April Featured Artist: Patrick Breiner

Patrick Breiner is a tenor saxophonist with an array of fresh ideas who performs regularly in Brooklyn and other parts of New York City. His animated performances and personal touch are designed to establish a connection with each individual member of the audience. He is gifted not only as an instrumentalist but aims to be “a performer who specializes in music.” His Sulde label, featuring the design of Connie Wang, brands his unique aesthetic in handmade packaging.

Breiner leads and co-leads a number of innovative groups. His band Double Double, a quartet with two basses (Will McEvoy and Adam Hopkins) and drums (Flin van Hemmen), is set to release its debut record, Mileage at Korzo, April 1, at 9 pm. He has released three records with his solo act, Vartan Mamigonian. He also co-leads the group VAX set to release its second album, Count to VAX (vinyl only) at Downtown Music Gallery, March 30, 7 pm, before embarking on a European tour (details below). He also co-leads Premoticon (with a new record out last month), and Sons of Daughters.

Upcoming Live Performances in New York, Germany, and France

  • Mar 30: VAX at Downtown Music Gallery, record release concert!
  • Apr 1: Double Double at Korzo, record release concert!
  • Apr 3: How to Make a Mountain (with Josh Sinton, Adam Hopkins, Martin Urbach) at I-Beam Brooklyn
  • Apr 10: VAX at Naherholung-Sternchen in Berlin, Germany
  • Apr 11: VAX at Bunker Ulmenwall in Bielefeld, Germany
  • Apr 12: VAX at Roter Saal im Schloss in Braunschweig, Germany
  • Apr 13: VAX at The Loft in Koln, Germany
  • Apr 14: VAX at Kunsthaus Rhenania in Koln Germany
  • Apr 15: VAX at a Pop Up show in Paris
  • Apr 16: VAX at Altes Wettburo-Dresden in Dresden, Germany
  • Apr 17: VAX at Galerie Kub in Leipzig, Germany
  • Apr 18: VAX at Ex ‘n’ Pop in Berlin, Germany
  • Apr 19: VAX in a secret show in Berlin, Germany
  • Apr 24: Double Double at Launch Pad

Interview with Patrick Breiner at his apartment in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn, NY, March 11, 2014

Cisco Bradley: Where are you from? What steps did you take to become a professional musician in New York?

Patrick Breiner: It’s funny being called a professional musician when I’ve spent way more money on the music than I make playing it. At certain points in my life it’s been just the opposite where I make most of my money teaching and playing, when I was in Madison [Wisconsin] for instance, but now it’s pretty much a pet project. I’m also doing more now, though. My family is from Ohio, I was born in Columbus. We lived there until I was 10. And then we moved to Baltimore and I grew up in Towson from 10 to 18. I started playing saxophone in fifth grade. It was just the one that I thought looked cool. After I started playing it just clicked pretty quickly in terms of the basic stuff, getting a sound, being able to perform the stuff you do at that age. I slowly became more interested in things. I went to a couple of camps. I went to the Jamie Aebersold camp in Louisville in 2000. And then in 2001 I went to the Berklee five week workshop in Boston.

CB: And you were how old then?

PB: That was the summer before my senior year, so I was 17. By that time I knew that I wanted to do music, but I had no idea what was going on. My knowledge of what was out there musically … I look back on it, it’s almost embarrassing. I went to these Jamie Abersold and other workshops back then. Those were the records I was buying. I got a ton of Eric Alexander and Don Braden. Really straight ahead, like bop-Nazi type of stuff. Don Braden used to play with Freddie Hubbard. Eric Alexander used to play with Harold Mabern, the pianist who was on a bunch of Lee Morgan records. And Eric is one of McCoy Tyner’s guys that he calls … he’s coming from George Coleman (Coleman was Eric’s mentor). That’s what I came to New York to do. I went to the New School beginning in 2002. I did four years straight there, studying with Eric.

CB: 2002 to 2006?

PB: That’s exactly right. I came up here with stars in my eyes. The things I thought were going to happen to me in New York are so hilarious to me now that it blows my mind. I thought I was going to move up here and that the teachers at the school were going to think I was amazing. I wasn’t. I wasn’t even remarkable among the students in my class. I wasn’t even remarkable among the horn players. I wasn’t even remarkable among the tenor saxophonists in my class! I realized very fast that the idea that I would be in a practice room with Joe Chambers walking by and have him say, “You busy next week? You want to be on a record?” that fantasy dissolved immediately. I also had a fantasy that I would go up to Club Smoke in Harlem and get a job waiting tables so that I could just be around those guys … you’d have to kill someone just to be a dishwasher in one of those places! It’s so competitive to get any gig. Right away I thought I need to figure out what is going on. I began spending a ton of time on music. I arrived at school at 7:30 every morning and was probably playing 12 to 14 hours a day for the first two years at least. And here I am! [laughs]

CB: Expectations were one thing, then, but what was your experience? While you were in school did you make a lot of connections along the way towards doing the type of music you wanted to do?

PB: I’m still surprised that I’m doing what I’m doing because it took so long to get here. A lot of people who play more adventurous music have been listening to adventurous music for a long time, but I haven’t! I was a jazz snob up until I was 20. I thought Ornette Coleman was B.S. I just didn’t know because I had never really listened to it. The little bit I had heard, I clearly didn’t get. I spent a ton of time on bebop and swing and I wanted to be able to improvise in a traditional jazz context but I wanted to be really free, I wanted to do things that didn’t sound like they were prepared. Some great examples of that were Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh. Somehow in all of this my friend Matteo Sabatini, an Italian saxophonist who was at the New School (we were there together), he recommended I take some lessons with Tony Malaby. I didn’t know who that was! Matteo’s stuff is super modern jazzy, really straight ahead.

CB: This was 2004?

PB: 2004 or 2005. So, I got to Tony’s place. We went upstairs and put our horns together and Tony said, “So, what are you doing here?” I told him just what I told you now about Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh and he said it again, “So, what are you doing here?” [laughs] I felt like there was a lot of stuff in my brain gumming up the works. Preconceptions about what music was supposed to be, what jazz was supposed to be. He just started removing barriers … he was doing brain surgery. He would ask me stuff like, “Have you ever tried to sound like a wounded animal? Why not? Try to do it now.” Working on my time and my rhythm that made it very personal for me rather than trying to contextualize it … like Lester Young had this kind of time feel and Charlie Parker had another time feel … and trying to contextualize it historically. Tony gave me some exercises to work on that helped me develop my relationship to music and the instrument. The ended up spending a lot of time with him. Everyone that I studied with after that … I just felt freer, more myself, having him lead me closer and closer to myself. The experience of the New School was great … I was in New York. I was meeting new people all of the time.

CB: Where did you go to hear music?

PB: When I was first here, Small’s was still at its old location and it was just $10. You could stay all night and it wasn’t a bar, so it was B.Y.O. You would go down there, bring your own beer, liquor, whatever, you could still smoke down there. It was a cave … it was a wonderful place. There was a bar there, but no alcohol. What they had were mixers … they had cranberry cocktail, Coca Cola, and Sprite and you could put a dollar in a cup or it was free, I don’t remember. I would go hear Jason Lindner there, he had a big band that played there regularly. Kurt Rosenwinkle was there regularly … Mark Turner. I was going to the Fat Cat a lot when they still had a separate room for music, before it was declared a fire hazard. I remember Kurt and Peter Bernstein had a weekly gig there with Ben Street on bass and Joe Strasser on drums that was really strange. I went to that a couple of times. I saw Kurt’s band just before Deep Song came out. I was going to the [Village] Vanguard a lot. I would go hear Paul Motian’s bands whenever he played there. I would go to check out Fred Hersch. Actually one of the first times I ever heard Tony was with Fred and Ralph Alessi, Nasheet [Waits] on drums, and John Hebert on bass. I was going to a ton of straight ahead stuff. I was going up to Club Smoke a lot on Tuesday nights because Eric Alexander played there every Tuesday with Joe Farnsworth, Peter Bernstein, and Mike Ledonne. When I was studying with Eric one summer and made a lot of progress, he asked me to sit in at Smoke. It was like a dream come true. At a time, they would call me up. I’d grab my horn and by the time I got to the stage they would have called the tune. It never failed, they never called a tune that I had ever even heard before. Not only had I not heard it, I didn’t know it, I didn’t know what key it was in, I didn’t know it. I was on stage with these dudes that I was idolizing. I would still be putting my horn together when they counted off and played the melody and the first chord. That was the first time I heard it. It was incredibly nerve wracking. It’s just how they did it. The process got me listening to bebop and hard bop and made me very analytical. I got really good at processing and internalizing chord changes, forms, things like that. I did that a hand full of times. A little while later, I began studying with Tony and I just thought, “forget that! I’m doing something else!” [laughs]

CB: Tony really got you onto a different track?

PB: Yeah. I just started going to hear different types of concerts. I was going to hear him a lot, so I checked out Tom Rainey and Mark Helias. Just going and hearing Tony led me down this other rabbit hole!

CB: Did you play with Tony?

PB: My lessons consisted mostly of us playing duo. I have played a few gigs with Tony. He has been gracious enough to play with a few of my bands. But it mainly consisted of us playing together in his living room or his dining room. It was like training with a coach. We would be playing and he would stop me and say, “What are you doing?”

“What do you mean?”

“You bailed. I needed you to support me there and you bailed.”

CB: So it was about interrelationships?

PB: It was about listening and being really honest with yourself about what you can do to contribute the most to the music. Sometimes that means accompanying somebody and sometimes that means just sailing. Launching and swallowing the mouthpiece and just going and sometimes that means shutting the hell up! He was always kind and gracious with his criticism but was always very honest and very real at the same time which was something I appreciated. I never thought there was a method to learning to improvise freely but he just drilled me. It was awesome. [laughs] We would just try things. He would say, “let’s get back into that zone we were in and you accompany me, whatever that means.” So I would do that. And at other times we would be playing and he’d stop me and say, “Where did you go? I was accompanying you and you bailed. I am going to accompany you. You are out front.” He talked about music having shapes a lot. He held up his fingers in the shape of a triangle. He talked about being in Mark Helias’ band Open Loose. In traditional jazz groups the bass drums would be along the bottom of that, whatever in the middle, and the horn at the top. And he said that in that band he tried to play right in the middle of the triangle. It’s about the band sound, not about one person that’s carrying it all the time. He also talked about rhythmic bubbles. This was awesome. Again in a context of Open Loose, each of them could be playing in a different time space in a different rhythmic bubble. Each would be playing in a very different way, but they would be happening at the same time. Each player would be doing their own thing but thinking about how they might relate to one another. We practiced this a lot—you set up your own bubble and make it strong enough so that when you leave it you can come back to it. I realized, for instance, that I don’t need to play 8th notes that match the drummer’s quarter notes. I just need to give the drummer what they need. If they need me to be on top, that’s where I’ll be. If they need me to be inside that sound that’s where I am. If they need me to be underneath that sound, lifting it up, that’s where I am. That’s the kind of stuff I did with Tony. He was like a drill sergeant, it was awesome. We did a gig at Cornelia Street [Café] with Will McEvoy, Eivind Opsvik, and Juan Pablo Carletti.

CB: Where did Tony live when you were taking those lessons?

PB: In Jersey City off the Journal Square PATH stop. From the New School it was pretty easy. I would take an hour lesson with him and it would take up 3 ½ or 4 hours of my day, it was pretty cool.

CB: Did you start to put together your own bands around that time?

PB: Yeah, right when I got to the New School I started putting things together. The first thing I did was with the drummer Tim Monaghan. All the guys were from the New School. So, the first thing I did was with Tim and Chris Tordini. We were all freshmen. Then we added a trumpet player about six months later. Then my friend Taku Kuroda came to the New School. He just put out a record on Blue Note. Then a year later, Ben Greenberg came. So it became a quintet called Rickshaw Mama.

CB: So you were taking the things you were learning at the New School and with Tony and used the band as your experimental space?

PB: Yeah. At first I was burnt out on jazz music and I wanted to do something more aggressive. But then I realized it didn’t need to be the negative response to something else. This is just its own thing and can be positive. I remember playing some of that music for Tony and having him be really real with me. He asked, “Do you play anything tender?” And my first reaction was, “No, why would we do that?” At that time, it wasn’t something that was on my radar. I also played in a lot of other bands with people at the New School, some of whom I am still playing with now. Myk Freedman, who plays lap steel, he writes really short songs. He has fakebooks of his own tunes, he’s written hundreds of them. And David Moore, he runs a band called Bing and Ruth that I’ve been in since 2005 or 2006.

CB: Are there any recordings of your early music?

PB: Yeah … somewhere! When Rickshaw Mama was first playing, I would make a CD-R of the concert and just give away 10 or 15 copies at the next concert we would play. So that was my first foray into the kind of stuff that I am doing now. We have some of that stuff up on MySpace.

CB: You finished in 2006. Then what?

PB: I just bummed around New York. I was living with my ex-girlfriend in the West Village in an apartment. It was tight, on Hudson Street at Barrow. I was working at a horn shop in Midtown. Awful! [laughs] I was making $11/hour, maybe 25 hours a week? You do the math. [laughs again] I didn’t like the way they did business. I wasn’t playing many gigs that I remember, lots of weird stuff like wedding gigs in the park. I was playing a lot with Max Goldman, who is a drummer, and Jeff Ratner, who is a bass player. We had a trio that we called Basement Magic because we met every Wednesday at 10 am in Max’s basement playing standards. Just memorizing tons of tunes together and trying to find fun, interesting ways to play those tunes. I was also in a band called Nook, an electric band with Kenny Warren on trumpet, Jeff again on bass, James Windsor Wells on drums, and J.P. Schlegelmilch, a great keyboard player and composer, and we put out a record right before we left. I also put out my first solo saxophone recording. So that’s the stuff I was getting into in New York from 2006 to 2008 and then I left. Emily got into grad school in Madison, Wisconsin, so we moved out there. It was cool, tons of my friends gave me a really hard time about leaving New York, “It’s career suicide! What are you doing?” Emily and I had been together a long time and she had stayed in New York because that was where I wanted to be and then she wanted to go to grad school.

CB: What did she go there to study?

PB: African Language and Literature.

CB: A very famous department.

PB: Yes, the only African literature department in the U.S., I think. So, anyway, we were there for three years. All my friends were giving me a ton of grief about it. Some were serious, some were joking. The only person that didn’t do that was Tony. He just said, “Get out of here! Go have an adventure. Go to another city and do some stuff other than music. It was really inspiring to hear him say that. It turned out to be the best move I ever made for my music and my career. I booked my first tour when I was out there. When I got to Madison, I found that everyone there already had their saxophone player. It was hard to get into groups, but I eventually found some musicians to play with. I won’t go into the good and the bad, but there are some awesome musicians there.

CB: Is there anyone who stands out that you would like to mention?

PB: Yes. Paul Hastil is an amazing piano player. He grew up in Queens. He used to play with Dave Binney way back and he took lessons with Jaki Byard. He is the real deal. I also played with the pianist David Stoler. I believe he was a finalist in the first ever Thelonious Monk competition. He’s a really awesome straight ahead keys player. I was playing a lot with a drummer named Michael Brenneis. A great drummer and vibes player named Geoff Brady. A great bass player named John Christensen. Another awesome bass player named Nick Moran. I was playing a lot with a great guitarist named Luke Polipnick. He lives in Omaha, Nebraska now. He hipped me to a lot of great music and introduced me to a grip of great musicians in Minneapolis. Adam Linz, Chris and JT Bates, Mike Lewis, Davu Seru. It was a very different vibe. I remember having a hard time getting people together just to play. People would come if you had a gig and depending on how much it paid maybe come to a rehearsal, also depending on what the music was like. So I put together a couple of bands while I was there. I would leave town a lot and tour. The first gig I ever booked was in February 2009 with Basement Magic. They drove out to Wisconsin and then we did a week of dates that took us to Cleveland and then they continued back to New York and I got on an overnight train back to Wisconsin. Those kind of things would have never happened if I had never left New York.

CB: So, you started your solo project when you were in Wisconsin?

PB: Actually, way back when I was in New York. I released my first Vartan Mamigonian record in May 2008 and then I left in August. I had recorded it in January and then I put it out a couple of months later. The music changed when I was in Wisconsin. The way I practiced was different. We rented the bottom floor of a house, I could make a lot of noise in there. If I had played that loud in my New York apartment it would have been too loud for me! I would come back to New York and play with my friends. Kenny Warren looked at me after one gig and he looked … concerned. He said, “You been practicing?”

“Yeah.”

“Sounds like it!”

I just stopped caring about what I sounded like and I was concerned with trying to play in a certain way. In Madison, nobody would notice if I sounded like Chris Potter, for example, because nobody knew who he was. Or Mark Turner. Or Tony Malaby. So there was no point in making those references for the effect of it. That was quite liberating.

CB: Was the plan to always come back to New York?

PB: Not exactly. We didn’t have a plan. We moved back to Connecticut first and lived with her dad, then she moved to South Africa and kind of bounced around. It didn’t make sense for me to stay in Connecticut. I had talked a lot about never coming back to New York since it is such a grind and such a hustle. In Wisconsin the quality of life is so much better and the cost so much lower. I thought what is the point of putting myself through this bullshit? I thought about moving to Cleveland, Baltimore, Philadelphia. Friends tried to convince me to move to L.A. and I pretty much laughed in their faces. L.A. is not the place for me at least not right now. Chicago? I ended up subletting a bunch of apartments in New York while I sorted it all out. Then a room opened up on Marlborough near Cortelyou and I could stay there as long as I wanted. And by then stuff was happening in New York and I thought this was the only place I could be. Bing and Ruth was rehearsing and recording music, Travis Laplante called me up to get started doing music for his new band Battle Trance and we launched right into that. We were rehearsing two or three times a week for the first few months. I was also helping book the Radio Zero music series at the Sycamore. I realized that all of my people were here. My best friends live in this city, my closest musical collaborators live in this city. I couldn’t go somewhere else and do what I do. And I don’t have the interest in going somewhere to be a jobbing musician, playing wedding bands, events, that kind of thing. For better or worse, I don’t have that kind of thing going on here, so it forces me to put out my own records. So, that’s what brought me back to New York, my people. So I was here by August of 2012.

CB: So, how did you develop the various projects you are still working on now?

PB: Premoticon. Yeah, Will [McEvoy] and I met at the Knitting Factory in the Old Office. His band was playing before Rickshaw Mama. That’s when Will was studying with Helias, so we were going to a lot of the same shows. He was already working on music for Mutasm and asked me to do it. That’s when he was still studying at Sarah Lawrence. He would drive down to the Village, pick me up, and drive back to Sarah Lawrence for rehearsals. It was a totally different lineup then. It was me and Will and Dustin Carlson playing guitar, but the other three dudes were different. And then we just started hanging out at his place in the South Bronx after he finished school. The first Premoticon CD was recorded in an empty loft next door to the loft he lived in. He lived in an industrial space that he and his friends built up. It was my home away from home when I came back to New York from Madison. I knew a few tricks and I could get in the front door even if I didn’t have a key. So Premoticon just grew out of us hanging out, eating, drinking beers, and talking about the scene. It’s definitely evolved since then. Sons of Daughters started when I was in Wisconsin. I kept hearing about Devin [Drobka] and Aaron [Darrell]. We hit it off right away. When they moved back to the East Coast, we booked a little tour to keep things going. When I first moved back, Aaron was in Boston, Devin was in New York, and I was in Connecticut, so we were playing a lot, traveling a lot. Right as I moved to Brooklyn, Devin moved back to Milwaukee, so everything evaporated and we lost steam a bit. And Vartan [Mamigonian] started out when I was listening to a lot of Evan Parker. I was trying to push the envelope a bit in terms of my technique and my relationship to the instrument. There’s also a guy Gianni Gebbia, an Italian saxophone player, who does some pretty crazy solo stuff.

CB: He was also an inspiration?

PB: Yeah. What else? Double Double started when I was in Madison and driving to Chicago quite a bit. I wanted to see what I could do with two bass players with one guy playing really high argo lines while the other guy was playing low or whatever. So, I started writing music. I was driving to Chicago twice a month for a couple of months. I was playing that music with Quin Kirchner, a great drummer, and Daniel Thatcher and Anton Hatwich on bass. Anton is the bass player on Kyle Bruckmann’s stuff. So we performed that stuff only a couple of times, maybe only once in Chicago. I also met Dave Miller, the guitarist, while I was out there. He put together a trio of the two of us and Quin Kirchner that was super fun. We played a couple of times. We also played once with Caroline Davis and Charles Rumback as second drummer, so we were doing a lot of stuff in Chicago. So, anyway, the Double Double thing started there. I always had ideas of who I would like to do it in New York. So I got together right away with Will McEvoy, Adam Hopkins, and Flin van Hemmen. We ended up recording it in July. This CD is called Mileage partly because of the Madison to Chicago trek I was doing all the time to rehearse the music. About 4 or 5 days before we recorded the music, my grandmother died in Cleveland and the funeral was the day before the record. The recording was going to happen around 6 in the evening and we were going to go for about five hours. So, my sister and I rented a car and drove to Cleveland for the funeral, then the day of the recording, we got up at 5 and drove back to New York, I ran around all day getting stuff prepared, then we did it. I’ve been in the process of writing some fresh stuff, too, because I want to move on, especially now that we have a recording and it sounds really great. I put out most of my music on my Sulde label. I’m a control freak with my records. I like to put it out myself otherwise it doesn’t look like I want it to. Or I don’t have all of the CDs in my apartment and I can’t take them to gigs. It’s frustrating.

CB: And what about VAX?

PB: Yes, let’s talk about VAX. We’ve done two and a half gigs in New York.

CB: What’s the half?

PB: We played at Jake Henry’s Sounds and Sounds series at Launch Pad in January of last year. And immediately afterward we set up a house party at Devin’s place. Then we went into the studio the next day to record the first record, The Sooner We Jump the Better. A month after that, Liz moved to Germany. That band is a funny band. This guy Paul Lichter puts together concerts and he used to own a jazz club in Maine. He runs the Maine Jazz Camp that Bill McHenry used to teach at for a long time. That’s how Devin and Liz know one another. They’ve known each other since they were five years old. Paul heard me play with Pride of Lowell in Maine and we got to talking about New York. He asked me if I knew Chris Tordini—who had been my roommate for two years—and he said he wanted to get Chris, Liz, Devin, and me up to do a gig for a series of gigs that he does between Christmas and New Year’s. Tordini couldn’t make it so Liz, Devin, and I did it as a trio. That’s the first time I met them. From there we launched! It took us a while to figure out what we wanted to do. What we eventually came up with was we sat in a circle and each came up with three ideas and make a piece out of that. That’s what the first record is. Immediately things got really theatrical. We wanted to do things that were spoken and Liz always wears a dragon mask. I’m in the process of making puppets, so there will be puppets of each of us that we are going to sell on the road. And not just sell them, we are going to use them on stage. So we are doing Skype rehearsals for that right now.

CB: Can you talk about the relationship between movement and music for you? You seem to be a particularly animated player on stage.

PB: I want people to know I’m into it! I hate going to gigs and see people on stage who look like they are asleep. One of the things that happened when I moved to Wisconsin was that I realized that one of the things that I really needed to work on was my stage presence. I sucked at being on stage and introducing a band. Part of it was that I realized that I was so serious. And when I was trying to be funny, I wasn’t funny because I was being snarky and telling jokes only the band would get … and then the band members get uncomfortable. A lot of musicians are really, really bad at being on stage. The energy I am trying to project is meant to go outwards and I feel that the movement … helps. I think of myself less and less as a musician and more and more as a performer who specializes in music. I want to give myself as many opportunities as I can to connect with an audience. They don’t need to all happen simultaneously. And there are a lot of options sonically when you look at movement. The Doppler thing with the solo saxophone set. I think that has caused more people to react in a really positive way than the music even. A lot of people have come up to me afterward and said that that affected them much more than the music itself. You shouldn’t necessarily cater your music for your audience necessarily, but they are the ones that are experiencing it. It all started by reminding myself to smile on stage!

CB: What’s next for you?

PB: No idea. VAX is rolling really hard and we’d like to keep the momentum going. We’d like to apply for residencies at theaters so that we can workshop what we are doing. There are a lot of little venues in New York connected to non-profits doing this sort of thing with residencies of various lengths. We also don’t want to just be considered a free jazz band. We want to explore as many opportunities as possible. The next thing for me personally is upping my game. It’s been very apparent to me working with Travis Laplante. He started a band called Battle Trance with four tenor saxophones. In terms of someone bringing in music for people to learn, this is the deepest and heaviest music I’ve ever experienced with a vision that is so clear, with techniques that are so personal and difficult. He plays tenor saxophone in Little Women with Darius Jones. Putting out this Double Double record with music that is several years old, I need to dig deeper and get more personal, get hyper-focused. Not just a song, I want to build a universe. That’s something I’ve never done before. I feel that Travis is doing that and that David Moore is doing that with Bing and Ruth. When I see Travis play, I think “he’s really doing it!” The first time Travis brought in his music he said, “I want to open a portal.” I thought, yes! What else? Well, eventually moving to a farm somewhere. I dig being close to my food. I worked briefly for a CSA when I was in Madison. We would drive 20 minutes out of Madison, work on a farm there. They just had two acres, only 30 or 40 members. Every time we went down there we got a huge box of food.

CB: One final question. Could you talk about the unique design of your albums?

PB: My sophomore year at the New School, Connie Wang was a freshman and we lived on the same floor and she went to Parson School of Design. So, we just met and hung out and went to parties together within the same group of friends. As she was getting closer to graduating, she sent out an email saying that she did design work and offering her services. So I sent her a solo saxophone record and I think she dropped some acid, listened to the record, and just made some crazy art. She sent me about 40 different panels and I chose the four that I used for the record. Clearly this is someone who gives a shit about what she is doing. So now anytime I need anything, I call her. I just wanted to have an aesthetic that was immediately identifiable with the music.

Selected Discography

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