The Midwest sound of friendship and kinship prevails in groups like Cleveland’s Filmstrip, who premiere the everything is everything and nothing at all knowledge of, “Don’t You Know”. Brothers Dave and Matt Taha with longtime friend Nick Riley pack the guitar-gilded wisdom that they have gained through growing up together on their Moments of Matter album, available in November from Exit Stencil Recordings (who recently gave us the Herzog LP). The three take into consideration the accumulation of life lessons learned, missed, maturation gained, lost, the moments that pass, and then slip into the present.
On the debut of of “Don’t You Know”, Dave riffs poetic chords and lyrics about the things one ought to know. Harmonizing with his brother Matt on the bass; Nick’s sharp timed drums tie the trio’s intuitive instincts created by the collaborative nature of having grown up together. Like the name of the album, Moments of Matter, and moments that have mattered over the years become engraved in the human psyche by the guitar gilded toast to everything that should already be commonly (or uncommonly) known, and unknown. Filmstrip eschews the pedantic institutions and school of life’s conventional instruction, for a highlight reel of alternative avenues, roads and highways taken. We discuss these paths in our interview with Dave Taha, after the following premiere:
Tell us about growing up together in Cleveland… what was that like, and what can you all report and the evolution of it’s DIY scene there?
Growing up in Cleveland was probably just as you’d imagine it. A Midwestern town beset by economic failure and a steady loss of jobs and population over the course of the last half century. That being said, the punk scene has always been strong, from the Electric Eels, Dead Boys, Pere Ubu, etc in the 70s right through today. I’m far from an expert on the subject, but I think great music will always come from places like Cleveland, due to the lack of an established scene, and as an outlet for people who have very few alternative options. The DIY scene has always been present. Speak In Tongues was the best when I was in high school (late 90s) and Nick was instrumental, as a resident booker, in bringing about its successor, the Tower, in the early to mid 00s. There’s no such thing as a vacuum; DIY will always pop up somewhere. Now there are probably a good handful of interesting venues, each with their own flavor. Cleveland is experiencing a renaissance of sorts right now, owing in no small part to the mainstream acknowledgment of its previously largely ignored creative class.
How has Cleveland itself lent an influence on you all?
As mentioned, it was, until rather recently, not exactly chock-full of opportunities. You either went into the trades, or moved, or got extremely lucky and landed one of the five creative jobs in town. I’d be lying if I said that we don’t wear the hard-scrabble life on our sleeves, and it definitely shows in our music. The music scene has always been supportive and we are super fortunate for that.
What has the road been like up and to recording, Moments of Matter for Exit Stencil Records?
We self-released our first two offerings, 2010’s Everything Can Change and 2012’s Feeling Like Infinity and just toured, toured, toured. We wanted to go all out for this record, so we were thrilled when Echo Mountain agreed upon hearing our demos. Ryan and Brandon of Exit Stencil are great friends of ours from when they were still based out of Cleveland, and Ryan came down to NC to see how it was going. He offered us the release while we were putting the finishing touches on the record. We tracked 33 songs in six days, and just went to overdubs/mix with the ones that worked, sort of letting the record evolve on its own.
How would you all organize the great Filmstrip bio film documentary and/or biopic? And shoot, what would it be titled?
In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, three friends take to the road to make music for the wasteoids, tramps, ne’er-do-wells and vagabonds. It is a mutually sustainable existence of minimal sustenance and maximum fun. Obviously there’s a little poetic license there. It would have to be called … Moments of Matter.
What real life quests and deficits of knowledge gave inception to “Don’t You Know”?
That song arose from a sense of futility that I was experiencing with a previous project. We never released anything, never played out of town, I felt stuck. Not exactly hopeless, but pretty close. Putting the final nail in it allowed me to move on with Filmstrip, and it is truly better than it’s ever been. It’s about letting go, allowing yourself to be subsumed by the void of not knowing what’s going to happen next, and it has been incredibly liberating.
Who do you all feel are some of the most under-represented Cleveland artists and bands that deserve more attention?
Too many to list, but I’ll give it a shot. Obnox and Herzog have been getting good press, but they deserve more. Nowhere, Shitbox Jimmy, Murderedman, Goldmines, Tinko, Shale Satans, Insurance Salesmen, Blaka Watra, I could go on and on and on…
The Midwest has been nailing it and owning it in making some of the realest and rawest garage sounds likes yourselves. What do you all reckon is the cause for this kind of momentum amongst for folks like yourselves and peers?
I think it harkens back to the Midwestern ethos of do-or-die. There’s a lot of respect for actual live musicianship in this digital/bedroom recording era, and actual bands will always take precedence. The live circuit in Cleveland is definitely focused on it, and there are plenty of places to play and plenty of bands to see. It’s probably refreshing for bands to come from a place like Brooklyn or LA, with scenes that are already so pored over and hyper specialized, and see that there’s still an emphasis on the working class and its inherent struggles.
Autumn and Winter release plans for Filmstrip?
Well the new record comes out on November 4, and we’re touring before and after that, thru the fall. We also have pretty much all the material for our next record ready to go, so winter will be focused on recording that and hitting the road again, making our way down to SXSW.
Moments of Matter will be available November 4 from Exit Stencil Recordings.
Find Filmstrip on the following tour dates:
25 Columbus – Tree Bar w/ WV White
26 Cleveland – Beachland w/ Field Trip, Blaka Watra, Green Escalators, and DJ Fred Gunn
01 Detroit – PJs Lager House w/ Pujol
04 Milwaukee – Yield
09 St. Louis – Plush
11 Cincinnati – The Comet w/ Fantastronaughts
15 Buffalo – Nietzsches w/ Aircraft
16 Syracuse – Green Gate Tavern w/ Blacklight Dahlia
19 NYC – Palisades w/ Ghost Punch, Sink Tapes, and Enney
20 Boston – Middlesex Lounge
24 Philadelphia – Chill Collins Art Space
30 Charlotte – Milestone
31 Jacksonville – The Hourglass Pub
06 West Palm Beach – Respectable Street
12 New Orleans – The Circle Bar
14 Tuscaloosa – Egan’s
17 Atlanta – 529 Club w/ The NEC
18 Nashville – The Stone Fox
22 Cleveland – The Happy Dog w/ Tinko, Aircraft, and WV White