Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

Photo by Troy Critchlow

I keep noticing that a lot of my favorite records coming out have the name Graig Markel associated with them — production for and playing on Barton Carroll’s melancholy new album Together You And I and the dark, dazzling debut of Terri Tarantula. Markel has his own milieu, comprised of cobwebby but vivid Americana or noir electronic pop, or often even blending the two. A great example of that would be the latest release with his own band, Animals At Night, which has a cool track, “We Are Lights On The Way Out,” that was a KEXP Song Of the Day last week.

This Friday night at the Comet Animals At Night have prepared a deluxe live set with the band being joined by all sorts of special guests on stage, featuring material from the vinyl-and-download new album, Cut to Chase Chorus and Fade. Also on the bill are CMYK (ex-Long Ranger / ex Velella Velella), Mayors and Warriors (New York’s John Bosch joined by Head Like a Kite’s Trent Moorman), and NRDLNGR starting out the night.

“The official release was at the Crocodile on November 21st,” Markel says. “It was a great show with Head Like a Kite and Foscil. It was nuts. But this one is going to trump it.” Below are some more questions I asked him about the record, the show, and the carnival of excitement that apparently is Markel’s daily creative life.

Who did the album, and who will be in the Comet live line up?

Our official live line-up for this record is myself, Joe Patterson, and Josh Buesseler. We have guests joining from time to time. The Comet show will be Zera Marvel, Alexis Robinson, Merrill Schadt, Brent Amaker and John Bosch.

What do you know of the other bands, and how are they connected to AAN?

This is an exceptionally exciting bill for me, because everyone is so closely releated musically and are great friends, yet none of the names have played together so far. CMYK is Joe from AAN and Sylvia from Long Ranger / Velella Velella. She’s also the girlfriend of Josh who plays in AAN, and has collaborated on an AAN track, although unreleased at this moment. Mayors and Warriors is John Bosch, who used to play in my solo project. He is living in NYC now, but will be in Seattle playing with his new project. NRDLNGR is the solo project of Eric Nordlung of the Girls, a long time friend of mine. His stuff is amazingly funny and pumpable at the same time. He puts on an excellent show.

Any other special shows coming up?

No. This is it. Your absolute last chance to see the band, so make sure you come out to the Comet on the 15th. As a matter of fact, I hear that the city of Seattle will be passing leglislation to make music shows illegal, similar to Footloose, and soon the only activities allowed in bars and taverns will be drinking, eating, and socializing with others. There will be a 1 foot distance rule between individuals socializing, and touching is strictly prohibited. Music will not be able to be enjoyed within 20 feet of a bar’s entrance.

OK, smart guy. Love for the Comet? Don’t get funny.

The Comet is a great venue because it’s notoriously a punk rock bar, and cutting loose will be mandatory. You can count on a crazy show at the Comet and a great time.

More about the album?

Produced by myself in the Recovery Room. Contributors include Dave and Trent from Head Like a Kite, Larry Knechtel (legendary Wrecking Crew- credits include Beach Boys “Pet Sounds”, Elvis Costello, Jackson 5 and other L.A. era Motown hits, Elvis Presley, Simon and Garfunkel, fave studio musician of Rick Rubin and many many more), Terri Moeller (Terri Tarantula, Transmissionary Six, Walkabouts), Daniel G. Harmann, Jeffrey McCallum, Merrill Schadt, and Alexis Robinson.

Hot damn! That’s quite a team. Hey, what’s your CV of recent, noteworthy other productions for other artists?

I produced and recorded the new Barton Carroll, Zera Marvel, Elba, Daniel G. Harmann EP, Terri Tarantula, Quakers on Probation, Cookie Cutter Blowout, and many more in the last year.

How is Cut To Chase different from your previous work?

This album is different in the fact that in the past my songwriting and vocal work has always been used for my solo project, and the Animals at Night was more of a DJ / electronic thing. The mixture of peanut butter and chocolate is a super tasty thing. The sum of this combination makes a tasty concoction that is more delicious than the parts alone.

The packaging is beautiful but challenging. Where can the listener get a get a full sequence (or link to it?). And please name three of the most striking songs for yourself — ones you’re particularly proud of.

Recommended tracks: “The Emperor’s Dirty Clothes,” “Tiger Stripes,” “Great Escape.”

Any artists that you were listening to that helped inspire the songwriting/recording? Or is this just you being as creative as possible with others in the studio?

Head Like a Kite, Fresh Espresso, Mad Rad, Cinematic Orchestra, Emitt Rhodes, Light in the Attic Records, Numero Group records (in particular the Eccentric Soul series), Gil Scott-Heron, Dirty Projectors, Passion Pit.

Give me a little 411 on the pedals and boxes you build — including the Cookie Cutter Blowout, the Mountain Dew can, and any other crazy dub-gizmos.

I make pedals that sound cool and will help you pick up the chicks. There is not a full guarantee on that last part. They are different from other manufactured pedals because they are completely point-to-point hand-wired. I use vintage new old stock and USA parts whenever possible. Lead free solder! I sell them under the Recovery name. The pedals I’m focusing on right now are the following:

“Dust to Burn” Overdrive / Distortion pedal
“Lights on the Way Out” Tube Preamp
“The Emperor’s Dirty Clothes” Square Wave Distortion pedal

{Photo by Troy Critchlow}