State Champion – Fantasy Error – 2015

fantasyerror

In an essay called “Gone with the Wind,” rock writer Greil Marcus talks about a documentary released in 1983 called Seventeen. In the documentary, a teenager dies–a friend of the film’s central family. In commemoration, the surviving teenagers call a local DJ and request Bob Seger’s “Against the Wind.” The DJ obliges. The family sits around the radio in the teenage daughter’s room and listens to the song; they crank it up. Marcus notes how cinematic it is for a documentary. “Rituals cross over,” he writes, “one, of how you are supposed to behave when a friend has died, another of how you are supposed to behave when a star has played your favorite song. It seems inescapable that the latter ritual has contained the former.”

State Champion’s music swells with cinematic crossover. It’s diegetic to itself.

It’s infused into these scenes:

You know how to smoke, but not, when in resting position, how to hold the cigarette. You know Sweetheart of the Rodeo is major, but still don’t quite get it yet. There isn’t a volume knob in your arsenal that goes as loud as you need.

You know how to roll a joint, but not that you shouldn’t break it out in front of the house show police are already looking to ruin. You are terrified of being unfuckable, but still you’re happy. You’re careful not to crest too soon. You take David Berman very seriously and you should. There isn’t a volume knob in your room or your car or the bar that goes as loud as it should.

You work in a mall. You work at the university. You never get the cool restaurant or record store jobs. The volume knobs don’t go loud enough.

Drummers tell you in confidence which bands are about to break up. Coworkers say more anti-Semitic things than you thought you’d ever hear. They look at you expecting cahoots. You wish you had a warmer jacket and something more to say. You embrace Warren Zevon as a link between your childhood and this adult life you were slow off the block for, and you’re right. The volume knob goes no farther right.

Boredom is a struggle, if a luxurious one. But you enjoy being alone. All the famous scenes in music history were only really a summer or two. No one invited you.

The Smiths are great, The Potatomen greater. Sometimes too loud is too much to bear.

You appreciate that your car remains in good repair.

A band from Louisville comes through town. They’re a few years older. They’re loud. They’re so loud. They’re more than that. A ritual of communal basement amp explosion. A ritual of front porch solitude.

How do you behave when you hear feedback in response to your worship? How do you behave when you realize you can glean more from feedback than from clarity? You–in moments when this band’s phrases stampede through your head, when all that’s required of ritual is ecstatic flailing, stiffening, shouting–become loudness itself.

Don’t Leave Home Without My Love
Wake Me Up
There is a Highlight Reel

This album is Essential Listening. Digital from Amazon, iTunes. LP from Sophomore Lounge.

Ryan Davis (State Champion, Sophomore Lounge Records) Interview – 5/15/15

State Champion don’t just take up space, they fill it. I listen to State Champion and think Oh, right, music is supposed to sound this good. What fuckery are other bands wasting time with?
davisinterview1

A lot of that fullness is due to songwriter Ryan Davis’ eye/ear/nose/fingers/toes for story. Davis’ lyrics lead double-lives as coffee-soaked short stories and violently howled hymns. There’s a heritage that pinballs between song-haunted fictioneers David Berman, Barry Hannah, and maybe most of all, zinester and writer Hunter Kennedy. From about 1992 to 2012, Kennedy wrote and edited The Minus Times, a zine/journal of modern fiction, illustration, poetry, pre-Florida Man absurdist news stories, and interviews. There’s one David Berman story in The Minus Times about a guy going to a bonfire after arguing with his girlfriend; he chops at a log in the fire with another log and says “You see, the log is trying to hold itself together. The log doesn’t want to burn. It’s freaking out. This is a bad night for this log.” In the first issue, Kennedy printed a newspaper clip that read “An Eastover man drowned Tuesday afternoon when he stepped into a Lower Richland County pond to rinse mud from his clothing.” When I listen to Davis’ songs, I hear a lot these type of lines; lines you can see in print, lines that explain themselves until they’re stark naked and yet, still, remain mysterious.

From Deep Shit, 2011: Bottom of the Bleak

So, in celebration of State Champion’s forthcoming album, Fantasy Error, Ryan was kind enough to give Ninebullets some time for an interview. I thought it fitting to do the interview Minus Times style. These are the five questions Hunter Kennedy asked all of his subjects over the years–from Stephen Malkmus to Stephen Colbert to Chan Marshall to Vic Chesnutt. Thank you, Ryan, for your kind answers!

1) A family trip that made an early impression:

My parents took me to England when I was seven. In retrospect, I think I was a little too young for it. I remember complaining a lot about how much walking we had to do and generally just wanted to swim at the hotel pool and eat McDonald’s, but we took a day trip one afternoon to visit some extended family in the English countryside. I would perform “shows” for them in exchange for a few quid, which I would collect over the course of our stay and spend exclusively on chocolate candy bars. Fast forward 20 years and I’m basically doing the same exact thing except that now it’s in exchange for our standard pay of “two free PBRs per member”

I also remember my dad taking me to the Tate Modern and being enthralled, primarily, by their collection of Francis Bacon paintings. He bought me a postcard from the gift shop, I believe it was one of the Pope images (I should check, I still have it), and apparently I studied that for hours, trying to copy it by scribbling my own distorted Bacon-like portraits of people on the flight home.

2) A dream you can’t shake:

It’s only ever so often that I’m struck by a dream I can even remember. They tend to escape me pretty quickly, if I retain them at all. I can recall a few from over the years though. I dreamt once that Jennifer Aniston and I were climbing this ladder up a couple stories tall so that we could jump into a gigantic bowl of Caesar salad. Still think about that one sometimes.

From Stale Champagne, 2010: Keeping Time

3) An awkward moment with a neighbor/ stranger/ lover:

We were on the start of a tour back in Spring of 2013. Our first night was at some little fest in the suburbs of Chicago on the night that U of L squeaked past Wichita State in the Final Four. I’m a huge fan of college basketball, specifically the Louisville Cardinals, so we all had a blast watching it and this win meant a great deal to me. Two nights later, we were booked to play a house show in Bloomington, IN. When setting this show up a few months prior, I hadn’t even considered that if we made it to the championship, we’d be just an hour away from home (in Bloomington) on the night of the game. We were playing with excellent psychedelic homeys Thee Open Sex, so I hated to cancel, but I also hated the idea of missing out on such a culturally seismic celebration if we were to win. I’ve watched these games with my friends and family for my entire life and it’s always an important part of our year.

Anyway, we decided it was ultimately in our best interest not to cancel the show, so we made sure the game was on upstairs while the bands played in the basement. We were the jocks of the party, screaming and high-fiving and standing on things and drinking heavily in pursuit of a comeback that would soon result in our third national title. It was nothing short of glorious, and the celebrations continued through the night. To be honest, I couldn’t even tell you where we went after the show. Probably some bars on campus, I don’t know. But by some path of action, we ended up in a graveyard across the street from the house where we had played. We continued to finish off whatever beverages we had as we wound ourselves down from the intoxicating elation of victory and called it a night.

The next morning, I awoke to the sound of spraying. I was under a tree, alone, surrounded by empty bottles and cans and trash. Doug (Douglas Ryan, of Animal City) and Sabrina had apparently been unable to sleep as soon as the sun rose and had walked back to the house, hours earlier. It was 10:30 am at this point. I look to my right, and witness the source of the spray — a middle-age man pissing on the front of a tombstone. He meets eyes with me, penis in hand, and says “Hi! I’m Tom. What’s your name?” “Ryan,” I said. “Are you ok?” he asked me. I told him I was fine. He asked if I was going…somewhere. I didn’t understand what he said, but I was starting to gain cognizance at that point and realized that he must have been under the impression that I was homeless, using the shade of the cemetery as temporary refuge. I think he was homeless as well and, in retrospect, that he was probably asking if I wanted to go with him to a shelter of some sort. I said “No, thank you. I’m going to go find my friends.” at which point he shook the rest of the pee out of himself, zipped up, and told me to have a good day as he walked off across the graveyard.

I cleaned up the beer cans, dusted myself off, buttoned my own pants, and emerged from the tree in search of our van.

4) A missed opportunity (or second chance):

I was invited to participate in the on-stage theatrics of a Flaming Lips performance at a festival in Poland once, but I opted to take a cab back to the hotel and check my e-mail instead. No regrets.

5) Two artists you respect & a movie you’d pay to see but they’ll never make:

Michael Andrew Turner and R Clint Colburn. Stroszek II: The Search for Bruno’s Gold.

From the Horse Paint Cassette, 2008: Bite the Dus

fantasyerror

Fantasy Error comes out on 5/26. Pre-order the LP now from Sophomore Lounge Records. Look for our review of the album and part two of our interview with Ryan Davis in the coming weeks. In the meantime, GO SEE State Champion on Tour:

MON, MAY 18 // THE GOLDEN PONY (HARRISONBURG, VA) 181 N MAIN ST W/ PALM + BANNED BOOKS + Z PLAN + FRESH HELL

TUE, MAY 19 // MILLHOUSE (PHILADELPHIA, PA – CONTACT US FOR ADDRESS) W/ WHAT NERVE + WELLBOYS + FLOAM

WED, MAY 20 // THE HALF MOON (HUDSON, NY) 48 S FRONT ST W/ MAIL THE HORSE + PAT LINNAN

THU, MAY 21 // UNION POOL (BROOKLYN, NY) 484 UNION AVE W/ SPECTRE FOLK + MILK DICK + MAIL THE HORSE

FRI, MAY 22 // HARLOW’S (PETERBOROUGH, NH) 3 SCHOOL ST W/ FOOTINGS

SAT, MAY 23 // OUT OF THE BLUE TOO (CAMBRIDGE, MA) 541 MASSACHUSETTS AVE W/ PILE + ANWAR SADAT + CROWN LARKS + LAIR

SUN, MAY 24 // RATSKELLAR (DOVER, NH – CONTACT US FOR ADDRESS) W/ RICK RUDE + IDIOT GENES

MON, MAY 25 // PSYCHEDELICATESSEN (BURLINGTON, VT) 156 N WINOOSKI AVE W/ PAPER CASTLES + DJ DISCO PHANTOM

TUE, MAY 26 // THE FUTURE (BRATTLEBORO, VT) 17 ELLIOT ST W/ GRAPE ROOM (EX-HAPPY JAWBONE/GREAT VALLEY) + PAPER CASTLES

WED, MAY 27 // HOLY FRIJOLES (BALTIMORE, MD) 908 W 36TH ST W/ DRAG SOUNDS

THU, MAY 28 // 123 PLEASANT ST (MORGANTOWN, WV) 123 PLEASANT ST W/ THE FURR + CULTURE THIEF

FRI, MAY 29 // DECCA (LOUISVILLE, KY) 812 E MARKET ST (RECORD RELEASE SHOW // FREE // DONATION SUGGESTED) W/ SAPAT

OSTROV's TOP 10 OF '11

Top 10 Albums:

25. J. Mascis – Several Shades of Why

24. Ruby Coast – Whatever This Is: They made their first EPs while still in high school, but their first LP is mature, polished, and a blast to dance or drive to. (free music alert)

23. Algernon Cadwallader – Parrot Files: Rips off Cap’n Jazz the way Colossal ripped off American Football. The first midwestern emo analogy on ninebullets? I dunno.

22. Tin Armor – Life of Abundance: Smiths meets Big Star, a gorgeous and fun album that fans of Frank Turner will love.

Tin Armor – Plain Limbs

21. Bomb the Music Industry! – Vacation: How do you like your Brian Wilson worship–from tip-toeing nerds like Animal Collective or from the endlessly savvy band geeks of BTMI who actually have something to say? (free music alert).

20. Elway – Delusions: Rock from Fort Collins CO, think Arliss Nancy played for punx in basements instead of drunx in bars.

19. The Underground Railroad to Candyland – Knows Your Sins: Horrible band name, amazing sound. What a “teenage symphony to god” sounds like these days.

18. The Decemberists – The King is Dead: Without changing all that much, they expanded their appeal to a whole different kind of pretentious people. Those swayed by this album, check out Meloy’s flawed-but-lovely college country band, Tarkio.

17. Tommy Stinson – One Man Mutiny

16. Austin Lucas – A New Home In the Old World

Austin Lucas – Darkness Out Of Me

15. Chuck Ragan – Covering Ground

Chuck Ragan – Wish On The Moon

14. Joey Cape’s Bad Loud – S/T Demo

13. Sharks – The Joys of Living 2008-2010: They’ve toured with Ragan. For fans of Gaslight, Social D, Psychedelic Furs.

12. Jon Snodgrass & Friends – Tri-State Record, or Five-State Record, depending on where you live or how much you like imports

Jon Snodgrass & Friends – Campaign

11. Josh Small – Josh Small’s Juke

Josh Small – Everyone’s Daughter

10. Laura Stevenson & the Cans – Sit Resist: Brilliant pop that swings between indie and roots rock. Glorious voice.

9. Matt Woods – The Matt Woods Manifesto: A better album than Steve Earle’s.

Matt Woods – Port St. Lucie

8. Shane Sweeney – Shane Sweeney – The Finding Time

Some Hope, Somewhere

7. Guy Clark – Songs and Stories (Live): Document of how great his recent songs really are. How does a band still have this much fun 30 years into the game, after they’ve already mastered it? This could be what Lucero sounds like in 20.

6. One Hundred Dollars – Songs of Man

5. Wild Flag – Wild Flag: Two of the best guitarists in the world and, by far, the best drummer.

Wild Flag – Something Came Over Me

4. P.S. Eliot – Sadie: Alabama lo-fi college rock. They’ll be broken up by the time you read this. Seriously. I’m sad. (free music alert)

3. State Champion – Deep Shit

State Champion – Bottom Of The Bleak

2. Madeline – Black Velvet

1. Glossary – Long Live All of Us

Top 10 Lyrics:

8. “This is why we fight, this is why we lie awake…” ~ Colin Meloy/The Decemberists, “Why We Fight“: Because he didn’t finish the line with “at night.” The whole album is a textbook on restraint, which is so much more exhilarating than excess.

7. “My sister lost a friend over something like an invitation.” ~ State Champion, “Old Green Room”

6. “My heart aches, but only on the third beat.” ~ Madeline, “Hurry Up, Pronto

5. “Like a Roman, you lived it.” ~ Jon Snodgrass, “Weighing in on St. Michael“: Simple and beautiful and never sung before.

4. “Never trust a hotel clock!” ~ Joey Cape, “Montreal“: That’s how you make a road song relatable. Take note, touring bands writing only about touring.

3. “I know your pain and share your pain, let’s have soup together.” ~ The Pack a.d., “8

The Pack AD – 8

2. “If there’s two things that I hate, it’s having to cook and trying to date. Busting ass all day to play hurry-up and wait.” ~ Jason Isbell, “Codeine“: A response to the Pack a.d. line.

Jason Isbell – Codeine

1. “I cannot even do one sit-up, sit-ups are so bourgeoisie.” ~ Stephen Malkmus, “No One Is (As I Are Be)

Top 10 Daytrotter Sessions (pony up):

5. Cheap Girls

4. Naughty By Nature

3. Sharks

2. Frank Turner

1. Caitlin Rose

Top 10 Books (that I haven’t read yet):

3. Diane Keaton – Then Again

2. Bob Mould – See A Little Light

1. Chris Bachelder – Abbot Awaits

Top 10 Web-Comic Strips (of the handful that I follow):

2. Liz Prince – Alone Forever #42:Aloneth Forever

1. Mitch Clem – Nothing Nice to Say #450: “Jaded Asshole!

♥. Liz Prince – “I Don’t Know How to Say Goodbye

Top 10 Guitar Hooks:

1. Oh No Oh My – “Again Again

Top 10 Things Ever:

1. Drag the River name-your-own-price digital store. Finally hearing the b-side of the out-of-print Gabba Gabba Hey Buddies!

Top 10 Things Coming Next Year:

8. New albums from Gaslight Anthem, Cheap Girls, Sharks, Menzingers, Hot Water Music, Magnetic Fields, John K. Samson (of the Weakerthans), Teenage Bottlerocket….

7. The Promise Ring reunites and releases rarities album.

6. Tim Barry left Suburban Home, but if he had to go somewhere else, Chunksaah Records, run by The Bouncing Souls, is the sweetest destination. Barry’s first album on his new label is due next year. The Bouncing Souls themselves are going into the studio with Bill Stevenson and should have a record out in 2012, as well.

5. This year, Craig Finn of the Hold Steady shacked-up in Austin, listened to some Nick Lowe, saw Alejandro Escovedo live (a Texas rite), and recorded. So his solo album next year has a chance to be incredible or just the same.

Craig Finn – Rented Room

4. The DTR full-band album that was supposed to be built off the 2010 DEMOnS sessions?

3. The long-homeless Cory Branan album to “drrrrrop this Spring?”

2. Lucero – Women and Work

1. Franz Nicolay – Do the Struggle: Prepare for the next Sign ☮ the Times

STATE CHAMPION – DEEP SHIT

The thing would suddenly stand before him, strange and terrifying, demanding that he name it and name it justly and be judged for the name he gave it.”

~ Flannery O’Connor, The Violent Bear It Away

Louisville’s State Champion are out to name some shit on their second official release, Deep Shit. And they did that shit fucking justice. (Be aware that I’m going to continue cursing because this is some badass fucking rock-roll garage-barn hacksaw-kickback shit, and good rock and roll turns “cursing” into “cussing” and cussing is hella fun…) Fuck!, this album is good. I’ve convinced myself that it’s ok that I’m using such easy language in the review, because the album isn’t nearly as lazy. The phrases that jump out of this album–

  • “I live in a dark town with no babies,”
  • “I wanna scream at the dogs—and if they’re mean, well, fuck ’em, I guess,”
  • “I can smell the coffee burning on the burner/but all I wanted was to sleep some more,”
  • “There’s no magic anymore, no magic if there was any before/I found out I was hollering the wrong words,”
  • “My sister lost a friend over something like an invitation,”
  • “I’d do anything for money”

—they’re strange and terrifying because their so goddamned NORMAL. That’s the deep shit. Of course it’s found in a garage in Kentucky. Of course it sounds like shit you’ve heard every day of your life. They’re naming what’s in front of your face all the time, the shit that only seems sudden in the moments when you have to face up to it: I’m a whore, home isn’t home, it’s another weekday. It’s music that makes you proud to be so wholly fucked—the true aim of rock, am I wrong?

Sonic kin to Eleventh Dream Day, Dinosaur Jr, Silver Jews. Control of the first person point of view to rival Tim Barry. Stories—retching, tar-water-chugging, tarnation-punching, southern ghost stories—to make Flannery O’Connor cast off her crutches, sprint to church and back. Good riddance to the goddamn gout! she’d scream.

State Champion, Essential Listening. Existential Listening. Deep Shit doesn’t stop at distilling some essence of Place or Providence or Rock and Roll—Deep Shit is the record of an existence that cannot account for any of those things, and cannot live without them.

State Champion – Bottom Of The Bleak
State Champion – No Magick
State Champion – Old Green Room

Buy Deep Shit from iTunes, Buy Deep Shit from Amazon, Buy Deep Shit direct on vinyl, State Champion’s website, State Champion on Facebook, State Champion’s tour Tumblr