I don't want to dismiss music that's meant to simply be...consumed out of hand. When I'm on a long-commute from my place in Park Slope to somewhere in Manhattan -- say the IFC Center which has become one of my favorite spots in the city -- I appreciate access to easily disposable pop music that makes being packed like sardines in a can (if I'd spelled that intentionally wrong, I could have made a Radiohead joke there) a bearable experience. But my real love is music that makes me ask questions, music that is capable of taking me momentarily out of its own experience to force me to contextualize what I'm hearing. And that's what "Smile" by The Absolute
made me do.
We had a chance to chat with The Absolute about their latest single, a piece of emotional and understatedly dramatic 90s tinged rock. The guitars feel like roaring lions in the depths of the jungle. You can hear them, in the distance, but they never get close enough to overtake you, and it builds tension in a marvelous way. And the vocals wrap an emotional vise around you as the singer's deeply emotive voice leaves its own indelible sonic imprint.
Check the single out below as well as our chat with the band.
We live in an age that tends to reject absolutes. Morally ambiguous heroes/antiheroes are all the rage. Why did you choose to be The Absolute?
The Absolute: The music scene, like nature, is eternally on a search for balance. When rock and roll was newly formed, the gods arose, e.g. Led Zepplin, Queen, The Rolling Stones, David Bowie etc.; larger than life entities that the individual listener could attach their feelings and ideals to. They represented how we felt and had the soapbox to express those feelings to the world when the average man couldnt. Over time, commercialism turned the next wave of so called "rock gods" into false prophets, e.g. hair metal bands. They no longer spoke to our inner hopes and dreams and their message reflected the selfish nature of our culture at the time. But, because art and life will always prevail even under the shittiest of conditions, a new breed of music started to bubble up from the underground. The anti-hero's like Bad Brains, Steve Albini's Big Black, Ian MacKaye and Minor Threat, Thurston Moore and Sonic Youth and of course Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. They were the answer to all the bullshit that was being pumped into our airwaves. They dared to hold a mirror up to society and told us to stop fooling ourselves. It was honest and because we as the audience knew this, it became popular. This began the next cycle. In this day and age, most "artists" tend to be followers so naturally the cool thing to do would be to copy and follow suit of these new anti-hero bands but the message of today's music finds itself being very insincere and lacking a message. Music in its essence is there to get us to feel something...anything!!! It is time for a tidal shift yet again. Today's anti-heroes have become everything their predecessors spoke out against. Today's message is apathy and lethargy. To complain but not to do anything about it. Aware of this, myself and the rest of The Absolute wanted to revisit the time of the rock gods. When Artists were larger than life and put on a show that left you emotionally and spiritually exhausted and fulfilled. They posed a challenge to their audience. Here is a problem, how will we fix it? The anti-heroes of today are too vague with their message and it gives the audience very little to attach themselves to. Though as artists we are always growing and changing we wanted a name that represented the fact that we have a mission and a message and we arent afraid of sharing that.
Much of the guitar work on "Smile" reminds me of mid/late-90s alt rock. Were bands from that era an inspiration for you as songwriters?
Seeing as how we were all born in the 80s and spent our important formative years in the 90s, it is no surprise that our music reflects the sounds of that era. Those teen through young adult years are when we start to find our individuality. This is when music is most important to us. We find out who we are and what we believe in through the artists of the time. The good music from the 90s blended melody with angst in a way that is lacking today. We set out to write good music that spoke to people, and as we got deeper into our writing process, the sound began to reflect more and more of the legendary artists of the 90's (as well as some of the rock gods of the 60's and 70's). We didn't set out to make music from another decade, but subconsciously that is what formed when we got in a room together.
We put a lot of emphasis on smiling in society. In fact, there's occasionally an unfair burden placed on women to smile lest they be marked as having "resting b**** face" or be told "you're so much prettier when you smile." What does "Smile" and the act of smiling itself mean to you as a band?
Smile became a personal mantra of mine. I even have the word tattooed on my chest. It is so easy today to get overwhelmed and caught up in our own negative bullshit. We forget to smile and to enjoy this unbelievable opportunity that we have been given called life. We only get one ride on this little blue planet and it's imperative that we enjoy it. Just the simple physical act of smiling can set off a powerful chemical chain reaction. Positivity breeds confidence which gives us the security to go out and accomplish what we want to do in life. Everyone finds themselves being insecure from time to time and when that happens we dont have the confidence to follow through. A common theme found in our music is that of a "positive apocalypse". The world cant keep functioning in this negative headspace. It is time to make a change. We know this is a lot bigger than just us as a band but it has to start somewhere. We spread our gospel at every show we play, and I try to spread the word on a daily basis with the word smile on my chest. When I am having a face to face conversation with someone my tattoo is a reminder for them to smile...or at least give it a try. :)