Up-and-comers at Pitchfork Music Fest: Cymbals Eat Guitars

A&E chats with Cymbals Eat Guitars in Union Park.

Cymbals Eat Guitars hittin’ the trees.

Jules Ameel

Cymbals Eat Guitars hittin’ the trees.

Staten Island four-piece Cymbals Eat Guitars functions on two separate wavelengths. First, there are the rhythm section and the keyboards. Together, they form a dense, melodic soundscape that harkens back to Pavement and Built to Spill. But then, thereâÄôs frontman/guitarist Joseph âÄúFerociousâÄù DâÄôAgostino. With his unassuming, youthfully plain face, itâÄôs flabbergasting to process the noises that come from his mouth/guitar. As the rest of the band meanders through their indie rock motions, DâÄôAgostino quells explosions of barking vocal tirades and finger-bleeding guitar freakouts âÄî but they frequently break through and the dynamic results suit the band perfectly. The group is currently touring hard amid a storm of press buzz surrounding their debut LP âÄúWhy There Are Mountains.âÄù Recent opening gigs for the Flaming Lips and a knockout early afternoon slot at the Pitchfork Festival should do nothing to change the course. The coupling of superb indie rock influences executed aptly by the rest of the band with DâÄôAgostinoâÄôs undeniable early Isaac Brock-ish leadership should certainly justify more prime festival slots and headlining gigs in the near future. Still remarkably youthful, Cymbals Eat Guitars epitomize the worthiness of the âÄúband on the riseâÄù tag. A&E caught up with Cymbals Eat Guitars in the wake of their stellar opening set during PitchforkâÄôs Saturday events. I saw you play a show in New York two weeks ago in front of about 100 people. Today, there were thousands. HowâÄôs that transition? Neil Berenholz: ItâÄôs just amazing. ItâÄôs bizarre at this point, in a pleasant way. ItâÄôs everything you want âÄî this mass of people and theyâÄôre all excited to be there. Joe DâÄôAgostino: A year ago there were eight people, and they were all our friends. The lead singer of the band Fucked Up gave the crowd a 9.9. What score do you give? Berenholz: A 10.10 DâÄôAgostino: A 10.0 You guys are really young, obviously. ThereâÄôs a lot of backlash experienced by bands that blow up really big, really fast these days. Are you concerned about that? DâÄôAgostino: No, because we donâÄôt suck live. If itâÄôs something real, and if the people involved in it believe in whatâÄôs happening âĦ I think weâÄôve avoided it. Brian Hamilton: So far, so good. DâÄôAgostino: And with the second record, weâÄôre writing much better stuff then with the first record. I can see it maybe getting a lot better before it gets worse. When you guys are writing songs, recording and especially performing, how do you balance JoeâÄôs guitar and vocal freakouts with the rest of the band? DâÄôAgostino: ThatâÄôs been a big part of the growth of our band âÄî just figuring out levels. I mean, I like to play loud. Matthew Miller : Figuring out how the three of us can be as loud as you. You said in another interview that you like to feel like the hairs on the audiencesâÄô necks are standing up. Is it harder to gauge whether youâÄôre having that effect in a bigger, festival setting? DâÄôAgostino: Today it was easy to see that people were enjoying themselves. People were really into it. Miller: Bunch of mouths âĦ singing our lyrics. DâÄôAgostino: At shows, maybe 25 percent, 15 percent of the audience is really having that experience, that real experience. If you had my job âÄî and feel free to be creative with this âÄî what genre would you dub yourselves? DâÄôAgostino: We honestly are just a rock band. ThereâÄôs weird guitar squalls so people call it experimental âĦ Hamilton: Spazz-out freak-core. DâÄôAgostino: âĦ I donâÄôt think thereâÄôs anything experimental. ItâÄôs a rock orchestra from hell. LetâÄôs go with that one. One year from now, where do you guys wanna be? Miller: Back here. [Entire band agrees] Miller: Playing the main stage âĦ in the evening time. DâÄôAgostino: Already, all of the most preposterous dreams IâÄôve had are coming true. Like, opening for the Flaming Lips âÄî weâÄôre doing that in London for two days âÄî and like Wilco and then Dinosaur Jr. on Aug. 8 âĦ I canâÄôt even rightly say where itâÄôs gonna be in a year. I donâÄôt know how it could get better. Miller: As far as the opportunities weâÄôve been handed, itâÄôs unbelievable. Dreams come true all over the place.