Noise & Color spoke with Portland punk rock veterans And And And about the band’s 6-year milestone, or as vocalist and songwriter Nathan Baumgartner ingeniously framed it, their “satanic anniversary.” While the group is still making large strides in terms of new content produced and songwriting diversity, the bread and butter of And And And seems to stem from the familiar. These five friends have been playing music together since the trials and tribulations of puberty, and don’t plan on stopping any time soon.
We met outside Dante’s before their anniversary show and talked about the new album in the words, being labeled a “drunk band,” and potential political slogans (specifically guitarist Berg Radin’s “Bernie One With Me,” which I believe speaks to the greater message Senator Sanders wishes to send the youth of the nation).
Noise & Color: So what should we talk about?
Bim Ditson: I think we should start by talking about politics.
Berg Radin: This is the first time Nathan’s ever been really into presidential elections and stuff.
Nathan Baumgartner: Yeah, I recently registered to vote. I’m not going to vote for someone that I don’t think is right. I’m thinking of making a bumper sticker that says: Vote Bernie, Because Fuck This Shit.
BR: It should say: Bernie One With Me, and he’s got a joint in his mouth. Get it? Burning one with me?
BD: I had no idea talking about politics would get everyone to talk so much.
N&C: So today is your six year anniversary as a band, how does it feel?
BD: It’s not really a big deal to us, actually.
NB: We realized after we accepted the offer to play this show that it was our anniversary, we did the math and it was six years and six days after our first show, and there used to be six dudes in the band. 666. It’s our satanic anniversary. Praise the devil!
BR: Well, we have a MASSIVE west coast tour tomorrow.
N&C: You guys do the West Coast tour loop a lot.
BR: Mostly we do it because we can’t afford our rent and it works out to sublet our apartment. I’m kidding, I live in an RV.
N&C: Is there anything special you guys are going to do tonight?
BD: We have an acoustic album [available exclusively on cassette at the anniversary show] that Nathan and John [Sallas] recorded, all written by Nathan.
NB: Some of them are older songs, like “She’s Got a Gun.” We added a couple songs that are going to be on the next album, and a few songs that will never be released anywhere else. I’m working on a project where I’m going to take all the songs we’ve done and release them on a collection of tapes. This specific tape is called Quit, but the whole project is called Give Me a Reason to Quit.
N&C: There seems to be a theme developing with your album titles.
NB: Yeah definitely, our last album was called The Failure, this project is called Give Me a Reason to Quit and our next album is called Idiot.
N&C: Tell us about Idiot.
BD: It’s half recorded, and in December we’re going to start recording the rest of it. We’re recording at Jeff Bond’s studio. He’s great to work with, it’s been a really fun experience. It’s a perfectly capable studio and he’s a rad engineer and the whole process is actually affordable. We don’t need a lot of bells and whistles.
N&C: Rumor has it you guys used to have crazy sets and get kicked out of shows. Is And And And getting old?
NB: I only got kicked out of one show! Berg climbed on the balcony and smashed John’s bass once.
BR: We also got kicked out of the Red Room. For me, I was just excited about being involved in a project, and I just kind of wanted to smash shit.
BD: I was so young, I take no responsibility for that.
BR: I didn’t play a whole lot of stuff so I had to keep myself busy. I played secondary drums, keyboard, sometimes tambourines. A lot of the time I was just spraying beer on the crowd.
NB: And running around with his shirt off.
BR: Then the band came together and realized what an amazing guitar player I was and decided I should play lead.
BD: This is where you should insert that he [Berg] lives in an RV.
NB: We have become more mature strangely enough. We’ve still got a long way to go, though.
BD: It has a lot to do with getting to a point where we are capable enough to work together and play a song together so we can hear what’s wrong, it’s just not feasible to be that crazy all the time and play good music.
BR: I have to focus on playing music more so than jumping around.
NB: And at what point does it just become spectacle?
N&C: You guys get called “party animals” or a lot.
BR: A lot of the earlier reviews about the band said we were party animals or “beer drinking crazy dudes.”
NB: I wasn’t even drinking that much then. I drink much more now.
N&C: A lot of fans that go to your shows would drink a lot though, maybe that’s why?
BD: Yeah, a lot of the times the crowd was getting really drunk for our shows.
Ryan Wiggans: It was the crowd’s fault we got blackout drunk and cut our hands that one time…
BR: People want us to be drunk. Half the band got kicked out of Star Theater for our show at Musicfest NW because the venue gave us like four handles of Jack Daniels and a bucket of beer. And it was Nathan’s birthday!
NB: I dragged a broken bicycle from an alleyway into the bar that night and told everyone, “This is my bike now.”
BD: That image gets perpetuated even more if most of the fans that come to your shows are really good friends and it becomes a homie party. If you know everyone there, you’re prone to drink more and have a blast.
N&C: There are certainly worse images.
BR: I’m kind of curious about if you go to a restaurant and there’s cow tongue and cow head, you’re kind of an idiot because the head has the tongue in it.
BD: That’s why you have to ask if it’s “tongue in” or not.
NB: The head is just forehead meat, man.
N&C: Any final thoughts, guys?
NB: We’ve been thinking about opening up our own bar.
BD: It’s called Burnerz, with a “Z” and everyday we have a special, where, for $10, you can get a shot of well whisky, a tall can, and a pre-rolled joint. It’s just an order window and a patio. Take our idea and run with it.
NB: We dare you to steal this idea.
BR: But my dad will sue you.
N&C: Are you concerned that a bar called Burnerz may attract a Burning Man crowd?
BR: Disney actually wanted to sponsor us at Burning Man this year, we had to decline though.
BD: Sorry, after 7pm you can’t take anything we say seriously.
If you’re in California, check out And And And on the final dates of their current West Coast tour:
10/7 Los Angeles @ Lot 1 – FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/1485782345050375/
10/8 San Francisco @ Amnesia – FB: https://www.facebook.com/events/412368448957275/
See them next locally January 7 at Mississippi Studios with There Is No Mountain and Rare Diagram. (link)