Premiere | Friend Roulette, "Black Hole"
Friend Roulette emerged as artistic forces that are known to arrange their compositions in styles and trends that are perfectly content with being off-step from much of their glamorous, media coverage hogging Brooklyn contemporaries and counterparts. All collaborations between Julia Tepper, Matthew Meade, John Stanesco and company have always existed in their own world. One where musical reinventions take a few steps above and beyond the yards outside the choir rooms and practice spaces of the world. Their releases from the inaugural I’m Sorry You Hit Your Head, Grow Younger, I See You. Your Eyes Are Red, The Matt Sheffer Songbook, Vol. 1 and more all showcase the group’s imagination igniting wanton abandon of prefabricated pop traditions and methodologies. The collective persistently excels with a seemingly celestial inspired talent for throwing aside the models and methods of the previous pillars of canonical influence to carve out their own theater that extends beyond history’s dusty and stuffy musical museums of tired hierarchies.
And it is today we announce what we have been told is “possibly” the last Friend Roulette album, titled I Want Out. Available November 16 via Pretty Purgatory, rumor has it that the album may very well be only available at their the release show November 17 at Elsewhere, otherwise available digitally for $4.20. According to the band they will be releasing singles/loosies exclusively after the release of the final full-length, so while this is no goodbye it does appear to be a dedicated restructuring of release economies, focuses and a concentration of innovative efforts. While I Want Out may be on the surface the absolutely gaudy and self-indulgent break-up album—it should only serve as a beacon of curiosity that points to future things to be further witnessed from all artists involved.
Which brings us to the world premiere for “Black Hole” where once again the NYC group operates on their own terms and according to their own self-ordained instruction. The curtain call formation is one that is woven with a wet and dripping tidal wave-sized surf guitar affectation that calls for the strings to interact with Friend Roulette’s own cultivated and organized symphonic cacophonies. Julia’s voice steps forward front and center as the group demonstrates a clever approach of throwing what seems like everything, up to and including, the kitchen sink into the mix. Noteworthy point of interest with “Black Hole” is how the group manages to manufacture a portal to a realm of peculiar density that emits an allure of uncertainty and intrigue of the unknown and what’s next. Allow Friend Roulette to transport you to the places of the in-between where it feels as if anything (and everything) can happen all at once.
Friend Roulette’s Matt Meade penned the following exclusive album manifesto for I Want Out:
Back in February of 2016 — maybe 2015 — we, Friend Roulette had a great offer to go do two shows in Virginia. Even though we love, love, love our audience in Richmond and Harrisonburg, a two show run wasn’t quite enough to make the drive make sense. So we contacted Alex Tebeleff of the band (and then house venue of the same name) Paperhaus about putting together a DC show. He had another idea. Record an album at his house. His bandmate Ricky had just moved into the basement with a bunch of mics, a huge mixing board, etc. We had new songs. It was just enough to justify the whole trip.
What I, Matt Meade, the guitarist in Friend Roulette, really loved about this session was that I was completely checked out. Up to this point in the band’s life, I usually played leader and in studio settings, I would spend my time pacing back and forth, staring at the clock watching the minutes pass, worrying if we were going to get everything done, worrying about the parts other people were playing…generally annoying the fuck out of everyone. When we headed south for this trip, I had just finished a good 28 days straight of working long hours and was about as tired as I'd ever been. When we arrived, I recall immediately going into my usual nervous studio mode upon walking into the house. Then I encountered Ricky. Ricky might be the slowest engineer-producer we've ever worked with. The pace was, okay, so that snare sounds pretty good, bass sounds good, let’s go have a smoke and then maybe get some guitar sounds, whether the band was smoking or not. I felt like there was a spliff sparked in between every take. It gave us lots of time to think about what we were doing...or not think at all. As soon as we had all the basic tracks and I had done my few vocals, someone gave me a Klonopin or Xanax or something and I just laid on the floor of the studio and went to sleep for 5 hours. I woke up around 11pm to the sounds of cheering and bottles being cracked, because the album was done.
Then we waited. Friend Roulette loves to wait. We just waited and waited until finally we decided to get Mr. Jeff Berner to mix it. We mixed it in one day with the guy and then we waited some more. I was on a boat in Mexico when I decided this album needed a 4th song. I knew very clearly what song It had to be as it was ringing in my ears. It was a song that John Stanesco, Friend Roulette EWI master, had written for his senior recital in college 6 years prior. I arranged it, Julia wrote lyrics for it, and we recorded it in my home studio. And then we waited some more, until we got offered some more free studio time to record the drums and bass to finish the track out.
Now we’ve got a four song record that only took about that many years to make. What these songs are about I don't quite know, but as I’ve revisited them, I’ve realized there's something timely about them. You might think “Black Hole” was written in response to the kind of shit we’re dealing with today with that shitbird we call president. "Clocks" is somewhat of a self-hatred self-realization song. “Wash n' Burn" has heavy escapist themes to it. And I think “Blacked Out” may just literally be about your cell phone dying while you're blacked out. There’s gotta be some useful metaphors in that. Anyhow, these are really just my guesses. Lyrically these songs are sparse, yet perhaps direct and incisive, too. We hope people will actually make something out of them for themselves, as we, Friend Roulette have resigned to letting them exist just as they are and nothing more.
I Want Out will be available November 16 via Pretty Purgatory.