MakeupBreakup co-founders Michael Lamantia Jr. and Alexander Laorenza (aka Zan) have no delusions of rock 'n' roll grandeur; in fact, they genuinely couldn't care less what you or I or anyone else thinks about their music. It's a muggy night on Empire Street, and Makeupbreakup have just finished another set at AS220, their first with lead singer Lamantia on drums and vocals. Anyone expecting the feel-good synths of summer were instead blindsided by one of the loudest shows I've ever heard — at AS220 or anywhere else for that matter. Not what one might expect from MakeupBreakup's brand of power pop. Bassist Eric McNiel wheels out an enormous six-foot amp and shrugs off the five-song set. McNiel would rather talk up the finer points of cannabis cultivation than expound on the trio's performance. "Dude, seriously, who gives a shit," Laorenza chimes in. "We have been playing around here for so long and we've played this room so many times, at this point we're not going to win over fans one at a time."
PLAYING THE GAME Lamantia, McNiel and Laorenza.
I have heard this seemingly-bitter sentiment a few times before over multiple tequila shots, Coronas, and associated vices, but these guys have been around the block. Mikeylams and Zan formed A Trillion Barnacle Lapse in 2000, a post-punk outfit laced with new wave keys and synths that toured the country and released a handful of acclaimed platters (ATBL's 2003 release Black Lava earned a 7.8 from the notoriously fickle Pitchfork.com). Dudes have paid their dues, as Lamantia emphatically informs me:
"The next time someone wants to assume we are some tight-jean, emo new-jack kids jumping on the electronic rock bandwagon, I recommend doing the research first."
Following a year of preparation laying down the loops and various electronic elements, the trio rented a studio in the woods of Lunenburg, Massachusetts, for three days last winter and knocked out the nine tracks, handling all production duties. Lamantia also directed the band's first video, "My Way, To the Top," one of the standout cuts from SCENTS (due on August 31). The album instantly digs in with "WOW," which sounds decidedly harder than the demo version I heard a few months back (including an eye-twitching feedback finale). "I'm John River, I Won't Stop," "Chrome," and "Sexsomnia" are highlights, as is closing cut "Create Something From Nothing," Laorenza's favorite ("There is just so much shit going on, and the mix of melody is so abstract"). I'd go with the gloom-rock centerpiece "May Rx" (their love of Interpol is on full display here), a slinky lurker that quickly transforms into a deafening jamfest. "May Rx" is a set-destroying finale, and provided Lamantia ample opportunity to beat the shit out of his kit for a good 12 minutes at AS220. This song alone will be worth leaving the house on a Monday night.
For all the who-gives-a-shit inner circle talk, McNiel, Laorenza, and Lamantia are confident and genuinely thrilled about the new record, even hiring an NYC-based PR firm to work the press as the band gears up for a tour that includes stops in Philly, Chapel Hill, Myrtle Beach, and Atlanta.
"We decided, 'Hey, why not play the game a bit,' ya know?" Laorenza says. "We are working with a publicist and trying this angle. If it doesn't work out, then oh well.
"Either way, we will keep putting the record out for our own edification. And if people want to listen, even better."
MAKEUPBREAKUP | Monday, August 9 @ 9 pm | The 201, 201 Westminster Street, Providence | 401.454.4581 | MySpace.com/makeupbreakup