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Cut holes in yr clothes!
PORCHES tha slapper god comes thru talkin' cool jawn mutilation, Kurt Cobain's genius, Tony Soprano's breathing, peaceable kingdoms, and other popping s**t
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I’ve got one major problem with Porches’ fantastic new album, All Day Gentle Hold!… The s**t is over way too soon, what the f**k!
As we speak, I am listening to ADGH! for the ~47th time since it dropped last month… I’m savoring these scuffed-up beautiful melodies, these sneaky riffs, these faintly wounded vocals, these obliquely funny lyrics… And then before I know it, the 11 songs are done and I’ve gotta smash the replay — only to have the same thing happen again 25 minutes later??
This might be the tightest album to dominate Spyplane HQ since Pusha T dropped Daytona, d*mn…
Porches, a.k.a. Aaron Maine, isn’t just an NYC synth-pop prince who “keeps ‘em wanting more” when it comes to these big chunes … He’s also a certified Mach 3+ clothes-rocker known to get off vintage fits with panache, whether it’s a shredded Accutane sweatshirt (all the way up top), a beautifully faded indigo Barney’s rollneck (above left), or — in the excellent video for “Lately” — a highly Spyplaney “Robby Müller Red” t-shirt TUCKED EXQUISITELY into belted jeans:
So U KNOW we had to hit up Porches on the mf Spyphone and discuss Mach 3+ topics such as cutting holes in yr clothes to make ‘em yrs; making an album for imaginary PACKED ROOMS in the middle of the pandemic; digging deep into Kurt Cobain’s genius; chowing down on Tony Soprano-inspired 2 a.m. meatball parms; fantasizing about inter-species fellowship… and much more.
Blackbird Spyplane: I was reading about how you wrote & arranged the new album under lockdown at the cribbo in Chinatown, but the whole time you were imagining yrself playing for rooms packed with people. You can really hear it in the songs…
Porches: “It was an interesting place to be making music from — I had to ask myself some big questions, like, you know, if I was even gonna continue making music, and if so, what that meant in a pandemic and under quarantine, and I had to take a look at what my music was doing for me, and what I thought it was doing for the people who listened to it.
“I was able to get to a really positive place where, if a song wasn’t joyful to make or play for a friend — why would I spend my time trying to push anything into the world but the most enjoyable thing? Not ‘easy listening,’ but I wanted to set myself a bar for emotion and energy and spirit.”
Blackbird Spyplane: It’s a way punchier and more revved-up album than Ricky Music, which came out right in the middle of March, 2020 — wild timing.
Porches: “Yeah, listening back to Ricky Music, it demands a lot of patience from the listener. Not that there’s anything wrong with slower, quieter music, but it felt almost annoying in hindsight for me to just expect that level of attention from the audience. So with All Day Gentle Hold! I had a really good time imagining the potential celebration of live music happening once lockdown was over, and thinking, What would be the most celebratory foot to put forward?”
Blackbird Spyplane: U rocked a very Tony Soprano fit in the “Do U Wanna” video, above left, and Tony’s in the lyrics on “Lately.” What does he mean to you?
Porches: “The first time I watched The Sopranos was the winter of 2018, and I wrote like 6 different versions of that little part that wound up in ‘Lately,’ just as a nod to spending a winter alone watching 3 hours of that show every night, then eating meatball parms at 2 a.m. because of all the food on the show—”
Blackbird Spyplane: Is the lyric, “Tony Soprano, I’m makin’ meatballs??” I know it can’t be, but that’s what my brain keeps hearing.
Porches: “Ha ha, other people have heard ‘meatballs,’ too, but no, it’s ‘Tony Soprano, I make-a me hurt.’”
Blackbird Spyplane: Mamma mia!
Porches: “I had these different attempts sitting around that I wasn’t able to turn into proper songs, but when I was writing ‘Lately’ I worked in the part so it feels almost like a dream sequence — it transports me back to that weird winter Sopranos haze.
“My feelings about Tony are complicated. The first time I watched it I struggled to like him, then I felt sympathy, but recently I tried to watch it a second time and it was a crazy different experience, like, I don’t know if I can spend so much time with this guy again. I remember hearing something, like, David Chase thought audiences were rooting too much for Tony, so they turned up the sound of Gandolfini breathing and all the grunts and snorts when he eats — tweaking these little audio things to make you like him less.”
Blackbird Spyplane: You’ve talked about going thru a big Kurt Cobain phase last year. I’m curious to hear Cobain through your ears — what about him as a songwriter became clear to you, or surprised you, when you made music under his influence?
Porches: “Surfacewise, from a production standpoint, there’s more distorted guitars and live drums and live bass on this record than maybe the last 3 Porches releases, and that came from listening to Nirvana for sure. That’s the format I first learned to make music in, so it felt comforting to not try and throw any wrenches in my wheels this time and go back to this familiar place.
“I think Kurt was one of the greatest melody-writers of our time, and that’s weirdly — I don’t wanna say underrated, but it’s overshadowed by the tragedy of his death and drug addiction. We hear Nirvana as these songs that were just plucked down from the Perfect Song Cloud; they don’t even feel like someone wrote them. But there’s a reason they took the world by storm, so I learned a handful of his songs, and I was so impressed by how they felt to sing, what the melodies were doing, paying attention to the chords and harmonies and dissonance. Because that stuff’s kind of disguised.
“With his lyrics, too, a lot of them feel like collages from whatever he’s written down in a notebook, and put together they create this mood you can’t put your finger on. They’re almost gestural, where, as a lyricist, you could get caught up trying to get a sentence across, but with him it’s more about the way the phrase sounds. That’s something I found myself trying to do throughout this record: get my head out of my own a** and create an almost physical feeling more than a literal meaning. That felt good.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Speaking of Kurt, you sent over a pic of yr favorite pants — a beautiful pair of TOASTED Wranglers that you told me “make me feel a little ‘Kurt Cobain’ when I slip them on.” I love the look of mended jeans, and generally speaking nothing you wear looks very ‘off the rack’ — there’s this real loose, lived-in feeling to yr clothes…
Porches: “It’s nice to have something fresh off the rack, but it’s hard for me to feel truly myself in it, so I wind up cutting a lot of holes in the things I buy. I’ll spill a little coffee or wine or grease on it, and instead of trying to wash it out I’ll just cut a hole.”
Blackbird Spyplane: O hell yeah, we call that the “Life Well Lived Mindset” but hole-cutting is some advanced s**t.
Porches: “I hated these jeans when I got them, which was 6 years ago now, then I wore them and they faded and I cut a massive hole out of the knee and wore them like that, and finally I brought them to my favorite tailor, Ramon. He’s on Forsythe and Broome, two blocks away from me. He’s tight.
“It’s fun to f*ck something up intentionally and have someone patch it up and get this weird Frankenstein… It feels more personal, or human, and I like that someone else gets involved, like, Ramon’s hand is involved in the pants, as well as the factory that made them, and my a** that molded them.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Ahaha peace to Ramon, peace to the garment workers and peace to your a** !! Visible mending is so dope. I know you do all yr own Photoshopping and merch design — have you experimented with sewing and mending yrself?
Porches: “I’ve tried, but I’m not great at it. It’s tempting to get a sewing machine but I know I’d go nuts and destroy half my clothes learning how to use it. It’s in line with the part of me that wants to mess with everything, whether it’s a song or a painting or a shirt. I feel the need to get in there and pick things apart.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Mending is often seen as one of these “decorative” “women’s crafts” that have been traditionally dismissed or ignored — which is a perfect segue into this Joyce Francis smiley sculpture you sent over. I had to look her up, but she operates, broadly speaking, in a “women’s crafting” tradition, making intricate, idiosyncratic art where she uses a dentist’s drill to carve nature imagery and filigree into acrylic blocks, then paints inside the carvings…
Porches: “Yeah, she seems like she falls into that hyper-labor-intensive decorative tradition, like quilt-making, where the labor is overlooked or considered busywork. My ex’s mom gave this to me as a gift, and Francis does way, way more elegant, tiny, intricate pieces than this one, but this fits me because it’s kind of dumbed down. I like the idea of her sitting there with these tools and saying, F*ck it I’m just gonna make this menacing, goofy smiley face.
“In art, definitely in songwriting, what seem like clunky, loud decisions — these big, bold strokes — can actually come from a really advanced practice, but you learn how to strip things down and self-edit.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Let’s talk about this Edward Hicks Peaceable Kingdom print you sent over. He’s a Pennsylvania legend & a “folk artist,” too — a Quaker priest who kept painting different versions of this bible scene, where a bunch of different animals link and build, as do some pilgrims and indigenous ppl… U told me this is basically the only thing you’ve ever hung on the walls, anywhere you’ve lived. Why?
Porches: “He did more than 60 versions of this painting, and I relate to the obsessiveness there, trying to get it perfect. And I read that he was really torn up about painting, which in the Quaker religion was maybe considered kind of frivolous, but he loved it so much that he kind of turned it into this penance, like a very repetitive practice —”
Blackbird Spyplane: Right, like monks who spend years copying sacred texts by hand…
Porches: “I relate to that — feeling guilty, from time to time, as an artist: Am I actually contributing anything? Is it work? Is it just some psychotic blessing I happened upon? And even if you don’t know the backstory here, you look at these paintings and you can see they’re hyper-emotional and kind of tortured and peaceful at the same time. Like, all the animals aren’t looking at each other, they’re staring right at you — or staring at Hicks as he paints them.
Blackbird Spyplane: Yeah and their gazes are really intense. Also, the encounter in the background is so charged — we know where the “treaties” between pilgrims and Native Americans wound up heading, but there’s a kind of alternate moment of utopian possibility captured here…
Porches: “100%. I remember this print hanging over our piano at home when I was 4, and when I moved out on my own, it’s the only thing I took, really. It feels good to have it around — like, whenever I go back to where I grew up, I see the curb and say, That’s where I launched my bike when I was 6. I can see myself out front, in a trippy way, and I think there’s that sort of feeling with this painting. I’ve looked at it through the same eyeballs my whole life, but in different places, and it’s still absorbing my thoughts, and I still notice new things about it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: And to close things out on the subjects of man-made animals with INTENSE gazes, what’s up with Tang & Rusty here ??
Porches: “It’s a similar thing: these are objects from my youth I’ve managed to hold on to. I’ll get real emotional if I look at Tang too long — his expression feels very human, not some goofy, over-the-top cute ‘stuffed animal’ face. I tore his arm off by mistake once so now it kind of droops down, and there’s different braids that people have done in his hair over the years.
Blackbird Spyplane: It’s amazing that you still have these. Every object we love has a piece of us in them, and when we lose something we love, I think there’s a part of us that goes away, too. Stuffed animals are a really potent example of that.
Porches: “It feels important to have a reference point, to help yourself remember that your life is longer than yesterday or the next day. It makes me feel less claustrophobic to have these little marks of how long my life has been, and where I’ve been, and how I’ve changed.
“I guess it’s kind of weird to still have a stuffed animal, but every time I put Tang away in a closet or something I’m like, Oh, you shouldn’t be there, you should come hang out.”
🌿 All Day Gentle Hold! is MAD GOOD and it’s coppable here (as vinyl, CD & download) and streamable all the places you’d expect.
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