Inside a foam-padded attic at the top of a two-family home down a narrow tree-lined street just outside of Northampton is the birthplace of a band. Sharing wine and whiskey until well into the early morning, Western Mass. slop-rock power-trio Bunny's a Swine admit that their origins in this room, now their practice space, didn't initially sound that spectacular. A lot of bands, when they first form, have already played in previous collaborations or with some sort of training, either through schooling or countless hours spent as teens locked in bedrooms. Bunny's a Swine took a different route, one that began in this attic.
"We both knew nothing about music and Dustin had this space in the attic where we could play together," says guitarist/vocalist Emerson Stevens about Bunny's origins with guitarist/vocalist Candace Clement and drummer Dustin Ashley Cote. Cote quickly interjects: "And it was slops. All of our neighbors thought that we were a sludge-metal band."
Three years and as many records later, Bunny's a Swine last month launched its not-for-profit, vinyl/digital-exclusive label Tiny Radars last month, as well as a new full-length, All Day, Alright. The new effort, their first since last year's Literal Breakfast EP, collects 10 songs printed to vinyl and packaged in unique recycled jackets (my copy has Russian pianist Sviatoslav Richter on the inside). Each song has a corresponding piece of original artwork complete with lyrics. Also included is a small fact sheet about why vinyl is better. The record is self-described as "a meditation on the causes and effects of depression. . . . " Which is not to say, according to Stevens, that it's a depressing record.
"It is a very sad record but no one is going to figure it out from listening to it," says Clement. "And when they figure it out, they'll be so sad that they'll be worried for their safety."
Bunny's a Swine employs a storytelling of the everyday that hits somewhere between classic folk and sloppy grunge-rock — like a rehash of Modest Mouse's "Custom Concern" with the low end of any Hold Steady record. The vocal exchange between Stevens and Clement teeters on buoyant in the opener, "6:30/4:30," works through the hollow parting of "If You're Not Afraid" mid-record, and finds closure in the last-dance style chord shuffle of "Clint," which also provides the records most cohesive vocal pairing — Clement's Bilinda Butcher swoon in effortless harmony with Stevens's Isaac Brock snarl.
In that Northampton attic recently, the band spoke openly of their disregard for record sales or show turnout. Scrapping the music industry's old-school ideologies and focusing on the art at hand, All Day, Alright and Tiny Radars are straight DIY. Although Bunny's a Swine admit it would be nice to sell records, the product is ultimately for the group, almost a type of psychic self-preservation. Tiny Radars was founded on the principle of community and the idea of establishing some longevity for the sounds of their time — and because Clement had a credit card, jokes Stevens.
"All three of us feel strongly about vinyl records," says Clement. "It's all about people who get excited about this stuff. . . the community of people that make creative shit and don't feel like they have to adhere to any structure to do it."