Things have settled down for Matgo Primo in the last few months. The band has a new bass player, a debut album ready to be released, and plans to finally start playing some shows again.
"We haven't been playing out very much," says Dorian DeLuca, who plays guitar and keyboards in the band. "We've been working on the album quite a bit, and we've all been busy outside the band. It's been very hard to find time to get together. I can't wait to get up and start playing again."
The album that's kept the band (DeLuca, guitarist/singer Tim Eisinger, drummer Greg Eisinger, and new bassist Alex Stevens) so busy is None, Never, a collection of 12 elaborate pop songs underscored by sharp, precise guitar leads and unexpected rhythms. Some songs recall the jagged art-punk of Television or Talking Heads ("Bound by Motion," "Moving Sideways," Swamp Thing II"), others echo surf rock ("Deep, Dark") or melancholy early-'60s British pop ("Moon Transformers," "Through Houses").
"We all come from very different musical backgrounds," says Tim Eisinger. "If you know us, it's pretty easy to pick up what pieces came from where. Dorian's leads are quick and technical, and Greg likes punk rock and reggae, so you can hear lots of jumping back and forth between subtle reggae stuff and driving punk rhythms. And for a long time, the glam movement of the early '70s has been my biggest influence."
All that stuff does come through on None, Never, but only as parts of a whole. Tim says the melodramatic aesthetic of glam rock is "our bread and butter," but the concise songs on the album don't really indicate that kind of influence. Tim's vocals occasionally develop into keening yelps, and he sometimes intones in a modulated baritone register that may be drawn from Morrissey. But Matgo Primo's approach seems to be a tightly controlled kind of outrageousness.
"When we started out, the first year and a half or so, we were ridiculous. We tried to be dramatic and over-the-top," DeLuca says. Their live show isn't quite as glam or as manic as it used to be, but both those elements are still there. "The music's toned down a bit. Tim's songwriting is stronger. But we still work really hard to put on a good show."
Some of that ridiculousness may have been from necessity—all of the band's members have made instrumental adjustments for the band's sake. Before putting Matgo Primo together, Tim was primarily a bass player and Greg a guitarist, and DeLuca has extended his role as keyboardist to fit the songs. "That's another dynamic with this band," Greg says. "When we started, all of us were learning to play our instruments. We've all grown immensely."
The addition of Stevens on bass has cemented Matgo Primo as a fully functioning band again. Stevens, who also plays in Brother on Skates, was a fan of the band before he joined; he used to sneak into shows by loading and unloading gear at their gigs. Even though he's only practiced with Matgo Primo for less than a month, the others all seem to regard him as a full-fledged member.
"He's falling into the groove well," Greg says. "We just need to get him fixed up with a new hairstyle."
Tim, the band's principal songwriter, says he used to write material and then dictate its performance. He's a little more accommodating these days. "Now I can write knowing what they'll play," he says.
None, Never was recorded in January 2007 at Don Coffey's Independent Recorders in one three-day jag. The band went in at 9 a.m. and stayed until after midnight, then started all over again. They had spent a few hours at a time for months recording songs for an aborted album and found the intensity of last year's sessions—and Coffey's energy—an enormous benefit. "All we had to do was feed [Coffey] a little chewing tobacco and give him some beer," Tim says.
"We never saw him eat!" Greg adds.