New Radiant Storm King
Hurricane Necklace (Grass)
An interview with the Peyton Pinkerton, Matt Hunter, and Garrett Fontes
by Austin Nash
photo by Derek Kouyoumjian
You guys have worked with many different labels. How are you enjoying your stay with Grass?
Peyton: Most of them were just singles that we did one-offs with. Such as Chunk, Trixie, and Magic Eye. Axis was our first label, and we put out one record with them, one record with Homestead, one record with Grass, and the new one on the new re-incarnated Grass. It’s too early to tell how we’re doing with Grass. We’re seeing our record on things, but people still aren’t really coming to our shows, or the right people aren’t. They spend a lot of money in one area, but it seems kind of wasted. It just goes off into limbo. Grass is really trying to reorganize.
Peyton and Matt, you two are graduates of Hampshire College in Amherst. What did you think of the Indie rock scene in North Hampton and how did it influence the development of New Radiant Storm King (NRSK)?
Peyton: I would add to this that Garett went to U-Mass at the same time.
Matt: Virtually nil. We were isolated on campus playing for about 2 years before we ever had a gig off the campus. We played music for our friends and shit. We never really thought of it like this. Even though we knew we were good, I never thought I’d be here doing this now.
Peyton: The scene is that there never was a scene. It flourished for about two years when people thought it was cool, and then it just died. There are about as many good and bad bands as there ever were. A couple of years ago we packed in a couple hundred people at a show. At the last show, I think about 12 people came. Boston’s our hometown now as far as playing shows.
Matt: There are some stable foundations there. Ray Mason’s been around for a while, but everybody that’s done well is gone.
Peyton: You’ll still see J [Mascus] pop into a club every now and then, or playing golf. I went to school there knowing some of the history of the area musically, I was a big Dinosaur [Jr.] fan obviously, but we didn’t play Northampton ’til my fourth year of college. It’s just a place were we bought records, drugs, oop… pizza.
In research, I came across numerous comparisons to bands like Pavement, Polvo, Mission Of Burma, and Sonic Youth. Certain reviews call you slacker-friendly and categorize you as Indie Rock. Do these comparisons hold any water or stir up anything in you?
Matt: Both. They hold water and yeah… they stir up shit.
Peyton: I like all of the aforementioned bands, but when I read reviews of us, I usually feel someone is just trying to condense the music into a paragraph. To compare you to another band saves the reviewer interesting sentences that could be used otherwise.
Garett: It’s easy to make a comparison like “loud guitars and melodies.” When I see these comparisons, I see little flag words, like these people are one step out of the circle. It’s somewhat of a mystery. I’m glad to be compared to Mission Of Burma.
Matt: AC/DC had loud guitars and melodies but we don’t sound like them either.
Peyton: We still have yet to actually be asked about our music or the sound, about what our music means to us. Not how we arrive at what we arrive at. Yeah, the Homestead thing, you see Homestead and that’s the Indie Rock thing at it’s core, and that was very important to me back in the early days when I was in high school trying to get out there. But I’d only heard little bits and pieces of music, and then I heard this Homestead sampler. It changed my life right there. I bought every record on Homestead, even the Death Of Samantha record. Many people won’t admit to that. So sure… some bands describe themselves as Indie Rock, but I would never do that. They want to be a part of that little country club. I recognize that we’re considered part of that. I never think of a specific chord as the Indie Rock chord, you know. Striped T-shirts and suede sneakers.
Often times the fruit of collaboration is compromise, but NRSK has a focused and comprehensive sound throughout Hurricane Necklace.
Matt: In terms of developing a sound, it’s an afterthought. Peyton and I have been playing together for years. When it comes to playing, you learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses. You instinctively learn what works and what doesn’t. But there’re still surprises.
Peyton: If you heard recordings of songs when we first practiced them compared to what ends up on the record, there’re many changes that they go through. There’s never been a whole piece, it’s always chopped up and rearranged.
Is Hurricane Necklace a pinnacle release for the band?
Matt: A pinnacle release in the respect that it’s our first release where all of the elements are attempting to go in the same direction. Our sound before was more dynamic in that there was always some piece pulling in a different direction, creating a tension that seemed to break a song down.
Peyton: It’s the first record where on the eve of its release, I was incredibly anxious. Before it was like, well, here’s another record. But this one, with the long time in between, obviously the line up changed. It’s the record that said, “No more sniveling, this is the record that’s you and you’re going to put it out and be judged by it from here on out.” I guess this could be like our Flip Your Wig.
Garett: It could also be Green Mind.
Peyton: Right. As to how we would describe it? We’re probably the three worst people to ask that.
Any planned events or landmark occurrences coming up that you would like the world to know about?
Peyton: If anyone is listening, we’d love to get on NPR. That’s all we want. Play for a couple minutes and talk, even Prairie Home Companion.
Matt: Yeah, we’d love to be on Prairie Home Companion. And we’d love, love to back up Springsteen. If the opportunity ever came we’d love to fuckin’ back up Springsteen.
Matt: Sincerely. Bruce? If you’re out there? We’re your men.
Does being in a band get you laid? Writing about them sure doesn’t.
Peyton: I’ve never had anything even in the foreplay realm from a show.
Garett: What about that hand job in Tucson?
Peyton: I think the only thing that ever happened was here (Middle East in Boston). After a show, I was propositioned by an underage girl who asked if I fucked as good as I played guitar.
Garett: God bless her.
Peyton: Judging from what some people have said about my guitar playing… go figure that one out. Sharpe used to (Elizabeth, former drummer). She was offered a threesome in Montana, but we had to drive.
Garett: I think when you start headlining downstairs at the Middle East, that’s when it happens.
Conversation turned to “Who is the lowest hung stud,” and the vote gave us Garett. No performance or physics involved. Matt can drink the most scotch. They want to beat up John Spencer Theramen and the Carl Hendrix Trio. “Fuck ’em in the ear. We’ll take them on!”