The sphere of what constitutes punk rock has no doubt become a lot more encompassing within the last few years. While this has caused a few headaches and calls to “up the punx!” it has also given fans without their middle fingers in the air the chance to discover some great music they may not have before, while at the same time giving those making music the opportunity to branch out in different directions.
While members of The Static Age used to (and sometimes still) play punk and hardcore, the band isn’t typical within the scene. Then again, with bands such as AFI expanding their sound and getting only more popular, it may only be a matter of time before that all changes.
Sure, The Static Age might get their name from a Misfits song, but their similarities end there. The Static Age play heavily moody and atmospheric songs with a large dose of electronic elements thrown into the bag. Blank Screens is the third full-length amongst a handful of EPs and singles released by the Vermont-based group. Andrew Paley, who handles vocals duties for The Static Age recently took some time to discuss how the band has maintained their DIY ethics and managed to find themselves a quality niche within the punk community.
Blank Screens was recently released. How’s it been treating you so far?
I think it has been received well. I try not to read too many reviews, because it could [affect] the way [I write]. I treat it as a sideshow. People send me the good ones.
You just shot a video for the song “Cherry Red,” off of Blank Screens. How’d the shoot go? What’s the theme?
It was good and it was freezing cold. We had the misfortune of deciding to shoot our video over three days in upstate New York in the woods in an abandoned hotel. It was 20 degrees at night. My brother is a film director, and it was the fist time we collaborated. We just got stationed in the room and played with a bunch of ideas.
How do you see yourself fitting into the punk community?
I don’t know. It’s been an interesting dance we’ve done. When we started we set up DIY tours like we did with our older bands, and we ended up touring with hardcore bands because of everyone we [already] knew. We enjoy being the band that didn’t make sense sound-wise, but ideologically fit in.
I guess in some ways it might help to be the band that sticks out. The next morning when a kid was saying who was playing with band “X” they can say, “a bunch of punk bands, and that band with keyboards.”
Yeah, I think there’s almost a tendency to have this perception that if you are in a punk band, you have to tour with punk bands, or hardcore bands [have to tour] with hardcore bands. But my first show, when I was 14, was a Texas is the Reason show and they were playing with Madball. I was talking to one of the guys in Most Precious Blood — Justin Brannan — and he said something along the lines of, “There are so many sounds in your head, and you should run with them all. Life’s too short not to.” It was an interesting thing to say, especially from a guy from Most Precious Blood.
Post-punk music with heavy doses of electronic elements has been getting big, such as Hot Hot Heat and The Stills. Have you had the opportunity to jump to the majors?
When the idea of the band started based on songs I was writing, it was late 2001 and there was no post-punk revival. We started in the punk scene and because of the kind of band we are and because we have a keyboardist there was interest in the band, but we made conscious decisions to turn down certain labels. I’ve seen people I know get signed and exploited and end up not knowing who they are and their band falls apart. When this band started we made a decision to want it and really have to focus on it. So we made the decision not to pursue major labels.
You’re pretty media savvy — what role does politics play in the band?
The need is more and more with society. It’s always been there for me. I was always politically active, getting involved with campaigns, anti-war; I started an Anti-Racist-Action in my hometown. It was sort of there with last year’s record. During that year we were playing rallies. We were working with Music for America. But with Screens it’s in the content of the record. It’s not a conscious decision, but an evolution.
Is it a challenge to take your music and transfer it to the stage?
It’s interesting. This is the first album where we got into any sequencing. Previously, we got on stage and if the keyboard would have two parts and there was a part that had to be left out, so be it. Lately we’ve been talking about adding a fifth member to see if we can create the songs on stage [in whole].
How does The Static Age plan to close out the year?
We have a handful of shows coming up with AFI and the Explosion. We are doing CMJ and then doing shows in the Northeast. We plan on another full US tour and then a European tour that has been on the backburner for the whole year. We’ve been wanting to go for a few years, and it would be good to get there by February. Get the video out and see what happens, then record.