Puff Pieces recently released their debut full-length Bland in D.C. It's an excellent record of 80's influenced post-punk that anyone familiar with the Lovitt or Dischord catalogue will enjoy. Rob had the chance to exchange a few questions with Mark Andre the band's leader and here is the conversation.
Rob 1340 (RF): Bland in DC is your second release as Puff Pieces, what sets this apart from your self-titled EP?
Mark Andre (MA): Nothing in particular, in fact, most of the songs on the LP were written around the same time as those on the single.
RF: Are new songs being written at this point in time?
MA: Yeah, about another album’s worth of material is mostly written, some of it doesn’t have lyrics or the structures aren’t completely finalized etc..
RF: This record was recorded in 2014, are there plans to record anything new soon?
MA: Maybe in the fall.
RF: What should we expect on the new record?
MA: Well, I don’t really know. If it gets recorded in the fall maybe by summer 2017?
RF: Being from DC, was there a specific moment that inspired the album title?
MA: Not any specific moment, more like a gray smear of many millions of micro-moments as the blandification process of DC has been going on for 20 years or so.
RF: Do you think that blandification is just something that has impacted DC or have you seen it elsewhere around the country?
MA: Well, I guess that any place where cash flow is given top priority, such as in any highly gentrified U.S. city, for example, is almost certain to be utterly saturated with the aesthetic of blandness.
RF: What glimmers of hope are you clinging to in order to keep yourself from being fully sucked into the blandification?
MA: I’m already fully sucked into it haha. I’m out here snorkeling in a shallow ocean of blandness looking at some dismal gray coral reefs. What the next step is I’m not sure...
RF: This album takes a hard turn after the first eight tracks to a different guitar tone, was there a reason behind the last three tracks difference in sound from the first seven?
MA: On the 9th and 10th song, the guitar is playing chords on the 3 lowest strings. On all the other songs, the guitar is playing on the 3 highest strings. Maybe this accounts for the difference in tone you are describing?
RF: That makes a bit of sense. Was it intentional to couple the two songs written in this style together?
MA: Nope, not intentional.
RF: With songs like “Money”, “Object Accumulation” and “Cash Register” you make some very obvious and convicting statements about our society's obsessions with money and stuff. What inspired you to write these songs?
MA: For the past 10 years I worked behind a cash register and in that capacity processed many many transactions. Many dollars and coins passed through my hands en route to the cash register. Many products were placed in bags and handed to the hands of nervous customers. Many an “x” I printed from the register at the behest of an anxious boss. The essence of these experiences was distilled to create the lyrics of the songs you reference above.
RF: Currently you do not have any shows listed, are there plans to tour as Puff Pieces in the near future?
MA: Yup, we are gonna tour out to Chicago and back in mid-July with our pals in the DC band “Cigarette”.
RF: What made you decide to work with Lovitt Records for Puff Pieces?
MA: Brian approached us about making a record and since he is a nice chap we agreed.
RF: How did you come to know Brian?
MA: He works at Dischord records, a record label which released records by a band called “Antelope” that Justin and I used to be in.
RF: What are your thoughts on the current political situation in the US?
MA: It is a decadent technicolor maelstrom of profound horror and potential wonder.
RF: Can you expound on the wonder that you see in it?
MA: Well, the current breakdown in consensus reality made possible by information technology could maybe clear the way for new social structures of great and strange beauty.
RF: Who did the dragon drawing on the cover of Bland in DC?
MA: I did.
RF: What inspired the artwork?
MA: I think it was probably inspired by the marble sphinxes in front of the Masonic Temple on 16th street here in DC.
RF: Where can people find out more about Puff Pieces?
MA: Probably the facebook page is the best bet.
RF: Thank you very much