!
I see Organs has its debut album in the works. What can you tell us about it? Who is putting it out?
We recorded the music in January and just did the vocals and mixing on Wednesday the day before we left for tour. We’re really happy how it all went! Twenty hours, ten songs, 2″ tape, rad analog gear. We recorded it with Ben Greenberg who did our last 7″‘s, but worked out of two different studios. We’re gonna get it mastered and shop it around and see who bites.
You’ve actually released quite a few songs already on 7″, cassette and even flexi disc. How did you decide it was time to record a full-length?
We actually recorded nine songs with Ben and mastered it as an LP. But Killer Diller wanted to do an EP and a flexi — which worked out better, I think, since it put the songs in a few different hands with Chick Pea Records doing a split with the Cavestompers, a Russian band. The last track from that session is actually coming out on a summertime cassette comp with Oops Baby Records from Brooklyn. But this time around, we ain’t breaking it up — we feel really happy about the material and it sounds really fluid.
You also are in Rockwood Revival, a traditional string band with Nick Chiericozzi of The Men and Holly Overton. Do you ever get confused and play your banjo a little too hard or your guitar too softly?
Yah, Rockwood Revival is a fun side-project for all of us. We get to strip it down, play different instruments and learn from the old songs. We don’t really play too much anymore since Nick is travelling a lot and things are picking up for all of our bands. Holly, my girlfriend, plays in American Sun, a really sweet, psychedelic girl-punk band that just put out a solid 7″. She also sang on our new record and the latest The Men record. We all work really easily together. As far as the banjo goes, man…I’m more of a dulcimer/mandolin kinda guy. I bought a banjo a while back, but claw hammer is rough!
It seems in Brooklyn and New York right now, there are no shortage of cool bands that have some connection to garage and punk, including Daddy Long Legs, Back Sisi’s, The Above, The Siberians, etc. What impact does that have on you as a musician? Make you more competitive? More inspired?
It’s real nice to be part of the scene with some really nice, rad people who just want to have fun. I think we all do our own thing, but yeah, there are times when you see an amazing show and walk away like, “sh**, that just really made me happy.”
A filmmaker, too, Brian? Please fill us in.
I’ve been making films since before I started making music and really enjoy the medium. It’s the other side of my brain…music is super immediate and an instant gratification while film is like a slow, plotting, calculated thing that builds. I’ve been working on a film for about four years, now. It’s four, short period pieces on 16mm. Been working with friends and had no money, but I love it very much and it should be out by summer’s end. 20th Century Girl is the title and you can check some stuff out at BrianChillemi.com.
Favorite organ? Favorite Organ?
Harpsichord, saxophone and lap steel.
Organs play Quarters (900 E. Center Street) tonight with the Onions and Hullmen. 9pm, 21+