by Eric Baylies
A long time ago in a galaxy a few towns away called Providence there once lived a band called Arab On Radar. They were one of the greatest bands in the world. Three out of four members of Doomsday Student were in that band (singer Eric Paul, guitar player Steve Mattos, and drummer Craig Kureck), along with guitarist Paul Viera. They have a new album out called A Self-Help Tradegy. I had the good fortune to board the mothership and speak with singer Eric Paul.
Noise: Tell me a little about the new record, A Self-Help Tradegy.
Eric Paul: We feel it is one of the more cerebral albums we have ever done. We also experimented with a lot of sounds on this record, which took some of the playing in what we feel is an exciting direction. The album was written the way we usually do things. We pieced together parts that stood out to us after night after night of improv. Similar to A Walk Through Hysteria Park it was recorded by Daryl Rabidoux at Radar Studio and mastered by April Golden at Golden Mastering.
Noise: When you started playing with Craig some 25 years ago, did you ever think your journey would take you this far?
Eric: When we started, I never, ever imagined we would still be playing together now. In fact, I never really thought we would accomplish half the stuff we accomplished. I think I speak for everyone when I say we all feel incredibly grateful that we have gotten to travel to so many fascinating cities, meet so many fascinating people, and have experiences that very few people have. I feel so grateful that people are or ever were interested in the music we make and that they still care enough that we can continue to release records and tour. As crazy as this journey (for lack of a better word) has been, we’ve always appreciated every second of it.
Noise: How long can this crazy train continue?
Eric: Honestly, I have no idea how long it will last. I can’t imagine a day where I don’t want to make records or have Craig, Paul, and Steve in my life in the way that I have them in it. I can imagine not touring – we already have slowed way down on that. But making records is still so much fun. Maybe, if we do stop touring, we will just make longer records.
Noise: Whats the craziest thing an audience member or members have done while you’re playing?
Eric: We’ve had a lot of crazy shit occur on stage. Embarrassingly, we were complicit in a lot of the behavior – so, it might be better to skip those stories. But one that does stand out occurred in Baltimore. We had just gotten off the stage and a young disheveled fan approached and in a very dramatic fashion took out a lighter, held it up and said, “I have always wanted to do this for you.” At first, I thought he was going to attack me but then before I had a chance to react he pulled down his pants and lit all his pubic hair on fire. After most of it had burned off he patted down the fire, pulled his pants back up and said,”I love your band.” The smell was horrible.
Noise: I bet! You have the most unique fans in the world! What’s the craziest gift a fan has given you?
Eric: Back in 1998-99 while playing in Arab On Radar, an artist from Philadelphia (it kills me that I can’t remember his name) sculpted each of us belt buckles that he called “The Four Stages of Arousal.” We wore them for years on stage and in photos. The artist took a mold of his girlfriend’s vagina during four moments in their lovemaking and made four separate molds out of each of the moments. He then cast them into brass, added wings to them and turned them into belt buckles. We all still have them. That was quite a wild gift. I remember he gave them to us when we played Brownies in NYC.
Noise: How did you get into music?
Eric: I imagine my crazy upbringing inspired me to live a creative lifestyle.
Noise: I know you have also written some books, have any been tied into your albums or will they in the future?
Eric: At this point the books have always remained a separate project. I’m not sure I see them overlapping any point soon.
Noise: Besides the touring and video, any other plans to promote the new album?
Eric: Not really. Just interviews, song premiers, video and shows. However, we are always open to promotional stunts – if you have any ideas let us know. Ha.
Noise: I think Doomsday Student should play at a pre school. Besides that you’ve written several books, is there anything else the band members do outside of the group?
Eric: Steve’s solo project is Chrome Jackson and Craig plays as Craig Wreck.
Noise: How long did it take you to write A Self Help Tradegy?
Eric: It took about seven or eight months with a few breaks in between. It was recorded in spurts.
Noise: I read somewhere that A Self Help Tradegy is a partial response to the birth of your son. Is there any truth to that?
Eric: I wouldn’t say the album was a response to the birth of my son. In one form or another I’ve been involved in making an album every two years for about 20 years now. But, I will say, a lot of the lyrics on this album are written directly to him and some of the images and more abstract stuff deals with all the insane feelings I had during my wife’s pregnancy, his birth and his first year. It was, to say the least, a wild ride!
Noise: Is this a big departure for you lyrically?
Eric: It wasn’t a huge departure, just a natural evolution. I’ve always written lyrics that dealt directly with whatever I was living through at the point in time that the albums were being written. If anything, it felt better to write about this than some of the past subjects I’ve delved into — the ones that dealt with my struggles with mental illness.
Noise: Are you going to do a lengthy tour for this record? Any plans to go overseas?
Eric: No! We don’t do lengthy tours anymore. I believe the longest tour this band has done is three weeks — it was our first European tour. Now, we like to do short tours of less than a week. It is just easier on our lives and on our brains. We do have plans or we have been talking of doing the EU in May of 2017 if all goes well.
Noise: I saw a video for the new single. How did that come about?
Eric: We have been working with this collective of filmmakers, actors, and artist that work under the name Planchette. Luke Boggia, one of the artists and filmmakers of the collective made the video for us. He had complete control — which is something we like to give all the artists we work with. He conceived of it and animated it. We couldn’t be prouder of it.
Noise: Are there plans for more videos from this CD?
Eric: Yes, Planchette is making us one more video. We are hoping it will be out by the end of November.
Noise: Thanks so much! Check out Doomsday Student’s A Self Help Tradegy on three one g records.