Rock Paper Dynamite’s new EP, Teeth, opens like a firecracker. An overzealous pastor rains fire and brimstone condemnation of sin and the absence of religion. Andrew Janousek’s guitar squeals and groans, winding up like a dark metal epic before cascading into a southern rock trot.
Nothing short of prolific, Rock Paper Dynamite will release sixth studio EP, Teeth, at a show Saturday night at The Waiting Room with Matt Cox, Those Far Out Arrows and Rothsteen (RSVP here). The songwriting pair of vocalist Joseph Janousek and brother Andrew have a tangible dynamic in a live setting, which they have managed to wrangle into the record.
“The Devil,” the debut single from the longstanding Omaha rock foursome, sets a brisk, rippling tone at the front of Teeth. Bolstered by a pounding rhythm section in bassist Trey Abel and new drummer Geoff Boyer, Rock Paper Dynamite carries the defiant, devil-may-care attitude announced in its intro (“If I die in the middle of the night, there’s gonna be a fight”) throughout the rest of the album.
Now, here is the debut of “The Devil”:
On the cusp of releasing Teeth, we had a brief chat with frontman Joseph Janousek about distilling the best songs, performing in front of small crowds and writing “The Devil.”
Hear Nebraska: Rock Paper Dynamite has been somewhat prolific since you formed in 2007, with five EPs.
Joseph Janousek: And this is number six, actually. We were originally going to record about three more songs, but there was an urgency to get something out quicker. We didn’t want to spend as much time producing it, creating it. And so … we didn’t scrap songs — we still play them live — but they just didn’t make this record. We’re looking to release a single hopefully before the end of the year.
HN: I think it works really well that way. It’s a quick seven, in terms of its rhythm and energy. Is there something that draws you to the EP format?
JJ: It kinda ties in with being prolific. We released our first five albums in seven years. So it’s just, always constantly have something new out there. We always kinda had the mindset that, in this day and age, people are all ADD. So it’s like, if you’re EP is over six or seven songs and over a half hour, chances are it might get skipped over unless they’re taking an adderall or something.
HN: So it is something you’re cognizant of when writing?
JJ: It just kinda turned out that way. With 12 songs, you get the feeling sometimes that you might rush some songs, you might put a song on there that might not be your best. We didn’t want to release an album where seven songs should be on there and the other five are kinda throwaway. We might as well release a really solid ep rather than a meh album. We all have those songs we write where a month later you’re like , uhh not my best
HN: I’ve seen you [perform] a few times, most recently in West Point [Neb., on the Good Living Tour], for somewhat of a smaller crowd. But you guys really brought it. I was really drawn to your energy onstage. Where does all that come from, even with smaller crowds?
JJ: And you know actually, we were pretty reserved that night. Still, with the energy, you gotta feed off the crowd, and like you said, sometimes you have to invent it. We have a blast every time we play. We don’t wanna come off as though we’re not having fun. Even if we play in front of five people and two of them are 80+ years and two of them are my mom and aunt, we’re still having a great time. If the band is not having fun then nobody else is. Before we were going on, our drummer was like be sure to rock it for the lady with the walker.
photo by Nickolai Hammar
HN: Well yeah, you totally did. Is there anyone in particular, performance-wise, that you take influence from?
JJ: I grew up in the mid to late 90s, so I draw a lot from Kurt Cobain’s stage stuff. His craziness, his out-of-control-ness, mixed with the stoicness of Liam Gallagher from Oasis, who would never take the mic off the stand. He would just stand there and sing. I take influence from a lot of different performers. I dunno, Hendrix used to get into it. Roger Daltrey and Robert Plant, who’d just stand there in their tight jeans and [redacted]. They wouldn’t have to do anything, they would just stand there and sing.
HN: There’s definitely a dynamic between you and [guitarist and brother] Andrew [Janousek] onstage. Did that come naturally or did that take some work?
JJ: It definitely comes naturally. We’ve lived together all of our lives until college, and after I graduated I moved back in with him and we started doing the band thing. We’ve literally been apart from each other for four years of our lives. I can tell what he’s writing, what he’s thinking. I can predict his next move and he can do the exact same with me. Our influences and our interests and everything musically go together really well. We’re very fortunate that we can sing harmonies, because our voices sound so similar.
HN: Yeah! there’s something to be said for that.
JJ: There’s a couple songs that he’s actually sang on albums and I don’t know that half of our fans know he does. “You sound so good on that song.” Well, thank you. I didn’t sing it.
HN: Let’s get to “The Devil.” It starts with that fire and brimstone condemnation of lust and drinking. Where did you get the idea for that?
JJ: It was the last thing that we added to the song, [which] was really studio based. We wanted to get kinda dark and creepy with it, kick off the album really raw and kinda edgy. We had this long intro drawn out, like a [Black] Sabbath thing. All of these weird noises. Then one of the last mixing sessions, we were having some political talks, and we got on the topic of old timey pastors. It fit perfectly.
HN: I get this devil-may-care attitude from right when the song starts and really from the rest of the album. Where was your head at when you were writing this one? To me, it’s the perfect intro to the album. It’s less frightful of the possibility of dying and more prepared for it.
JJ: It’s kinda along those lines. How it starts, “If i die, there’s gonna be a fight.” I’m not just gonna go. It’s kind of a call out. Trying to keep the evil away but at the same time, inviting it. We were trying to push this song, and we thought it was really cool how short it was. Let’s keep it simple.
HN: You’ve got the album this week, a single later this year. What have you got coming up?
JJ: We’re doing a residency at O’Leaver’s [in the fall]. If you’re into the Nebraska music scene at all, you’ve heard of Live at O’Leaver’s and what Ian is doing down there. It’s amazing. So we’re hoping to have enough tracks for a live album by the end of it.
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Lincoln’s Freakabout will be hitting the road again in September, this time with critically touted rock band American Pinup. The tour is bookended by a new festival and an old, starting Sept. 4 at The Sydney for Benson First Friday Femme Fest and ending at Zoo Bar Oct. 2 for Lincoln Calling.
Good fortune continues for Freakabout in a year full of landmarks. It released debut LP Don’t We All in March, playing the release show with their upcoming tour mates. The quartet’s appearance at Maha Musical Festival will precede all of it.
American Pinup has itself been praised as one of the rising alternative acts, albeit on the national stage. Formed in Westchester Co., N.Y., in 2010, the Lauren West-led punk rock quartet has released two studio albums and two EPs, most recently The Radio EP.
See the tour dates below, and catch Freakabout next at Maha Music Festival (RSVP here).
Sept. 4 – The Sydney (Benson First Friday Femme Fest), Omaha
Sept. 5 – The Washington, Burlington, Ia.
Sept. 6 – Tonic Room, Chicago
Sept. 7 – The Rockery, Wyandott, Mich.
Sept. 8 – Buzzbin Art & Music Shop, Canton, Ohio
Sept. 9 – O’Shecky’s Live, Columbus, Ohio
Sept. 10 – Bube’s Brewery, Mount Joy, Pa.
Sept. 11 – The Low Beat, Albany, N.Y.
Sept. 12 – Barney McNabb’s, Yonkers, N.Y.
Sept. 13 – Asbury Lanes, Asbury Park, N.J.
Sept. 15 – The Side Bar, Baltimore, Md.
Sept. 19 – The Radio Room: WPBR, Greenville, S.C.
Sept. 20 – The Foobar, Nashville
Sept. 22 – Syndicate Lounge, Birmingham, Ala.
Sept. 23 – The Made Famous, New Orleans, La.
Sept. 24 – Rudyard’s British Pub, Houston
Sept. 25 – Indian Roller, Austin, Texas
Sept. 27 – The Rail Club, Ft. Worth, Texas
Sept. 28 – Blue Note Lounge, Oklahoma City
Sept. 29 – The Red Brick Bar, Norman, Okla.
Sept. 30 – Barleycorn’s, Wichita, Kan.
Oct. 2 – Zoo Bar (Lincoln Calling), Lincoln
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The Live at O’Leaver’s series made a few new additions to its digital library yesterday, releasing recordings by six new artists.
This crop features Omaha’s Noah’s Ark Was A Spaceship, McCarthy Trenching and Saturn Moth, as well as Des Moines’ Annalibera, Madison, Wisc., punks Fire Retarded and Los Angeles-based Dylan Ryan/Sand. Chief engineer and project leader Ian Aeillo continues to pour out tracks from an estimated crop of more than 100, which means there should be more to come.
Listen to the newly released recordings and more here, at the Live at O’Leaver’s website.
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Tonight, The Bourbon hosts a trio of Canadian experimental/contemporary classical artists in Charles Barabé, Jean-Sebastien Truchy and Black Givre. Barabé celebrates the release of his new tape by fledgling local label Tymbal Tapes, which can be heard here. The show will likely appeal to both contemporary classical and experimental/noise fans. RSVP to the 9 p.m. show here.
For its part, Tymbal Tapes has been quite active, releasing four new tapes earlier this month by Barabé, Canadian drone artist Babel, Dubuque, Ia., composer BB Jr and Chicago duo Ombrelli Sciolti. It also recently signed a small distribution deal with a like-minded UK cassette label A Giant Fern.
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As always, head to our statewide calendar at hearnebraska.org/events for a fuller listing of shows. If you do not see your show or one you plan to attend, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or add it yourself via the Contribute button at the top of the home page. And always feel free to email us with song submissions, story ideas and news tips