A Place to Bury Strangers
Feel the Noise
Nov 28, 2012
After watching Flashdance, there can be a lingering desire to live in a warehouse. Jennifer Beals’ character brings a cache to making a storage space that is meant for inanimate objects your home. This desire is rekindled every time that movie airs on television, and A Place to Bury Strangers’ Oliver Ackermann is not immune to it. Ackermann has brought his teenage dream to reality. The guitarist/vocalist for the Brooklyn-based band lives in the enhanced version of the Flashdance warehouse with about a dozen roommates who change the space according to their creative inclinations.
Located in Williamsburg, the warehouse is a multipurpose space. Besides a dwelling with as many rooms as it has residents (and three bathrooms, only two of which have showers, but one of those showers can hold up to 15 people), it is also home to Ackermann’s Death By Audio guitar pedal company. Depending on who inhabits the warehouse, it functions as an art gallery, rehearsal space, performance venue, and in the case of A Place to Bury Strangers, a recording studio. The group’s latest full-length, Worship, was wholly recorded there.
“It takes a certain kind of person to live in this kind of mostly work, slightly live space,” admits Ackerman, who on a rainy New York City afternoon has taken refuge in the basement of the Lower East Side venue Pianos. “We change the warehouse, rebuild things into what we want, reinvent it for a new project. Basically, we rearrange it to suit our needs.”
This is not dissimilar to what happens with the band. Ackermann is the only stable member of A Place to Bury Strangers. Since the band’s inception 10 years ago, Ackermann has driven the noisy, distorted, static-y direction the group has become known for. The other members have fluctuated, but for Worship, the entering of bassist Dion Lunadon has had a marked influence on the band’s sound.
“In the past, it was me doing most of the stuff and telling other people what to do,” says Ackermann, expounding on the contributions of Lunadon. “It’s been fantastic to have someone I can collaborate more with. He’s a real songwriter and comes from a garage rock ‘n’ roll background. It’s cool to have a different angle on everything.”
Worship reliably has the volume and feedback that fans of A Place to Bury Strangers tune in to hear. Shrieking guitars and overwhelming use of Ackermann’s famed pedals are in full effect. While the band has always been more about sounds than songs—such as on the Worship track “Revenge,” which at a certain point gets so lost in its own squeals that it forgets where it is—there is a slight head turn toward defined songwriting, exemplified on the almost peppy “And I’m Up.” But if it were left to Ackermann, the focus would remain on tinnitus-inducing volume, particularly when playing live.
“It’s an interesting concept to be at a show that is almost painful,” he reflects. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily a good thing. I’m not trying to make it popular to make it painful to be at a show. But we were talking about doing a show where we play every one of our songs. It would take three hours. What would people do once we got into hour two when it’s just crazy loud and there’s strobe lights and stuff? No one would know what was going to happen. That would be rough.”