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In the Studio

Pop. 1280 Stop Banging Their Heads Against the Wall on ‘Imps of Perversion’

Pop 1280

The saloon-like Capri Social Club rests on the corner of Calyer and Lorimer in Brooklyn’s Greenpoint neighborhood; inside, Pop. 1280 guitarist Ivan Lip and vocalist Chris Bug are nursing beers in one of the bar’s corner booths, passively watching the rain trickle outside the window. They wish to go by their pseudonyms.

Bands often develop from the spontaneity of jamming with other musicians, yet the process has been backward for these guys. On their latest, Imps of Perversion, out this week on Sacred Bones, the shadowy pigfuck project is discovering what it means to collaborate and grow organically as a whole. Their previous effort, 2011’s The Horror, was marked by a polarizing lack of communication within the band, an issue that, as the pair now laments, forced them to carry the weight of the band on their shoulders.

The Horror was like beating your head against a wall,” Bug says. “That’s part of why it’s good, but also the reason for its shortcomings, too.” He shifts his eyes about as he pauses, then lowers his voice: “It hurts to listen to that record sometimes.”

“There was very little chemistry with that line-up,” agrees Lip with a short sigh. When speaking, the two look at each other often.

Fed up with that negativity, the band’s two principal songwriters, who grew up together in a suburb of Worcester, Massachusetts, knew a dramatic change was necessary to keep Pop. 1280 alive. After regrouping, they recruited two new members: multi-instrumentalist (and classically trained cellist) Allegra Sauvage, and a new drummer, Andy Chugg. Imps of Perversion also features the sensibility of legend-turned-kindred-spirit Martin Bisi (Swans, Sonic Youth), recommended by fellow eardrum-assailers White Suns. With further direction from Bisi in the studio, this record sounds more taut and focused, with a resonance the band credits to a more collaborative spirit. “I think the newer songs are just a lot more dynamic,” Lip explains enthusiastically. “It’s heavier and a more brutal record than The Horror, but the songwriting is much better.”

“We had this idea that we wanted it to be like the Rolling Stones, and we wanted it to be a ‘party’ album,” Bug adds. “We’re not trusting people by nature, but once we got going with Martin and Allegra, it had a good direction.”