Recently, Heidi took some time out to contact Baltimore quartet, Ponytail, for Those Walls, Your Ears. This light-hearted interview openly discusses their art experiences, the musical process and blood in a jar … no joke! They also confirm a few other facts that may be of interest to you. Here is a sample from their recently released debut, Ice Cream Spiritual.
Photo: Frank Hamilton
TWYE: At the end of your ‘parapainting’ class did you all sit in a big circle and critique your work? I am also curious as to what grade you all got for Ponytail!
KEN: Haha. Not exactly. We had crits on our artwork, but the end of our Parapainting was a massive show at a warehouse in Baltimore called the Copycat. It was a bash. There was A LOT of excitement leading up to it. One member of our band wet themselves at that show. No joke.
DUSTIN: It was just a really fun party at the very end of the semester. People getting buzzed and dancing and having a good time. With grades, everybody in the class got A’s!
TWYE: Being that Ponytail extended from an art project, what was the original concept/idea behind your particular body of work?
K: We have always tried to keep things natural and organic. If there was ever a concept it is what kind of music do 4 art kids make who never met each other and have very different taste?!
D: Starting a band with 5 people that didn’t know each other at all was bizarre enough that making it all work was enough of a concept. For me, it was more interesting that 5 random people can come together and make something that each person can claim that it’s theirs.
TWYE: I almost imagine you guys in art school amongst a flurry of sound as silence and/or interpretive dance bands (I am a treeeee), but I am probably wrong. How did the other musical groups in the project fair?
K: Haha. There were some amazing other bands. There was a great acoustic group called Language of Love. Two girls, two guys. Trading flat harmonies. Great stuff. There was definitely a fair share of bands that threw a bongo in the mix and winged it, but seriously, it was so much fun. Some awesome projects. There was a band called Nieghbors and Ecstatic Sunshine started as a Parapainting band, too!
D: There were a lot of great bands that came out of the class. I remember there was a band with a singer who played clarinet that had this really dark sound, it was so powerful. Unfortunately it ended right after the semester. Would of really loved to see where that would’ve gone. Most of the bands seemed to be a group of friends so their concepts seemed a lot more concrete then ours which was really cool to see.
TWYE: What is your view/thoughts on the relationship between Art and Music?
K: I think they are related, but ideas do not always translate from one into the other. I think Art has a very wonderful ambiguous quality, but the advantage of music is that it provides immediate gratification.
D: I think they are a very integral element to life. Life with out art and music will be dreary. Music and Art without life would be dreary.
TWYE: Do you still all find the time for your own art practices aside from the band?
K: Yes, but I feel like we put most of our energy into the band at the moment. We try to keep art projects and art circles close to us, though.
D: Whenever I have the time I try to work on my own music. Its really nice and relaxing.
TWYE: I once ‘found’ (by smell) an instillation piece consisting of cow hearts hanging from varying levels behind a curtain in art college. Do you have an art gone bad or general art school mayhem stories to share?
K: Haha. I remember in freshman year a girl brought in a jar and asked the class to pass it around, describing it to us as “the most beautiful color.” Then, after we all closely inspected it, she announced it was her period. I will never forget that feeling!
D: Hmm, i don’t know, I wasn’t really a sensational artist. The only thing that I can think of any work I’ve done that is close to being ‘nasty’ was when I made a video of me humping/scratching a record player while the Beach Boy’s song “in my room” was playing. it sounded something like, uwin mwai wooooom, uwin muai woooom.
TWYE: Mollie’s vocals could almost be considered an instrument, how do you work the vocal structure into the process? Do any of the members of the band have a musical background? Is the process of making music fluid and jammy?
K: We do consider Molly’s vocals an instrument, but they work on top of a platform we feel. Her parts are very natural, but they can only be written through repetition and experimentation, so it takes time and a critical ear, but also room. We usually jam things out, but it takes a lot of editing for us to “write” our songs! It can be very frustrating. Half of us have training and I think it’s a nice balance to have self-taught and trained together.
D: Just watching molly working her vocals out it seems to be very organic. I’m a self taught guitarist, and I don’t think molly sang prior to being in the band. Its kinda like jigsaw jamming I guess. Jamming and then putting things together afterwards, then refining them individually for the parts to work better.
TWYE: Have you been asked for you autograph or have any other form of ‘rock and roll’ staples occurred on tour that you weren’t expecting?
K: Haha, yes. I’ve autographed T-shirts before. We have a handful of Superfans, which is just humorous, but very flattering! We love them, in a way. But other than that, we just live out the typical experience, but for us it’s amazing and exciting and the best times of our lives. Sometimes its so lavish, like in France, we have huge meals and our own hotel rooms, and sometimes in Boise we end up crashing on the carpet like sardines and peeing over a passed out dude. It’s how the world goes round!
D: We definitely have been asked for autographs and it always makes me kind of scratch my head.
TWYE: If you could play with any bands (past or present), what would your ultimate line-up look like and where would it be?
K: For me, right now at this moment in time… some combination of The Police, Fucked Up, Roger Eno, and Sonny Sharrock. All backed by the London Symphony Orchestra.
D: Oh man, I would’ve loved to play with The Who and Devo back in the day!
MOLLY: I think it would be awesome to play with the Cocteau Twins. I just wanna see them! Oh and Patti Smith, also if Le Tigre had a reunion show my head would literally explode if we played with them. It was exciting enough just to see them when I did.
TWYE: And ummm, is it true you are coming to the land down under?
K: Tis Truth!