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Parquet Courts: New York Post-Punk Geeks Play Fast and Loose

Parquet Courts / Photo by Heather Strange

Who: A Texas-bred, New York-based crew of post-punk geeks who crafted one of 2012’s most intriguing guitar records, Light Up Gold, Parquet Courts are led by the tongue-tangling songwriting of singer-guitarists Austin Brown and Andrew Savage. “I was here in New York playing music and Andrew was playing in [Denton, Texas garage-psych duo] Fergus and Geronimo,” Brown says of the moment they formed two years ago. “He told me that he had an idea for a new and different band, a New York band.” And while they certainly draw inspiration from the city’s rich musical and literary traditions, Parquet (which also features bassist Sean Yeaton and Andrew’s brother Max on drums) are just as much a skittering reflection of the city’s energy. “I live near an above-ground train,” Brown explains, “and it runs through the night. Then the garbage trucks come about five in the morning and then people start going to work. It’s non-stop and that’s just my from bedroom window. But I feel better in the white noise of it all: I’m drawn to it like a mosquito to a zapper.”

Spontaneous Combustion: “When we got together to jam, it was more, ‘Well, what do we sound like?’ than, ‘What should we sound like?’ says Brown. “We just played; I think that comes out on the record.'” Indeed. Though Light Up Gold (finally released widely on January 15 via What’s Your Rupture?) evokes the spring-loaded explosiveness of bands like Wire or the Strokes, it also benefits from never staying in one place for too long. And with added torque courtesy of Savage and Brown’s syllable-blurring vocals (Choice line: “Ya know, Socrates died in the fuckin’ gutter!), both the deep-dive drone-rock of “Stoned and Starving” and the cavernous pop of “Caster of Worthless Spells,” sound distinctively alive. “The lyrics weren’t necessarily lyrics before they were in songs,” says Brown. “We approached it in a similar way, where we just wrote stuff in our notebooks and picked out what fit the song and wrapped around the music.”

In Camelot: Classmates at the University of North Texas, Savage and Brown first started spending time together at meetings for the former’s record club, Knights of the Round Turntable. “It was a legit club, registered with the university,” Brown says. “Andrew put up hand-drawn flyers in our dorm and people would take turns bringing in records. We would listen to an LP and a 7-inch each meeting all the way through, no talking, and that was a new experience for me: to collectively listen to a record intently. I think I brought Belle & Sebastian’s Waking Up To Us 7-inch and I know Andrew brought a Belle & Sebastian LP. But that was also the first place I heard Ornette Coleman, which was life-changing for me.”

The Gremmy Factor: Since the digital self-release of Light Up Gold this past summer, chatter in and outside of New York has resulted in both serious label interest as well as the planning of Parquet Courts’ first tour. “There’s definitely been an incremental increase in crowd-surfing,” Brown says with a laugh, still recovering from moshing the night before during a performance in New York’s Financial District. “People are much more familiar with the record; it’s just awesome whenever a crowd knows the lyrics to your songs, especially when they’re already so hard for me to pronounce and remember sometimes.”