Nov 9, 2017

NYC’s Bootblacks offer a gothic melancholia bounced back and forth on synth-pop beats, a menacing vision of gloom that’s infectious. Bootblacks’ post-punk/new-wave sensibility is beautifully paired with Panther Macdonald’s vocals. They’re straight out of the post-punk catalog: romantic, dramatic, seductive. The band promises a seedier vision of NYC, one of decadence and decay.

Your latest record, Fragments sounds a hell of a lot darker than its predecessor. What happened?

The ’80s has a lot of great aesthetic stuff to explore. We all grew up in the era so maybe Freud would have something to say about that.

I personally had a tough year last year. Saw a lot of important loved ones leave. It wasn’t conscious but I’m sure it came out while we were writing the album. Fortunately, the style of music we make is receptive to those themes, so it still feels like an album that sounds like us.

Is the darkness of your sound a reflection of your average mood or a reaction to it?

It’s a reflection. None of the lyrical content was meant to be moody. The intention was for it to be more of a meditation on loss, what that means after the fact, how you live without someone. I think those themes are pretty universal.

References to the British electronic post-punk of the early ’80s are unmissable in your music. Are you also using synths from that era?

Yeah, we collectively love that whole soundscape. The ’80s has a lot of great aesthetic stuff to explore. We all grew up in the era so maybe Freud would have something to say about that. On the album, we used mostly the Korg Micro X, Yamaha DX7, and Roland Juno 80. We’re definitely not the most synth-studied band, which is a wormhole that goes pretty deep, but we are admirers of the real synth wizards out there.

How do you envision your sound evolving in the next few years, and are there any new pieces of gear you are thinking about exploring in this regard?

Hard to say where it’s going to go. I haven’t been a good predictor, so far. I do hope however that we try to take risks and make decisions that make each future song or album feel like we tried something new or challenged ourselves. I forget the rock cliche career arc, but we maybe are approaching our triple-album-recorded-in-a-dilapidated-mansion phase.

Roland Micro X

Is there anyone outside the band that has been instrumental in perfecting your sound? And in what way?

We’ve definitely had some really important people outside of the band help us with our sound and with the band in general. Jim Sclavunos helped us early on with realizing our individual strengths and working together as a band. Brian Scott Herman, who produced two records with us (Narrowed and Veins), helped us with teasing out hooks and textures in the songs. Hillary Johnson produced our newest album, and she was great to work with – she really knew how to coax the best performance out of each of us.

What other emerging, NYC-based artists are you enjoying these days?

This is always a tough question to answer because we are surrounded by really great bands and musicians here in NYC. One band we’ve really enjoyed watching come into their own is Statiqbloom, with the addition of Denman. They put on a killer live show, and are actually on tour with Skeleton Hands right now, who are also pals and a great band.

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