A Place To Bury Strangers is often called one of the loudest and most menacing bands in all of New York.
But they're also one of the most ambitious, always looking for ways to push their wall of white noise to new places, always making sure their onslaught is anchored by solid songwriting. Their forthcoming EP will be out on Feb. 7 and is the sonic equivalent of five quick punches to the face.
It is named Onwards to the Wall, which feels apt, because after a shuffle in the band's lineup and other changes, these days A Place To Bury Strangers is all about moving forward.
The band, lead by frontman Oliver Ackermann, formed in New York in 2004, and quickly gained a reputation for playing music so blisteringly loud the audience felt it in their chests. Ackermann had already built a profile for owning both the recording studio and guitar pedal company Death By Audio; his sound-warping wares have been sought after by U2, TV on the Radio and even Lady Gaga.
While the band was touring for its sophomore album, Exploding Head, bassist Jonathan "Mofo" Smith left the group. According to Ackermann, he had just gotten married and wanted to spend more time with his family.
"We moved on and tried out a bunch of different people and found one who is fantastic," Ackermann says.
The group found bassist Dion Lunadon, formerly of garage rockers D4. He fit so well that he eventually began co-writing songs and singing background vocals.
"It's great having another voice in the band, because for the most part I would be writing everything myself," Ackermann says. "He brings a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. He wants to push things further, which makes you want to go even further yourself."
A Place To Bury Strangers ended up going even further on Wall, but also took a step back towards a more raw production style.
"It was all completely recorded from start to finish by ourselves, as opposed to Exploding Head which was more of a grandiose effort," Ackermann says. "I think it captured more of an actual feeling and a moment in time and something we're actually excited about. I think we're going to head in that direction with this band, and do a lot more stuff on impulse and a lot more different directions and not spend so long on these projects and just do something that at that moment kind of feels right."
In addition to the EP, the band is working on "the last elements and mixes right now," for their new full-length, which Ackermann says should be released around May. It doesn't have a title yet, but he says it combines the stripped down assault of the EP with the grander feel of Head.
"I think this goes in a lot of directions and a lot of interesting places. We stepped up the way we record, and what we do with sound and it's a bit more over the top experimental while still holding on to some sense of hi-fidelity," he says. "Which is arguable -- it probably sounds lo-fi to most people, but for me it's kind of high-fi."
Starting this spring, A Place To Bury Strangers will hit the road with one of their favorite young bands, the anthemic Welsh band The Joy Formidable.
After the recent upheavals, Ackermann is happy that the band is starting to get their forward momentum going again. But he isn't too stressed about any time lost.
"It's kind of cool to get a fresh start."