by Eric Baylies
Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores are a long running, influential avant garde rock and roll jazz explosion from Providence. They have been blowing minds all over the world for over two decades. It was my privilege to speak with band band leader Alec to pull back the curtain a little behind the magic band.
Noise: Please tell me who is in the band and what they do.
Alec: Right now the band is a quartet. I play the accordion, MG1 and vocals, Ann Schattle on Horn in F, Chris saddlers on Contrabass and vocals, and Matt McLaren on drums. We are smaller than we had been in the past, which leaves Chris and I a lot of room on the sound for pedals and effects.
Noise: Give me some background on how the band originated and how it got to where it is now.
Alec: Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores started with a totally different objective. It was the mid nineties and I had been leading a band called Amoebic Ensemble, which played wild carnivalesque avant prog with weird instrumentation. Fellow Amoebics Matt Everett, Mark Pedini, and I started the Eyesores in 1997 as a sort of singer songwriter alter ego project. I was on the other side of a massive hard drug spinout and wanted to talk about it in song form. The first record contains a lot of embarrassingly on the nose material pertaining to that unfortunate circumstance. Meanwhile, Amoebic Ensemble began to dissolve in a cloud of anger and resentment. Most of the friendships have been salvaged via time and negotiation.
Noise: Negotiation is good! How did the band get to where it is now?
Alec: The Eyesores grew into a six piece and we started to record and tour. Matt and Mark left the band after a year or two and I took over as the main songwriter. Matt had contributed songs before that. It was around this time that we discovered another band called The Eyesores. We added my name and became Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores.
Noise: Are you guys recording any time soon?
Alec: We’re recording with Keith Souza and Seth Manchester over at Machines With Magnets. It’ll be our 4th project working with those guys (Sister Death, Exterminating Angel and The Smother Party were all recorded at MWM.) I tend not to get involved with the engineering end (beyond the demo phase,) but in terms of production, I’d say it’s been a collaboration between the engineers and ourselves. In some ways this is a continuation of the ideas we were developing on the previous record, but I’m looking to capture the energy and spontaneity of our live shows on this upcoming session.
Noise: Does this mean you are recording live, old school?
Alec: Aside from vocals we’ll be the full band live in the studio, so I’m hoping some things that we haven’t planned for end up happening. At the same time we’ll be isolated enough to make fixes and to mess with things in post (re-amping etc.) I’m hoping to get a little dub/psyche action happening in the mix phase. As for influences, there are plenty, but at the same time I’m trying not to overthink it. I’m hoping something new will grow out of it.
Noise: Can you tell me anything about the songs on the new record? How did they come about?
Alec: We are going into the studio to record our first new record since 2012 next week. It will be called The Opposite. All of my focus has been on finishing and rehearsing the band for this recording. It’s an interesting collection of songs. A good deal of them were written to an old and primitive drum machine, so repetition plays a big part. This batch of songs deal with chaos, duality, fear, magic, gnosis and other-worldliness. I’ve been involved with a large amount of esoteric research over the last few years, and there a lot of themes, references and wordplay dealing with this area. Unlike the Sister Death recording, we will plan on keeping overdubs to a minimum. We’re not sure about how or when the record will be released, but stay tuned for details.
Noise: Do you have any plans to tour soon? I know you have been everywhere.
Alec: We’ll probably plan on touring after the record is released. Most likely in Europe, but we’d also like to see what we can get going in the US.
Noise: Do you feel you should tour America soon before we all get deported? What the hell is going on in this country?
Alec: I am completely appalled by the state of our country after two weeks of being ruled by a demented reality TV star and his bloated, alcoholic, apocalypse-fetishist sidekick. On the other hand, the whole thing is morbidly fascinating and I can’t help but keep staring at it like it was an auto accident. As terrible as it all is, it may well be the wake up call that the left needed after nearly a decade of Facebook and binge TV hypnosis.
Noise: What do you think we can do, as artists and citizens?
Alec: I think the best response is to keep doing what we’re doing. Personally I’m going to keep trying to make music and art that speaks to people. It might not save the world, but there has to be a better soundtrack for the apocalypse than Lady Gaga.
Noise: I know you have been in several other bands. What other projects are you involved in currently?
Alec: The only other active projects I’m involved with are The Mansfield Hornets, which was started with being the goal of being the bar band alter ego of Alec K. Redfearn & the Eyesores, but is still has a strong psychedelic and avant rock sound. It features myself on accordion and vocals Jack Hanlon (Amazing Crowns, The Itchies etc.) and Matt McLaren on drums. Matt, Jack and I all grew up in Mansfield Mass and the band is named after our high school football team (though none of us played on the team or bore much interest in it.) I also play the occasional gig with multi-instrumentalist Steve Jobe and violinist Laura Gulley. Barnacled remains inactive, but we have all committed to 30 years. Mystery Red Inferno is the duo version of the full Eyesores featuring myself and Chris S (though it’s also what I call my home recording project.) We perform as duo with looped percussion parts. I’m hoping to get enough material exclusive to the project that we can make an MRI record some time in the future.
Noise: What other bands are your band mates in?
Alec: Matt plays with Big Biscuit and is also in The Mansfield Hornets. Chris Plays with Death Vessel and Trois Corbeaux. All of us are also members of Barnacled.
Noise: Thank you Alec for the interview and for all the great music over the years. Here is to many more!