Animals and insects are hot commodities in entertainment these days. Separate from recent big advertising (Coca Cola bears, ‘Mr. Quiggly,’ Chevy cockroaches), they continue to creep up in music adding profuse depth to storytelling via sound. Disturbing, even haunting, “Turtle & Bear, off the band’s self-produced EP, Dreamland Pt. 2 is right in line with the furry crowd, this time paralleling musical renditions of everyday life, straddling themes of challenge, loneliness and breaking ground in a crowded universe.
1,2,3, from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, are a talent of four: Nic Snyder (vocals, guitars), Josh Sickels (drums, percussion), Mike Yamamoto (guitars, keyboards) and Chad Monticue (bass, vocals, glockenspiel). They manage to shake it all up sifting through Harry Nilsson’s “Put the Lime in the Coconut,” the ‘EZ Bake Oven’ and the musical stylings of Ryan Gosling in Dead Man’s Bones (especially “My Body’s a Zombie For You”). One would expect a high altitude on the creep-o-meter. Surprise. The quartet is as hip and flirtatious with their dark tones as they are melancholy. But here’s the thing, the musical prodigies also lend their ears to an international sphere of sounds and influence while back-peddling sound production in what they call a “schizophrenic way” as they sample and translate from hard drive and digital to raw form.
“There are two sides of us, the recording side and the live raw side…The internet is like a new America. But instead of the melting pot taking place in factories and on cobble stone streets it happens on Twitter and Pitchfork. Take dub step for instance. That took like a day to catch on. … I guess all I can speak for is how western PA influences us, which it does everyday – when we’re home and even more when we’re not home. I’d imagine it’s the same for all artists. You can hear Scandinavia in Fever Ray and you can hear New Jersey in Springsteen.”
Music talents are slipping under doorstep cracks with their I’m-the-next-best-sound-in-the-audio-waves attitudes, and then, there are those trying bands in the corners of the bloated sound system who revel in stories, excel in experimentation, and savor in sampling. Plus, they seek nothing more than making solid music and stamp on any audience in the world. In addressing their motives and challenges, the band unravels the honesty in being musicians today:
“I don’t care if you’re a bricklayer or a sound guy, conversations about surviving financially tend to be bleak. As far as being a musician, it’s cheaper to reside on the internet and just release your music. But to be a band that isn’t immediately thrust to the top of the hype machine and try to tour and fund videos and still be able to pay your regular-people bills at the end of the day… it’s a very difficult thing…To like our own music, to be proud of it, to know that when we punch out we walk away from the world having helped create something that wasn’t there before, that’s the motivation. Everything else is second to that.”
As 1,2,3 plows forward with new melodies and creative work, the band divulges their aspirations and direction in layering messaging over polished technology and genuine synthesizing.
“At this point our musical heroes have been set in stone for years. It’s all social influence, movies, current events, autobiography. Last summer, my aunt’s house got plowed by a twister. We live in western Pennsylvania–I mean, that shit doesn’t happen here. We’re riddled with hills. Tornadoes like flatness. So between that, and Japan and the continuing oddities that the sky and climate have thrown at us over that last few months, it’s bled into the lyrics. So now our next album will be a concept album about lonely people and star-crossed lovers caught up in disaster scenarios. It’s been very fun to write with that as the back drop. It’s still about everyday bullshit, but with floods and such throwing a large wrench into the gears of life.”
If you are heading South West for some sort of famous music happening, don’t miss out on a bucket of sounds and surprises by the band’s SXSW appearance, or catch their LA debut and West coast tour this Spring with the full schedule of performances here.