Numbtongue Live at Papa Jazz

What’s the first album you remember loving as a kid?

Good Vibrations – The King’s Singers (not the beach boys lol)

What as the first album you bought with your own money?

Billy Dean “Its What I Do”

What was the first local band you were a fan of?

Hard question. I was a bit late to the local scene, so I didn’t really have any favorite local bands until 2009, when I got started in one. I’d say it’s a tough choice between Elonzo, Octopus Jones, and Can’t Kids. In HS I was supposed to be a fan of the Taxi Chaps/The Heist and the Accomplice because everyone was, but didn’t really get a hold of any of their music to listen to. Then I saw the live show at the Spring Valley High School gym way back in the early aughts, and I think watching folks near my age playing proper garage rock stuck with me. On that note, my old band with Alex McCollum ‘The Bloom’ played a battle of the bands in HS with this band called Autumn Overcast who’s live energy was awesome. I think they changed their name to The Gilded Age at some point or something. I remember being impressed by how tight they were for their age. I never owned their album either though.

What’s the most recent album you bought or have been listening to lately?

Small Talk – Sly & the Family Stone
Devendra Bandhardt – Ape in Pink Marble

What was it like reemerging onto the music scene with Numbtongue after Sea Wolf Mutiny ended and you stopped playing with ET Anderson?

Both experiences were a bit lonely and sudden. SWM was 6+years of life and soulcraft. ET was virtually on the heels of that, as it seemed a good way to stay active. It turned into over a year run. SeaWolfMutiny ending leaves twinges of regret, but the pace of which we were creating and the logistics of maintaining the band’s momentum became something in need of streamlining and it was growing more and more difficult given the band culture to get a second record off the ground, so we decided to regroup. With folks looking to move away for school indefinitely it seemed appropo to phase things out into hiatus status or change projects. Numbtongue was inadvertently born out of that. It is very much a sibling project of SWM. They both definitely live in the same universe in terms of their metaphysical projects. I had also been experimenting with some orchestral composition in and around the last days of SWM, and very nearly set out for a degree in composition, but for family and job commitments. Numbtongue (and a DAW) allows me the freedom to create and have as much (or as little ambition) as I want, which feels great.

ET started by my offering to play in a Facebook comment quite literally by chance soon after Numbtongue spawned as idea, and it turned into over a year of involvement in that band. The first 10 day tour took it’s toll in all the normal ways (and some unexpected ways) and with Numbtongue nascent within months of seawolfmutiny ending, I felt my time already getting divided creatively, and I didn’t see an end to that conflict. I tend to only be able to focus on one project at a time. Oddly enough, SWM was a strange culmination of previous songwriting I had been doing for 9 years on my own, and yet in the end an egalitarian departure from the style of my solo work. Most of that previous solo work has never seen (and likely won’t ever see) the light of day. In terms of song craft, I’ll always say I was left the better for it to leap into creating with others in SWM, and pretty much learned everything I know about what to do and what NOT to do in that band. Yet it was unexpectedly refreshing to hit a musical reset button of sorts by joining ET, it being almost a shadow side of the same world I was creating in; mostly in terms of phrasing and chord progressions. As someone who often writes their weirder things from the piano, I was struck by the complexity of the compositional imagination and instincts on guitar in ET, just in terms of it’s melding rock & roll and esoteric jazz. ET’s clarity of sonic vision available when the songwriting and recording comes from one person was affirming to what Numbtongue was becoming parallel to it. ET was reminiscent of the music I wished I’d made when I was younger, and sounded like a lot of the bands I used to look up to in HS, as if I’d never left it all behind and someone else was just making it all the while. It was surprisingly easy to step into it’s being at first because of that I think. It shook loose some old brainwaves and confirmed many of the ideas I was already having, but wasn’t brave enough to try in SWM, and I just went with it and let myself go wherever I wanted. It was nice to become my only limitation.

But I think what finally sealed the deal in terms of how adventurous I let myself get with Numbtongue was encountering Ava Luna out of NYC via ET’s first house show and subsequent tour. Masters of their craft, making much of the music I was dreaming of making alone, but together, a few of them being my age and older, and learning about their process, humility, and achievements was one of the most creatively freeing experiences of my life, and getting to know them a bit on tour didn’t hurt either. I was the odd man out a bit in ET for a few reasons, and I tried to embrace that role as best I could, but I’ll be eternally grateful for the unexpected opportunity it granted me in meeting these folks. I was already done with two of the oddest songs on the first record now (Mirabal & Heart is Buried in my Head) by the time I met them and their music, and I was apprehensive about committing to those tunes because I knew they were strange for me. But alongside what ET was creating, being in a whole new musical epoch not 6 months after SWM stopped, hearing and meeting Ava helped me give into my instincts. I hope they never read this, since I’m gushing, as I tend to do about them, but its true lol.

So with Numbtongue, I intentionally didn’t put any expectations on it (nor will I continue to) but also didn’t want to let go of some of the ideas SWM had going, which there are echoes of such you can hear on this first Numbtongue record. Honoring them was just as much a metaphysical one as it was being a stubborn chord writer who can’t let go.

The album ‘Exhumation’ has been forming my whole life it seems, it being my only solo output ever, but it has fragrances of both bands throughout no doubt. Many songs were shards of SWM songs never completed that I rebuilt. 2016 ended up being one of the hardest years of my life and stalled the completion of ‘Exhumation’ by about 9-10 months unexpectedly, but despite setback after setback (financially, technologically, and personally) I was committed to finally finishing something on my own entirely. After having spent time creating with two groups with two entirely different processes, I’ve felt myself finally coming into my own as a songwriter in a lot of ways. I might drive myself crazy on my own in the end, but I haven’t written off creating with a band again. I’m playing with a great group of people right now to reify these latest songs. Things have turned into unexpected blessings of late and I’m just trying to ride whatever waves I can catch. Everyone is being immensely supportive and encouraging, which after 3 years scratching away at the mountain in isolation is satisfying. I’m distrustful of being allowed to feel this actually. But I’ve never been more excited about my musical future than I am now. Which, that doesn’t have anything to do with becoming famous. I just want to make good records, and have no one to wait on but myself.