Thursday, September 11, 2014

Square Zeros #26: Jonathan Daily (The Black Black, Vansanity, Little Red Mittens)

I can't do that, man. The really early stuff? It's just way too embarrassing. I've got some stuff from a few years ago, from an early version of The Black Black — I could bring those, but those early recordings...I don't think—

...Yeah, alright, I'll do it, you're right, let's do this. Let's do this, this sounds awesome.”

— Jon Daily, having been asked after a few drinks to come on Square Zeros at Louis Ramos (SZ #13) of The Amputees' birthday show at Don Pedro, April 11, 2014

See also: Square Zeros, literally everyone's first reaction.

But for a real lifer musician like Jon Daily of Brooklyn noise-punk band The Black Black, the opportunity to delve into your own creative inner workings is too tempting to dismiss. And when you're sitting on a great record (The Black Black will be releasing their new album Boogie Nights in mid-November), and you're working with a terrific, supportive label (Brooklyn-based rock imprint Money Fire Records), circumstances allow you a certain leeway in letting people hear some early recordings you might normally relegate to the back of mom's closet in Suburbia, U.S.A.

For what it's worth, Jon also got it wrong: the tracks he brought us from two of his earliest projects, Vansanity and Little Red Mittens, are not at all embarrassing, at least musically. Sonically, sure — the too-trebly, over-compressed guitars on the Vansanity recordings don't exactly caress the eardrum — but musically, a lot of the elements at play in The Black Black feature in Jon's early tunes, and those elements make all of his music work. Angular, buzzsaw guitars. Pounding basslines and pummeled drums. And while Jon's more emotional early vocals have given way to a measured and confident delivery, there's an earnestness and vitality that carries over.

Vansanity is the name Jon retroactively applied to his first post-college solo project. While he laughingly assured us that this was not a real band, with a name, that released music for popular consumption, "This Corner" kicks in like a lost cut off of Young Loud and Snotty or an alternate-lyric version of Black Flag's "Black Coffee". Its ear-shatteringly distorted vocals and guitars channel all sorts of rage, while the bass-heavy "Alcoholic Victory" builds a high, dissonant guitar line over a bursting, admittedly too-cranked bassline that still manages to come off surprisingly sinuous. The howled vocals — recorded in Jon's parents cement-walled basement into a Radio Shack mic — are an absolute affront, but one that fits the music perfectly.

Perhaps the one person who did get to hear Vansanity before us was Jon's creative partner in Little Red Mittens, as they sized up what each other was capable of in the early stages. The track Jon brought in from Little Red Mittens, "Karen O", arose from an infatuation with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer that eventually took the form of a diss track:

"So, that was whenever Fever To Tell came out, and I loved Fever To Tell, and obviously, I was a Karen O fan, and I started writing this song — I wouldn't say it was a love song — but it was just like a 'Hey, Karen O, I think you're cool' kind of song, and then I was like, you know, I don't really wanna write a song like that, so then I just flipped it and was like 'Well, we'll just talk shit on Karen O, and see what happens.'"

And now, for the coup de grâce: during our interview with Jon, he reminded himself that The Black Black had covered one of his early Vansanity songs at one of their first shows. You wanna see The Black Black in action? You wanna see Vansanity as it was meant to be played? A lot of people come on this show and joke about their current band covering one of their old songs: Jon Daily delivered.

Thanks again to Jon for sitting in with us, and be sure to catch The Black Black tonight (Thursday, September 11) at Legion, and then again at Bermuda Triangle on Friday, October 3 for night two of ZeroFest, our four-day, twenty-band festival from October 2–5. They've also got a CMJ showcase set up at Legion on Friday, October 24, and they'll be releasing their LP Boogie Nights at Cake Shop on Thursday, November 13.

The podcast opens with "What the World Needs Now" and closes with "Until Death Do Us Party", two unreleased tracks from Boogie Nights. Enjoy.

Now, let's all hope and pray that we're not on Karen O's shit list.

— JM


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