But the city’s rising rents proved too much. They settled into the low-rent hamlet of Charlottesville, Virginia (Langenus: “We paid $75 a month rent and could afford to practice six hours a day, every day, and would then spend six or seven months on tour”) and hammered out the foundations of USAISAMONSTER: haywire guitars, caveman noise prog, and an obsession with Native American history and folklore. It was a big step in the band’s parochial and survivalist attitude toward music and life — one that had the duo recording The Joshua Tree (2003) in the wilderness on gasoline generator power and peppering albums with acoustic recordings full of crinkling campfire leaves and twigs.
“We were figuring out where we were coming from,” says Langenus. “If you were from Oakland, you could be as big a total weirdo as me and you’d still be playing pop punk because that’s just like the folk music out there. We were from the Northeast, so we played noise rock. Simple as that.”
In Charlottesville, they ran Pudhouse, a defining underground outpost that helped connect noise scenes from Providence to Michigan as a kind of last bastion of face-to-face networking.
“People were stuck back then,” says Langenus. “Until a lot of the different noise scenes got together, a lot of these bands had no choice but to play hardcore shows when they went on the road, and that was a total catastrophe.”
What a difference 10 years makes. Langenus and Hohmann, along with groups like Baltimore’s Nautical Almanac, have helped create what amounts to noise rock’s own underground touring circuit, a feat Black Flag would be proud of. But leave it to Langenus to sweat its enduring purity.
“Now it seems like DIY can be some people’s living,” he says, with a hint of regret. “Some of these kids probably have savings accounts, and that completely freaks me out.”
USAISAMONSTER + NEPTUNE + BIG DIGITS + ZOIG-MA-NOIG | Great Scott, 1222 Comm Ave, Boston | October 7 at 9 pm | $9 | 617.566.9014 orwww.greatscottboston.com