Interview with vocalist / guitarist Ev Gold and drummer Paul Claro | By Brian O’Neill | Photo by Alex Bershaw
“Undoubtedly there’s a Spinal Tap-esque element that surrounds this venture,” concedes Cinema Cinema vocalist and guitarist Ev Gold, remarking on the mockumentary band’s Jazz Odyssey departure. “Put it like this – if we had a career, this would be a career suicide record.”
Ev and his cousin, drummer Paul Claro, speak in thick Brooklyn accents. It’s obvious that they are right at home sitting in Martin Bisi’s BC Studios, where they will be playing live later that night. The albums they recorded here, 2014’s A Night At The Fights and 2017’s Man Bites Dog, are furious displays of angular guitar skronk, wheezing vocals, and throbbing off-kilter percussion. The kind of sounds that prompted Greg Ginn to personally invite them to open for Black Flag.
Before Man Bites Dog was released, the group had already collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Matt Darriau. It might not appear that the Brooklyn duo’s brash punk would mesh with one of the most influential jazz musicians of the last fifteen years, but they had more in common than one might suspect.
“Improvisation is a large part of what Paul and I do,” explains Gold. “It’s been like that since the very beginning. When a friend introduced us to Darriau, his thing was like, ‘I’ll play with you guys, but the deal is, we’ve got to show up and just play.’ Ultimately, we decided to take it into the studio for a full-night’s session, which yielded two albums’ worth of material.”
CCXMD, released on Nov. 1, 2019, is the first of those albums. “Cinema Cinema x Matt Darriau seemed to be the proper name to pop on this thing,” explained Gold. “We wrestled a bit with call[ing] this a side project. Then we realized that this was just Cinema Cinema being renegotiated by having this titanic reed-master, who has the wind of a thousand sails.”
The album is a throwback to the experimental artists that emerged from New York’s halcyon days, including Sonic Youth, Swans, and John Zorn. This is not lost on the band, who didn’t seem to embrace their homeland until now.
“When we would say we’re from Brooklyn, [people] were like, ‘but where are you really from?’” laughs Claro.
“We really didn’t have any interest in embracing our Brooklyn heritage,” admits Gold. “We feel like we’ve reclaimed it now, so I’m glad those kinds of sounds and sensibilities are coming through.”
The live performance at BC Studio that evening didn’t include Darriau, despite the show being on the cusp of CCXMD’s release. Inconsistent timelines are par for the course for a band that waited to release CCXMD until Man Bites Dog, which was recorded later, came out.
Gold smiles. “This summer here with Martin [Bisi], we did a session with Thor Harris [Swans, Angels of Light, Shearwater],” he says. “That yielded what is going to be a part of a double-album that we’re working on. Tonight, we’re playing the second part.”
They have plans to do shows as a trio this spring. Probably not supporting a puppet show like in Spinal Tap, but they’re ready for whatever comes.
“About five years ago, we were playing a gig in a cemetery,” Gold says, and sighs. “As we finished, a magician was introduced. We’re literally dripping sweat, we had just finished the last note, and the follow-up act was a magician.”
“Who we had to sit through,” Claro says, cracking up. “Because our gear was still on stage.”