Upset The Rhythm

L.A.'s 'Drum-n-shout' band Foot Village holler and beat a cacophony of their DIY melodies

Text by Richard MacFarlane

Last time Los Angeles' Foot Village built an imaginary world with just drums and vocals it came out as a distinct sort of chaos; the human-centered rules of their made-up village are bashed out with an oblique approach to song forms. They occupy a particularly loud corner of The Smell-related DIY with a reckless sense of fun. On their new 'Anti-Magic' LP their yelps and screams take on a few more melodies and those strong ideologies get bolstered by even more fervor, insanity, but most of all humour. They've crafted a fantasy novel-recalling world of politics, anarchy and nudity but amongst all the depravity are solid senses of cultural response, DIY ethos and massively catchy songs. We talked to these LA underground heavies (citizens Brian Miller, Grace Lee, Dan Rowan and Josh Taylor) on account of their new Upset The Rhythm released album.

How would you describe Foot Village and what you stand for?
Dan Rowan & Brian Miller: Loudest Acoustic Rock Band Ever.

Josh Taylor: I agree with Dan although I also disagree. We always get lumped into a sort of hippy drum circle jumble and just the word acoustic adds wood to that fire. don't get me wrong, I love hippies and the concept of drum circles rules but in reality they really are just annoying and I hate them. ugh, drums circles suck! But drums rule! Where is the balance?

Grace Lee: It's the line between fantasy and love. It's energy in the form of four people in this crazy big world of excess and want. What we (we = I = Grace) want is energy blazened with a fucked up fun time, like when a bouncey house collapses to the side and people are sliding on top of you, crushing you, but the only thing you can do is try to breath but can't because your hysterically laughing so you can't breath.

At times Friendship Nation's drums came out almost like guitars; it was weird almost hearing melodies in each one respectively. Did you guys tried to further these dynamics on Anti-Magic?
Brian Miller: I think this phenom comes from cramming 4 poorly tuned drum kits of very poor quality into 2 speakers. While I can't say that we are specifically working on this, I personally am always working on making my drums crappier while the rest of the band works on making their drums classier, so that dynamic must only be getting weirder.

Dan Rowan: We already decided that if we ever "went electric" that I'd stil be playing drums. Hopefully not electronic drums though.

Josh Taylor: You pretty much nailed what we try to do. It would be so boring if we all played the same part or just added little fills into a main drumbeat (there is that drum circle concept again!) so we tend to take on other “instruments” in our arrangements. I like to be the bass guitar in the band although Grace is a much better bass player than me. Dan rules at the drums so he is usually the drummer and Brian gets to be the sexy lead singer.

There's a big element of cultural and political response with your music; do you feel increasingly inspired to work his way?
Brian Miller: 'Anti-Magic' is pretty big effort in this direction (at least as much as one can while still being fun... we're hardly Rage Against the Machine) but post-A-M stuff has been taking a distinct "party on" direction. Then again, "Fight For Your Right To Party" is a sick political anthem.

What's up with all the nudity? Is it along the same ethos as your track "Urination"? i. e. everyone has the right to urinate in public?
Brian Miller: Of course, everyone has the right to pee. Sadly, all that pee and morning dumps get washed straight into the ocean, and our oceans are suffering because of that (along with lots of fast food cups, Frito chip bags and the like). So yes everyone has the right, but it's really a comment on how (for me at least) public agencies need to spend more resources on providing decent facilities. But the nudity, yes nudity is great. It's really nice when my roommates are on out of town so I can walk around naked or in my briefs. Saves laundry detergent and electric bill. I imagine everyone does that...but only in private. That's too bad. Not that I want to live in a colony, but privacy really brings out who we are and wouldn't that be fun and really scary to knows those things about people, like how big is your cock or how pink is that labia!

I like how a lot of the lyrical content gets back down to basics in this way, like, shouting ideologies in a simple way; seems necessary in our current times.
Brian Miller: I get most of my sincere philosophical and ethical training from comic books. I'm especially into Geoff Johns lately, who has a knack for delivering some pretty intense ideas about existence with true Golden Age simplicity. I would be flattered if anyone thought our shouted ideologies came even close to Johns' level of genius.

How do you find the DIY scene in Los Angeles these days now that its a bit more well-known?
Josh Taylor: Totally the same. The kids rule in every aspect of it all! The shows are always fun and the people who run the shows are amazing! Nobody has a big head and it totally rules! Los Angeles is as awesome as Denver!

Brian Miller: Honestly, I wish that kids were more adventurous these days. The more well known LA acts can pack shows, but just a few years ago almost any show at the Smell would bring in a decent size audience of people wondering what's up with these weird bands. Fortunately, shows are still fun and rarely feel stuck-up. So the attitude is right.

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