Algiers Prepares to Bring Political Lyrics mixed with Sounds Hard to Describe to Pappy and Harriet’s »Holtville Tribune
Algiers is a group that presents various contradictions.
To begin with, Algiers writes, records and tours despite the fact that the members are often scattered across the country. The band’s sound has been described in various ways as âgospel-punkâ, âpost-punk meets Motownâ and, simply, ârockâ, although neither of these terms accurately describes the type of music created. Then there’s the politically charged lyrics, which get a lot of attention in Algiers – and yet the band’s popularity endures.
The group will perform at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace – which, as a western film set turned music venue, knows the contradictions well – on Wednesday, September 29.
In a recent interview, drummer Matt Tong said the band, like many other bands, made the most of a bad situation during COVID-19 shutdowns by focusing on music.
“The music that Frank (singer / songwriter Franklin James Fisher) brought to the band, as well as some demos from Ryan (Mahan, bassist / synthesizers), was really strong, and it really felt like we were enjoying being able to actively engage. with new ideas and not having to think about touring demands, âTong said.
Tong explained how the group continued to work together despite being spread across the country.
âFrank and Ryan are primarily based in New York City, but they kind of shuttled between Atlanta and other parts of the South, between different family members,â Tong said. âLee (Tesche, guitarist) has also been in Florida during most of the pandemic. I’m in New York, so there wasn’t a time when we were all together, really, so that kind of informed the recording process. What I’ve heard so far is really loud, and I’m very excited about it.
âIt’s been a very unfortunate time in the history of the world, but I think for us the break came at a pretty good time. I think we were running out a bit before the pandemic. “
The split forced the group members to record separately, a process that Tong said required trust.
âFor Frank and Ryan it’s a bit more necessary to exert some control over the direction of the song,â Tong said. âOverall, in this group, I’m upping the rhythm tracks rather than directing how a rhythm is going to inform a song. We might get to a point where this process changes a lot, and we can try to make a more live record. Personally, I have no qualms about doing a lot of stuff on my own. I’m not like, “What’s going to happen until the final cut?” I’m just trying to do my best. If something inspires a new idea, or takes us in a different direction and still doesn’t get used to, that’s great.
Tong added that not only does the music creation process require trust; it also requires oversized egos to be put aside.
âI hate to say it, but at the end of the day we are all middle aged men,â Tong said. âI think at some point you have to let go of your ego, and some of that youthful motivation and ambition has to mature and evolve into something else. For me, personally, I consider myself lucky to still be somewhat involved in the cultural industry at this age – an age when most people give up, are exhausted, or just feel their ideas are out of fashion. I think one way to keep engaged is to be able to see the big picture and celebrate the collaborative process. It’s been hard to distance myself from what’s going on with the record right now, and it doesn’t always feel good, but I know deep down that’s how it should be. You need to trust and you need to celebrate the accomplishments of your people, even if they don’t include you.
In addition to working on new music, the Algiers members are preparing for their tour, which is scheduled to begin on September 10. Of course, the COVID-19 spikes driven by the Delta variant threw everything up in the air.
âNot to be too depressing, but it’s still a little hard to think of a tour, given everything we know about the Delta variant at the moment,â said Tong. âWe’re going to try, and it’s going to be very strange, because we haven’t been together for almost two years. â¦ We certainly have a lot of work to do to get back in shape on tour.
Tong was proud of the band’s caution before these concerts.
âWe’re actually having a meeting specifically on COVID protocols soon,â Tong said. âI would like to think that at a minimum, we are going to stipulate that people must be vaccinated and wear masks during performances, other than to eat and drink. We are obviously all vaccinated ourselves at this point.
âThe situation was very fluid. This keeps changing, and we’re just going to have to do our best to be on guard and responsive. I imagine it’s the same with any band that’s about to go for an event, or (tour) across the country for a month. There are also financial implications when it comes to having to cancel shows or getting sick while on tour. I don’t think anyone is particularly excited about having to spend money on quarantine, in a hotel or motel, but these are things we need to understand and determine our different levels of comfort. Otherwise, we just have to keep goingâ¦ and we have to figure out how to rehearse and integrate our new songs and our new musical equipment into the set.
The band was actually on tour to support There is no year, released in January 2020, when the COVID-19 closures began. This fact can help party members as they prepare to hit the road again.
âWe had already completed a month-long European tour and we had had about four dates in the US, so I think the songs we decided to play on from There is no year were fairly well understood, âTong said. âI think we had pretty much figured out, by this point, which songs were going to work live and which probably would never have worked live, or would have needed a lot more work to get to a point where we felt feel comfortable bringing them to an audience. I’m counting that muscle memory is going to kick in at some point, and we can get back to those songs. We’ve been playing them for a little while, at least, and I think that we’ve gotten pretty good at playing these songs for people.
Algiers will perform at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, September 29, at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace, 53688 Pioneertown Road, in Pioneertown. Tickets cost $ 20 and proof of vaccination or a negative test within 72 hours is required. For more information, call 760-365-5956, or visit www.pappyandharriets.com.
(This story first appeared in the Coachella Valley Independencent and was written by Matt King. Coachella Valley Independent is part of the Cal Matters network.)