INTERVIEW: Matt Dodds talks with Brian Manley about auralgamiSOUNDS, kicking out the jams, and future slime!

Matt Dodds is co-person of auralgamiSOUNDS, a local record/tape/music label that will be celebrating its one-year anniversary this coming weekend on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights a several venues. He is also a DJ at WXOX/ART-FM 97.1 FM, and one of the most creative musicians in town, having skronked in such bands as Lucky Pineapple and The Teeth. Matt and I have smashed our brains together in various places and situations in the past, usually hovering about in some manic forum of music-related predicaments. I think, typically, we kind of know what’s going on, but realistically, that’s something that can be debated. Syd asked me to interview him this anniversary celebration. Full disclosure: I’m in a band on this label, so let’s quickly dismiss any journalistic integrity on my part.

Unlike past interviews and discussions Matt and I have found ourselves weathering with each other, there was no face-to-face scowling over butterscotch crème shots of liqueur. This was all conducted at various moments of different days via gmail hangouts. This is because we are checkmating the 21st century at its own game.

Never Nervous: Is this on? Is it working? Ello Matt Dodds, my name is Brian Manley. I was told to interview you by the Never Nervous Crime Syndicate.

Matt Dodds: Do you need me to wire money to Tunisia?

NN: No. I live near Shelby Park. Send it there.

MD: There was a guy at White Castle tonight who wanted to sell me an $80 Home Depot gift card for $20.

NN: I assume you did that deal.

MD: I gave him a dollar instead.

NN: You obviously aren’t much of a business man. Is this how you run your label?

MD: Something told me the deal was a raw one. It’s not. If he had asked the label, we definitely would’ve done that. And then a roll of fancifully printed duct tape would come with every tape. So, thanks for rushing home to have this little chat

NN: It’s cold out. I had to walk here. I had to force the Northwest Passage. I was also only wearing flip-flops and jamz

“I’m still just sitting on the couch. That’s on you for dressing like a young boy in public.”

MD: Oh cool. I’m still just sitting on the couch. That’s on you for dressing like a young boy in public.

NN: Do you have a fire?  . . . Burning inside?  . . . Of your soul?  . . .  For local music?

MD: I do not. No, none of those. I have been going to sleep at night with a Netflix video of an oscillating fan on. It’s amazing. Just like 40 minutes of this goddamn fan.

NN: To fan the flames? Of the fire burning inside of your soul for local music?

MD: Hehehe. Yes. Of my passion for “local music”.

NN: The very one. OK, this interview is going great so far.

MD: Has it started? Is this it?

NN: That’s it. We’re done. Actually, my first question: How long have you listened to music? Did you like it when you heard it? Do you like music still? Do you listen to music now? These are my first question. I have another question after that one. Some of them are relevant.

MD: Let’s see. I’ve listened to music since I was a kid, but mostly just whatever my parents put on the radio/stereo. I was real into “read along with the book” tapes and records. I think the first full length record I got was either Weird Al’sIn 3D” or Michael Jackson’sThriller“.

NN: Is this why you started the local label – AURALGAMISOUNDS?  And: Who listens to tapes? Did you want to put out local “read along with the book” tapes?

MD: No, it’s not. I’m not opposed to it, if someone has one they wanna put out…ON TAPE! Was I supposed to answer the rest of those questions that were your first question?

NN: No, fuck those other parts. What brought about you and JC starting a label a year ago? So, we’re coming up on the first anniversary party of AuralGami Sounds. It’s called the Paper Anniversary: do you feel married to the label?

MD: OK, so to your second question: no. Though I am pretty committed to it. We’re living together. It was mostly all JC’s idea, but as soon as he brought it up I was into it.  For me it mostly has to do with Softcheque’s first record. It seemed like a drag that they had to just put it out themselves. I mean I don’t actually know that they wanted anyone else to put it out, but it just seemed like someone should’ve insisted. I thought it would be cool to help where we could for other people who rule but maybe don’t have anyone that’s hassled them about putting out their stuff. I try not to make people uncomfortable with my fandom or whatever, but it did seem pretty incredible.

NN: Sounds like a big goal that was achieved, for you personally, and the label. Well, and the band, too. Were there other labels that inspired you at the beginning?

“The Noise Pollution guys are pretty much my blueprint for how to do things, I think. That’s definitely the closest I’ve ever been to any sort of label.”

MD: The Noise Pollution guys are pretty much my blueprint for how to do things, I think. That’s definitely the closest I’ve ever been to any sort of label.

NN: Which you released music on for years with your projects, Lucky Pineapple and The Teeth. Before you signed Jersey Shore Records, I mean.

MD: Yeah. Those guys rule on every level. I think the last Teeth record was after that, right?

NN: I wasn’t in The Teeth. You should ask the guitar player from that band.

MD: He thinks it was. sonaBLAST was cool too, real laid back, but just a pretty different arrangement than anything we’re able to do. Hang on, I’ve gotta go make a drink. All right, it is accomplished. That should say “All right, it is accomplished.” We can fix that in post, right?

NN: Of course. I’ll edit this to make us sound composed and cool people. NOTE for POST: *like* whatever. OK, so: What’s up with The Teeth? And this leads me to another question? When the fuck are you going to fucking play music again? Do you want to join my band? What’s happening? I’m walking around town all day and people come up to me and say, “when is Matt Dodds going to kick out the jams, motherfucker?”

MD: Alright, so The Teeth aren’t playing right now. I don’t wanna say we’re done, because I would like to do that some more at some point, but we’re done for now.  At some point last year I asked Terri Whitehouse if she wanted to play bass and I would play guitar and maybe we would get a drum machine or something, and I thought if I asked her about it I would then feel obligated to just make it happen…so we worked on a song the other day. And so I guess we’re gonna try to play some songs.

NN: HEY! Awesome. I’m just pushing selfishly to see you perform again, because I’ve always enjoyed your playing/songs/sounds.

MD: Awww. I thought maybe I was just done with like regular music. Like I just wanted to do what amount to maybe what you could call performance art if you went to college (there should be a “would” between what and amount). But it felt really good to work on a song with someone, so I guess I’m still into it.

“I thought maybe I was just done with like regular music. Like I just wanted to do what would amount to maybe what you could call performance art if you went to college. But it felt really good to work on a song with someone, so I guess I’m still into it.”

NN: Well, you know I’m into that kind of thing, so would enjoy it. If you decide to pursue some fucked up mime project with me, I’m in. I think everyone goes through periods where there isn’t enough time, mixed with needing a break to let the inspiration brew, too. So, with AuralgamiSounds: Was the initial plan to create a cassette label, was that based on the backed-up record plant situation currently happening, or are there plans for other formats to surface on the label, like laserdisc?

MD: I think it was mostly just what we could afford to do. It’s weird on most every level. I think people see tapes “coming back” as some kind of hip elitist thing, but it genuinely doesn’t feel that way to us at all.

NN: I see tapes more as a way to get music out by any means necessary. Records are cool, but when the popularity resurged, the prices rose and the turnaround has gotten weird. I don’t see the tape thing as a hipper-than-thou thing, but a “we got to put music out; this works right now.” It’s DIY and it makes perfect sense to me. I also say this as a child of the 80s that never stopped listening to cassettes, so it’s never been weird to me that a label or band releasing a cassette. It also seems to work for you all really well. You’ve released some awesome special-release tape sets that were definitely collector-item style. [Full disclosure: Brian’s was released by AuralgamiSounds].

MD: It’s weird, I kind of got back into tapes from going to a couple of shows where that’s all there was as far as something I could take home and listen to, and this was right before JC talked to me about doing this, so I was in exactly the right frame of mind. I don’t think it’s a bad format at all, it’s just pretty wildly unpopular.

NN: Any plans for other formats in the future?

MD: Yeah, my plans for the immediate future are to keep talking to you about tapes goddammit.
Actually, before that my plans include using the bathroom.

NN: Don’t forget to do that. Do you feel like a master god of the bands that are on your label? Like, you own them and they are yours to toy with?

MD: Alright, I think I can let it go with talking about the tapes. I don’t think I actually have that much to say on it. I like making them, I like buying them, [and] I hope other people do/will too. We are putting out a CD at the Paper Anniversary. And we’re putting out the Softcheque album on vinyl. As for feeling like God Master over the bands we put out: no.

NN: Has there been there a particular sound the label is going for or style or look or fashion?

MD: So it’s kind of tough to say what we’re going for. Before we really got started putting things out I would’ve probably said we were going to probably steer away from more conventional rock instrumentation and format, but then right off the bat we had that Wrists tape and it just sounded too cool not to put out. It strikes me thinking about it that thus far we’re not real into “macho,” maybe.  I mean if some big burly sounding recording that we feel like we need to put out comes through, I’m certain we’ll do it.

NN: So who is holding down the Burly at AuralgamiSOUNDS?

MD: IP is a contender, but you guys ultimately end up too intellectual, right?

NN: Haha. We’re the Norman Mailers of punk. This anniversary party is almost a festival. What’s happening at it? It’s a couple of different venues.

MD: It’s true. I would love to somehow, for some reason that’s not clear to me avoid the phrases “fest” or “festival.” I think it has something to do with my fear of old time-y fascists? So it’s three shows, three nights in a row. The first is on Thursday at Kaiju with Cereal Glyphs, Bodycocktail, and Cher Von. That’s also Cassette Release of ‘Audiobiographical Dynasty: 1986-2015’,
a Bodycocktail retrospective.  The second night of our thing is at Zanzabar, and it’s Cold Brew & Tonic, Curio Key Club (whose CD release show it is), ATOMO, and Tony Robot. Ah, and here is a major flaw in IM interviews, we both talked at the same time.

NN: Indeed. But if we talked in person, we would probably just talk over each other at that point. I understand the fear of fests. The Bodycocktail thing: I’m so glad that that is happening. I’ve been into and aware of Zan’s stuff for a long time and am always appreciative that someone recognizes his stuff.  I think Andrew Vittitoe actually turned me onto him several years ago, and I’ve been a fan since. One thing I love about you and JC and the pursuits of the label are bringing out completely new artists. Atomo and Cereal Glyphs are bands that I’d never heard before you two cued me to them. And I have no idea who Cold Brew & Tonic are. And I like bringing the new stuff to light

MD: I feel pretty lucky to be able to be a part of this. I don’t know that guy much [Zan Hoffman] at all, but his work is directly in line with what we’re trying to do, as vague as “what we’re doing” is. But yes, this is a thing I like, finding things that are ready for people to know about them, and helping them let people know about them.

[A BREAK OCCURRED AND WE RE-CONVENED ON im]

MD: There are zombie issues in the village. So have you looked back at the conversation from the other night? Is it interesting at all?

NN: The most interesting talk ever recorded, of course.

MD: Oh great! That makes my depression not-worse!

NN: What’s that there website wherein people can access your audial goods and wares? Are you a fan of musicals?

MD: I have no idea how this works, but if you go to auralgamisounds.com it takes you to our bandcamp. JC does most of that stuff. Though I have recently started updating our long dormant tumblr, which is at auralgamisounds.tumblr.com. So now do you want to know if I like musicals? I do. In fact, for my birthday my wife got us tickets to see Cabaret. And the tickets for a demolition derby later that night. I don’t really seek out musicals to watch, but I do like them. I think we’ve talked about this, but I find it difficult to start watching movies most of the time. Or I just want to re-watch movies I’ve already seen.

“So now do you want to know if I like musicals? I do. In fact, for my birthday my wife got us tickets to see Cabaret. And the tickets for a demolition derby later that night. I don’t really seek out musicals to watch, but I do like them.”

NN: You have mentioned this to me, actually.  What is your favorite go-to?

MD: Hmmm. I’ve seen Robocop a lot of times. Usually PT Anderson movies, I think. Yeah, I mean I could probably talk more about musicals, but it would probably mostly me just talking about my brain.

NN: I wouldn’t mind talking about your brain, either. Are musicals that much on your brain? I can say they kind of are on mine.

MD: No, I was just thinking about the space they do occupy in my brain. I was thinking that I tend to think about songs and scenes from musicals I’ve seen far more than music videos I’ve seen.

NN: And that sometimes you walk around your everyday life and almost bust into a song.

MD: I almost never think much about music videos, though I certainly spent plenty of time as a kid watching them. Sometimes at work, if I’m like alone in a mechanical room on the roof, I DO burst into song.

NN: So, a scene from “Singin’ in the Rain” is more apt to make an appearance in your mind than the video for “Uptown Girl” by Billy Joel, or “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister.

MD: I’ve never seen “Singing in the Rain,” but probably.

NN: Well, I recommend it. Were you not a fan of the video format? Even of punk videos or bands you may have liked at the time?

MD: What I do remember about the Uptown Girl video is that there were these guys in it wearing half-shirts, and that when I was a kid and saw that, I cut off my Smokey and The Bandit t-shirt. I really liked watching MTV as a kid, and I like watching videos that people make now, but very few of them stay with me as something I turn over in my head.

[ANOTHER BREAK]

MD: Yes hello. You’ve caught me at a very opportune moment. I have just returned from the dentist.

NN: Opportunity is my middle name. Are you on the laughing gas?

MD: No, local anesthetic.  My face is numb. I will return to work when it relaxes.

NN: Sounds like it is already relaxed.

MD: Right, the opposite of that. When it regains the pain of being a human face.

NN: When it starts to tense up and realize the world is not as fun as it thinks it is right now.

MD: I think that might be creeping in on it. Preparation for a crown, and a cavity repaired. They used a lot of slime that hardened in my mouth. Future slime.

NN: Bet we could do some cool non-mouth tricks with that on people.

MD: Like…..Surround them in a mold of some sort and hold them there at knife point until the slime had hardened?

NN: I don’t know…stick it in their shoe or something.

MD: And then use the impression to make a copy of their body and then the new body will collect their tax return

NN: Yes! Exactly. Give it to kids as a quickly hardening Play-Doh and tell them to hurry.

MD: I always tell kids to hurry “Hurry up and grow older!”

NN: Hurry up and play!

MD: Hurry up and refuse to eat this dinner! Is all this going in the interview?

NN: Is that a thing? Kids refusing to eat dinner a lot? Seems like that’s a thing.

MD: My kids do. There are like four food like substances they’ll eat.

NN: I’ve seen other people’s kids do it, too.

MD: And then, like, peas

NN: I ate like a madman when I was a kid

MD: Like you would throw the food at the wall and chew on the plate?

NN: When I was like 1, yeah.  Maybe 2, too.  I know my favorite after school snack was to climb into the shelves and grab the marshmallow creme, spoon all of it out onto a big plate, and then dump a whole bottle of maple syrup and mix it all up….MAYBE add some peanut butter. Then eat this entire concoction while watching MTV.

MD: It’s not any wonder our civilization is in decline.

NN: So, on that note, tell me about Rad Tantrums.

MD: The well-known weekly radio show?

NN: Is it contributing to the decline of western civilization? The Decline of Western Civilization, Part 4: Rad Tantrum.

MD: I feel like it’s not helping to slow the decline.

NN: Is it all out madness, or are there themes and constructs we should know about?

“Sometimes we get into seeing how many songs that prominently contain aviary references we can play in a row. Or listening to songs that neither of us like just to make the other person listen to it.”

MD: I’m actually listening to a Teddy Pendergrass record right now to make sure it’s not too gross to play on the radio. There is very little structure to our show. And that is mostly imposed by the station. Otherwise it would just be 2 straight hours of whatever nonsensical things we could think of. It still mostly is, I guess. Sometimes we get into seeing how many songs that prominently contain aviary references we can play in a row. Or listening to songs that neither of us like just to make the other person listen to it. But mostly it’s just trying to see what all we can find that we DO like that we can fit together and still get in the station ID’s and whatnot. And occasional unscripted and frankly unnecessary but hopefully entertaining and enlightening conversation. It’s hard to believe all this mysterious stuff is going to be just on the radio in people’s cars/chainsaw repair shops.

NN: Soundtracks to grocery shopping.

MD: Yes. I feel like it could influence shopping habits.

NN: POWER.

MD: And so you’ve asked about our next public outing- I believe that will be February 19th at The Cure Lounge. We’re gonna settle into a regular monthly gig there starting in March, I think.

NN: I feel like indie/community radio can have a pretty big impact/influence on cities. I think Lexington already had a bevy of creative souls stirring there, but I feel like WRFL added some extra weirdness into the mix. I think it can be educational, exposing people to strange sounds they may not have known they liked. How’s your face?

MD: Absolutely. I’ve enjoyed listening to the FM tests. There are so many good shows on. And like 90% of it are things I’ve either never heard or don’t own. It’s definitely pushed me to try and find new musical terrain to explore. It’s also been enjoyable to learn about DJing in the studio and live settings. It’s not at all the same for me as playing an instrument, but it definitely does have its own set of problems both practical, psychological, and philosophical, to figure out. I think my face is beginning to respond to my brain’s demands a bit more.

NN: When is the next Rad Brunch at DKD? The brunch time DJ gig seems like it would be totally different than the night time party zone.

MD: I don’t know, we all decided to put that on hold for a bit, but it was always a lot of fun, and I liked trying to figure out what out of my music was the right thing for the occasion. And the people at DKD are the best. We might revive it once in a while for special occasions? I dunno.

NN: So, the AuralgamiSOUNDS weekend. Every night at every venue there is a curated beer, right?

MD: Yeah, I’m not 100% sure of the details on who has picked what beer where- JC has been the one involved in that, but I do know at each place you’ll have the opportunity to drink something that someone playing music would recommend. So yes, the label is completely busy- Paper Anniversary, Softcheque record nearing completion, like a good 8-12 other projects in the works. Radio show about to be on the FM dial, playing records in public places fairly regularly. Hopefully working on some songs with Whitehouse that will be able to be played in front of other people at some point. Trying to spend all the rest of the time with my family, but also having to go to work so we can still live in this house and have the continued amount of stuff to which we have grown accustomed.

NN: What are some of the future projects of the label? Have we talked about that? I know Softcheque is upcoming, but what else?

MD: We’ve been talking with Douglas Lucas about doing some limited edition lathe cuts of a thing he’s working on with a guy from LA. Even though we know Douglas from living here, that would be our first long-distance release. We’re talking to Yoko Molotov about doing a Harpy tape. I think Tony Robot has a tape about finished that we’ve talked about putting out. Potentially new stuff from Cereal Glyphs and ATOMO. There are plans for an ongoing series of recordings of newly composed music and I’m definitely forgetting at least two or three more things. Of course there’s the Bodycocktail retrospective coming out on the 4th and the Curio Key Club CD on the 5th. Oh, and I’m working on something weird. When Brad Anderson lived at the Cathouse and there would be shows, sometimes I’d take a tape recorder or two and make these tapes of me just saying phrases, but like real spaced out between the phrases, and I’d hide the tape recorders and let them play while people were hanging out. And so I wanna make an official one of those tapes. I’m trying to narrow down the phrases now. I have no idea who would want to own that. Maybe no one? Hopefully I’ll find out.

“When Brad Anderson lived at the Cathouse and there would be shows, sometimes I’d take a tape recorder or two and make these tapes of me just saying phrases, but like real spaced out between the phrases, and I’d hide the tape recorders and let them play while people were hanging out.” 

NN: Wait, so sometimes while I was hanging out at the Cathouse, I might be talking and then hear a Matt Dodds’ phrase, but you wouldn’t be standing there?

MD: Yes. And I’d like you to have the opportunity to have that experience in the setting of your choosing. I feel like it could be a nice thing to put on if you have a date over. Like it could help create some trivial misunderstandings.

NN: Probably made me think I was crazy. “Did I just hear Matt? Nah, guess not.”

MD: Or that, I suppose. If you have an enemy you wish to befuddle, you could hide a tape player in their bathroom.

NN: Wreck their mental concentration I really like this idea.

MD: I may try to see if there’s a way to make like a 2 hour bonus download. I may try to sort out some responses to some of the phrases, but put them on the other side of the tape. “Is this the bathroom?” “No, it’s down the hall to the left.”

Brian Manley is a L’ville native who is afraid of bugs, likes old movies, loves collecting firewood, spins music at WXOX, really wants to play come Twister, does at least 30 push-ups a week, hopes to own an ocean someday. Editing help by Niki Finley. 

The auralgamiSOUNDS Paper Anniversary:

  • THURSDAY / FEBRUARY 4 / KAIJU: Cassette Release of Bodycocktail’s ‘Audiobiographical Dynasty: 1996-2015’, with guests Cereal Glyphs and Cher Von.
  • FRIDAY / FEBRUARY 5 / ZANZABAR: CD Release of S/T by Curio Key Club with guests Tony Robot, ATOMO, Cold Brew & Tonic, the auralgamiSOUNDSystem.
  • FRIDAY / FEBRUARY 5 / NACHBAR (AFTERPARTY): Insect Policy, Pleasure Boys
  • SATURDAY / FEBRUARY 6 / DREAMLAND: Screening of ‘The Great American Cassette Masters‘; performances by Softcheque, Idiot Glee.
  • SATURDAY / FEBRUARY 6 / DECCA (AFTERPARTY): performance by The Wrists, plus WATTER DJ’s and auralgamiSOUNDSystem.
  • SUNDAY / FEBRUARY 7 / THE CURE LOUNGE: Dr. Girlfriend, Legs Akimbo, Trashcat (Lexington)