by Julie Smitka (@julieksmitka)
Sarah Reinold, Sarah Lutkenhaus, Sara Fantry, and Lani Combier-Kapel are no strangers to the Brooklyn scene. After Advaeta disbanded, Fantry and Combier-Kapel sought to continue creating rich, textural noisescapes driven by powerful vocals, but wanted to add a harder edge. Reinold had played several shows with Advaeta as bassist in her former band 7 Ton Hand, and Lutkenhaus (performing as Lutkie) was already known for sets of equal parts metallic resonance and melodic loops. Their collective stagnant energy culminated in Weeping Icon and their debut EP.
Eyeball Under embodies layers of varying exasperation that emphasize the depth of Weeping Icon’s sound. In the first track “Jail Billz,” Combier-Kapel repeatedly yelps over her snare “I’m not beautiful” and “I’m not afraid of you this time” in response to the male gaze. “Warts” takes on a lighter tone lyrically; while explaining how to keep a secret, Fantry’s and Combier-Kapel’s vocals are combined sonically in jest to liken the spreading of secrets to that of warts. “Inauguration” is one minute and forty-one seconds of suspense heightened by shrill screams, deep moans, cymbals, and augmented chords. “Germs” calls out entitlement between racing guitar and bass. The EP ends with a cascade of guitar, bass, and cymbals blended seamlessly into a decaying distortion.
I chatted with Weeping Icon about their recording process and sound, Brooklyn DIY, politics, gummy Smurfs, and centipedes.
Julie Smitka: What led you to write Eyeball Under?
Sara Fantry: We were all feeling lots of things. Anger for sure. A bunch of stagnant energy that needed a big release.
JS: Did that “big release” influence your process?
SF: We create really fluidly together, so constructing our parts was very free-form. We also have open discussions about things that we’d like to change around or try. Maybe it’s because we get bored easily, but we don’t like to do the same thing twice.
JS: One of the songs on the EP is called “Inauguration.” Do musicians have a responsibility to discuss or write about politics?
SF: I don’t think musicians have any responsibility but to make something that reflects their own tastes and creative impulses. Anyone is capable of creating art, and the subject matter can be as wide ranging as anything you experience. That being said, I’m personally very bored of brag art/art about people’s conflated egos. Why put something out into the world if you’re not trying to better it?
JS: What do you want people to take away from Eyeball Under?
Sarah Reinold: There is no such thing as too many Sara(h)s. [Laughs]
JS: How did you choose the title Eyeball Under?
SF: At first I envisioned an eyeball rolling under a couch. It means something now though [Laughs]
JS: Who are WI’s influences? Anyone you grew up listening to or have been listening to lately?
All: Moon Duo, Cocteau Twins, The Stooges, HSY, Peaches, Bauhaus, Sleep, Nots, Suicide, Broadcast, Russell Hymowitz, Swans, John Maus, The Ravonettes, CAN, Dick Dale, PC Worship, Coathangers, Bambara, Parlor Walls, Plaque, Ritual Humor, Pill, Gold Dime, Teen, Las Robertas, Acid King, Motown, always!
JS: What was the most challenging part of making the EP? Did you know what you wanted your sound to be?
SR: Hmmm, I don’t think we ran into too many challenges, maybe staying focused at practice? We spend quite a bit of time wandering the hallways of our practice space in the old Pfizer building and hanging out in the bathroom. We like hanging out with each other. The writing/mixing/recording process all came pretty natural. We worked with some great people while recording/mixing who were really able to understand what we were trying to do. Our thoughts and ideas were captured just how we wanted them.
JS: How would you describe what you’re doing with WI's sound? What keeps WI from being grouped in with riot grrrl projects?
SF: We generally call it noise punk. With the utmost respect for riot grrrl and all it gave to women in music, I don’t think we’re riot grrrl. Just because it was a very important movement in time and I feel like we’re outside of that bubble, in our own bubble, if that makes sense?
JS: Makes sense to me. We have our own movements happening in 2017, even if some of the sentiments haven’t changed.
SF: It’s interesting to me how our first EP is being received with so many ties to riot grrrl and feminism, without us even having a chance to identify as any of those things! We’re of course feminists, but it isn’t the benchmark vision of our band. Here’s something about us though: we always have hair in our faces and can hardly see our instruments. Also, this is probably unique: our official band food is gummy Smurfs, even though it’s almost zero percent food. And who has an official band food?
JS: [Laughs] Is it difficult to stand out in Brooklyn? Have you seen DIY change?
SF: Things have changed a lot in the time we’ve all been in Brooklyn. Most venues used to be in Williamsburg, now they’re mostly in Bushwick and Ridgewood. There was a lot of unchecked sexism when Lani and I started playing in Advaeta almost 10 years ago…we have some old war stories. But that’s really changing. Safer spaces efforts are really on the rise and the message of inclusivity has never been stronger. Brooklyn is a good home to anyone who doesn’t feel they fit in the box assigned to them. There are multiple awesome shows going on every night so it’s impossible to not feel inspired. It is also a good place to encounter centipedes.
JS: All the cool centipedes go to Brooklyn.
SF: I suspect centipedes are on the rise here, too.
JS: Want to shout out anyone?
SF: Shout out to you for asking us all these thought provoking questions! And maybe all our parents, families, friends, teachers, peers, people we ride the train with, pets, and enemies. Just kidding about the enemies.