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Growing and Thrones 

Tangible links exist between Growing and Thrones, two minimal instrumental bands originally hailing from Olympia, Wash. Both bands share an aesthetic of a few people rendering a gargantuan sound: Growing's Kevin Doria and Joe Denardo birth a kaleidoscope of tone, while ex-Melvins/Earth/High on Fire collaborator Joe Preston pummels down his own sludge trajectory with Thrones. The three were roommates back in Olympia, but Thrones has since moved on to Los Angeles while Growing now lives in a mechanical workshop in Brooklyn. We asked both bands the same questions, underlining their similar approaches to volume and composition and divergent sounds, but revealing their polar assessments of what it means to be an artist, financially, in 2006.

click to enlarge Growing
  • Growing

Growing

Formed: 2001

Member(s): Joe Denardo, Kevin Doria

Label: Megablade, Kranky

Sounds Like: An audiophile orgy of two guitars, multiple E-bows, myriad pedals, massive amplifiers

INDEPENDENT: How much does your live setup differ from what you take in to record an album?

KEVIN DORIA: It depends, but, if anything, things tend to develop more after they're recorded, which is strange. There's a difference in approach for us, so it's hard to compare it exactly. For a while, we wanted to only do stuff that we could reproduce live, and that's definitely still something we want to do. But these days, we're just developing them more live, making them more complex. But our aim is to have them communicating similarly.

Describe the perfect live set.

It's just comfortable. I guess the good way to describe a perfect set is to describe a bad one: When it's good, we're not rushing anything and it all goes into the flow. It doesn't fall apart. When things go wrong, it interrupts that flow, and the transitions are just too light.

What's alluring to you about loud volumes?

One of the things with Growing, we always did things because that's what we wanted to hear in music. Oftentimes, I would go see bands and things weren't really loud enough. Loud noises are fun. The physicality of it is nice, too. Not in a brutal sense, but you can feel it, which is also a nice thing. I'm sure there are things like overtones produced by volume, too, but I don't know anything about that kind of stuff.

Are you able to be a full-time musician at this point?

No, definitely not. Joe and I were just discussing the financial woes of the tour that we're about to embark on. We rarely come home from a tour with enough money to pay the rent, so there's definitely a lot of savings that goes into what we do. We work just jobs in the city, just really stupid stuff--everything from photo assisting and production assistant to driving a truck. It's not a financially sound way of life. Luckily, I don't give a shit. If I had any standard of living, I'd probably have a lot more to say about it, but it's always really grueling to get by, especially when your main source of income is going on tour and gas is $4 a gallon. It's one way or the other: We're going to occasionally take a massive financial hit--which is getting harder and harder since we live in the city--or we just won't be able to go places and play.

What are the benefits of being a solo project or duo?

Financially, it's kind of a catch because it's like we're not splitting it up that much, but a lot of times when word gets around you're a two-piece, people aren't interested in paying you what they'd pay four people. I feel like they take it less seriously in a financial sense.

click to enlarge Thrones
  • Thrones

Thrones

Formed: 1996

Member(s): Joe Preston

Label: Southern Lord

Sounds Like: Sludge riffs losing a battle to unnerving ambience or The Moment After A Horrible Catastrophe

INDEPENDENT: How much does your live setup differ from what you take in to record an album?

JOE PRESTON: Not much, actually. It's been an awfully long time since I've gone anywhere to record an album. I usually just do it at home because of budget and stuff. When I record albums, the setup differs in a way because I just use whatever I've got. Live it's definitely more stripped down. Lately I've started to use the same gear to record that I do live--I don't use so many extra synthesizers or guitars anymore.

Describe the perfect live set.

Good P.A. All my equipment works. Start off with a good mood, end off with a good mood. A receptive audience. Not necessarily an audience that's enjoying it, but it's nice to play to an audience of people who are actually listening.

What's alluring to you about loud volumes?

Loud volumes feel good if the tones are right. Some loud things are just excruciating to me, but others aren't. I like to feel things like my pants rippling in the wind. Loud volumes feel empowering.

Are you able to be a full-time musician at this point?

I have for actually quite a while. I lived in Olympia for a couple years. It's much cheaper there than it is here in L.A. As the years have been going, my ability to support myself off of music has been steadily growing. It's definitely getting easier.

What are the benefits of being a solo project or duo?

Economically, there are a bunch of benefits. It's way more feasible to tour. Back when I first started doing Thrones I had some drummers that I worked with, but I always had the feeling that I wasn't satisfied. I'd want to tell them what to play and what not to play. But you know, it hurts me when people tell me what to do. So I just started using the drum machine again. And I guess I painted myself into a solitary corner. Really, it's a gift and curse. You have way more freedom, but you also have to make all of these choices on your own.

Growing and Thrones play Nightlight in Chapel Hill on Monday, May 22 at 9 p.m. Eric Weddle and Jason Bivins open for the Unstable Ensemble. For more with both bands, see www.indyweekblogs.com/scan.

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