by Dan Agacki
In their brief time as a band, One More Final I Need You have existed to bridge a musical gap. Previously, Landon Deaton helmed the drum throne for the short-lived Heat Death. Taylor Campbell currently plays guitar in noise punkers Suffer Head. While they’ve cut their teeth within a more rock based scene, saxophone player Anthony D’Agostino has operated within the academic side, studying jazz and improv at UW Milwaukee. While travelling seemingly parallel roads, the trio independently developed similar visions. Their immediate bond has resulted in a fruitful handful of months as a band. One More Final I Need You plays at Acme Records on Thursday, June 21 at 8PM.
What made you want to start an improv group?
Taylor Campbell: It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. In my other band, Suffer Head, we will touch on that area but never full on. We still play songs -- structured rock songs. I know [Anthony] has been playing improv for a while.
Anthony D’Agostino: Yeah, that’s mostly what I do as far as musical stuff. Amanda Schoofs put Landon in touch with me. She is a professor at UWM in the music department. When I was a student there, I was studying with her and she taught me a lot about performing, free improvising, and playing music. One day Landon hit me up on Facebook. I didn’t know either of them.
Landon Deaton: I think it’s been a fantasy for probably a decade to work on something that’s really out there and different and not a standard band setup. Not traditional pop songs, stuff like that. Me and Taylor got together one time without Anthony. Where are we going to find a horn player? We’d been asking people for a month and we couldn’t find anyone. I was reminded that I saw Amanda play a set in 2015 and I had seen that she’s constantly posting stuff about experimental education at UWM. I reached out to her and explained what I wanted to do and she knew exactly who to put me in touch with. We met that following Saturday. The following week, the second time we were in the same room together, we recorded our first album.
TC: That first track, “I Was Afraid to Wake You,” was our first time playing together. It was the first hour of us meeting, we recorded that.
LD: It’s all first takes. With Heat Death, we were a band for nine or ten months before we started recording something. [OMFINY] walked out of our first practice with 25 minutes of music or something.
Do you have any ground rules for what you’re doing in the song?
TC: The first song that was on Bandcamp was four chords and that was the rules of the song. Generally, on the Self Titled album, Landon had a bunch of ideas, but they weren’t structures. ‘This is the feeling’ and we’ll go off that. Other times we’ll just play.
LD: There have been two different ways that we’ve recorded stuff. We have either had really loose ground rules set ahead of time -- we’ll make two or three points but we don’t talk about when or how that’ll happen. We kind of know the jist of what we want to express before we hit record. We’ve also made some recordings where it was like let’s see what happens.
TC: “Otaku Pervert” was just play as aggressively and awful as possible.
LD: It should be the ugliest thing we’ve recorded or we will make --something uncomfortable.
Anthony went to UWM and you learned about doing improv there?
AD: I was a jazz student. I was studying bass. That’s the main thing I do. I got hip to the fact that Amanda Schoofs was doing a Contemporary Improvisation class every semester. I didn’t know anything about it, but I joined it. It was super cool because every week she assigned us a recording to listen to and we all had to talk about it and think about those ideas.
Do you guys have any background in improv?
TC: No, just the time I’ve forced Suffer Head to be a more improv band. I don’t have official schooling, I just stopped doing anything social and started practicing guitar for two years straight. I started listening to a lot of free jazz and improv.
LD: I heard a little bit years ago and then I went down the rabbit hole and consumed all the weird music I could possibly find. I introduced myself to free jazz and improv stuff as well as all the little pockets and corners of that that get even weirder. It’s kind of like the dream joke band that everyone talks about making. I’ve had tons of friends who are involved in noise who mention wanting to start a free jazz band but no one ever does. I’ve been hearing that for about ten years from different people. I never actually thought about doing it until I was not in a band and free.
TC: I never associate free jazz stuff with noise. What we’re doing, I think, is really melodic. I don’t find it to be crazy.
When you said it was a free jazz improv group, when I heard it, it was a lot more melodic than I expected.
TC: There’s a lot of textural stuff happening on the Self Titled album, but I think I have such a hard time breaking away from melody. When we were thinking of a name and writing down adjectives, the big one was “longing.” A desperate sort of thing. Melody is the best way to convey that and have some sort of central grounding. Plus Anthony is good at saxophone so he makes everything sound good.
While you’re in the song, are you guys just kind of going? Is it a “feel” thing and you feel out where to go with it?
TC: I think so. There’s occasional minimal gesturing.
LD: There are definitely moments where we fall into something that we all know is right. We stick with it for a bit and then somebody will look at me in a way that says ‘this is about to change.’ It’s really unstructured in that way.
AD: Active listening while playing with each other. I feel like the fact that we were able to do something productive our first time playing with each other that we’re all good enough listeners.
LD: It’s almost scary how quickly we were all on the same page. I brought in a post-it note to our second practice as a trio that said “let’s record this track.” It was based on a nightmare that I had where I was walking through the woods and I came upon my own corpse. The structure of the song was going to be about half the time creepy and building tension walking through the woods, and we’d have a freak out when you have the scary moment. Somehow, we listened back to our first take of it and the exact halfway point, six minutes into the 12 minute song, we got really quiet and looked at each other and then busted into this terrifying panic. It was so not planned. I couldn’t believe they immediately did what I was imagining without other communication.
TC: That song I was trying to do all those natural sounds. Scary whine in the woods. Right at that halfway point there is that drum hit, frozen and then rapid fire notes going everywhere.
LD: I’m super thankful to have found people with a similar sensibility. I think that there are a lot of musicians that would not be capable of playing something based on a feeling or abstract idea.
Even people who are into weirder styles of rock based music, it’s still tied to that basis of rock music.
TC: It’s still going to end up being some minor pentatonic jam. I could just do that with a backing track. ‘Let’s just jam out on this.’ Ok...I guess we can play this same chord for 16 bars, sure [laughs].
Where do you see yourself fitting on the local music spectrum, if at all?
AD: I feel like we are able to traverse scenes because we’re coming from different scenes. Landon and Taylor are more from the rock scene, and I do mostly this kind of stuff. Because of those connections in different worlds we can fit into both of those parts of the scene. A lot of the free improv shows I go to in Milwaukee have a small handful of people who come to every show. It’s super cool, but I want to see more people coming to these shows. When you guys said you have been wanting to do stuff like this but didn’t know anybody, I was thinking it was weird because I know a lot of people. Why is there a divide here? I feel like everybody could be a little more connected and this is a way to connect these worlds. People that are interested in both getting to know each other.
TC: People seem pleased with it and they weren’t necessarily jazz people or improv people. I think it’s still relatable enough to where someone who has a slight pulling toward experimental music can enjoy it. It’s not some dense impenetrable thing. There’s a lot on the Self Titled album that reminds me of Godspeed You Black Emperor. It’s big but there’s still something there to hang your hat on. If it was 15 minutes of “Otaku Pervert,” I don’t think people would like that. I would love it.