MAGNET FEATURES SEX BBQ’S NEW SINGLE “LOCUS OF CONTROL,” DEBUT ALBUM OUT DEC. 9
RIYL: Syd Barett, Gorillaz, The Raveonettes, The Avalanches, Deerhoof, Portishead
SEX BBQ [L-R]: Steve Brown, Steve Albertson, Kate Jan, Rob Bellury, Steve LaBate. Photo by T.O. Lawrence.
“Their mischievous antics and psych-pop sound have us enamored.” – Scoutmob
“Part punk, part nursery rhyme, and all terrifically unique, unlike anything else we’ve heard this year.” – Speakers in Code
“A powerful force delivering a dynamic mix of fierce, sassy and creepy tunes.” – Atlanta Music Guide
“Like the B-52’s with more moxie.” – Under The Gun
“East Atlanta surf-rock space wizards.” – Flagpole
Magnet Magazine has featured SEX BBQ’s new single “Locus of control,” praising the band’s versatile sound. “It changes from garage rock to Asian sounding,” writes Magnet’s Eric Miller, “then it gets psychedelic, and eventually the choir chanting begins.”
“In both title and sound, Sex Noir City captures the vibe of this band,” says SEX BBQ singer/guitarist Kate Jan. “There’s definitely a party element, but there’s also something darker, mystic and fantastical that emerges when we create songs together. That’s the noir—sexy, mysterious, dynamic, and driven by stories mined from our love lives and nightmares.”
“This record celebrates the intricacies of city night life,” adds multi-instrumentalist Steve Albertson. “Seedy clubs, ecstatic dancing, spontaneous conversation, emotional turmoil, drunken camaraderie, drugs, jealousy, betrayal and, above all else, music.”
After two years making a name for themselves in the DIY trenches, playing shows heralded initially for their chaotic, train-off-the-tracks abandon, SEX BBQ has gone on to share bills with buzzing indie darlings and celebrated veterans alike, from Hospitality, Beach Day, Little Tybee and Concord America to Belle & Sebastian. The band formed in 2012 after skateboarding, guitar-playing neuropsychologist Jan moved from New York to Atlanta and met former Paste magazine editor Steve LaBate at a Braves/Mets baseball game. Before long, the two new friends began recording acoustic demos in Jan’s apartment. “I’d never had a proponent in the music world before,” Jan says. “Steve was really encouraging about my guitar playing, songs and voice. He pushed us playing together, and really helped bring me out of my shell.”
With new music written, they began seeking out a collective of musicians to bring their songs to life.
“Kate and I used to go see a lot of shows,” LaBate says. “At the time, we were both really into [now-defunct] Atlanta bands like Street Violence, Ghost Bikini and Mermaids—and we were hell bent on starting a surf-punk band of our own. Of course, with the diverse tastes and iron wills of the gang we ended up with, that idea went right out the window at the first practice.”
Most of the songs Jan and LaBate had written initially were scrapped in favor of new compositions, most often a skeleton started by Jan and fleshed out in rehearsal by the new band—Laura Palmer on piano, organ and co-lead vocals, Everett Steele on bass, Steve Brown on drums and Steve Albertson on just about everything else, including the kitchen sink. The resulting storm of clashing, disparate influences—garage, surf, psych, prog, metal, dream pop, indie rock, Tom Waits-style junkyard blues, B-52’s Peter Gunn riffs and frenetic dual-female vocals, nascent cars-and-girls rock & roll, Vaselines-indebted twee, a touch of Spaghetti Western weirdness and a whole lot of riot grrl attitude—gave SEX BBQ its unique sound.
The band’s first single, “Locus of Control” b/w “Wake Up” was recorded by Ed Rawls & Justin McNeight (Black Lips, Coathangers, Those Darlins) in the summer of 2012. Both songs now appear on the band’s debut, Sex Noir City, along with nine new tracks, all recorded by engineer/co-producer Damon Moon (Rrest, Iron Jayne) in the stone-walled basement of a cottage next to an abandoned rock quarry in East Atlanta.
Just as the sessions were about to begin, though, Jan messed herself up badly—she’d already had surgery on her wrist following a skateboarding accident, and could barely play guitar. Then, in a similar wipe out, she tore her meniscus. “While we were recording, my knee would lock up and I’d have to hop about,” Jan says. “Most of the time, I was on crutches—there are pictures of me playing guitar on one foot in the studio, but I barely remember. It was a bit of a fog with all the painkillers.”
Despite Jan’s injuries, the band pressed on, bottling the electricity of its live performances. Once complete, Sex Noir City was mixed in New York by Jan’s friend, sought-after metal engineer Paul Suarez (The Sounds, Common, Portugal. The Man), who—fun fact—was an assistant engineer on Guns N’ Roses’ Chinese Democracy. Finally the album was mastered back home in Atlanta by Chris Griffin (Swans, Angels of Light). By the time the record-making process had wrapped up, Palmer and Steele had decided to leave the band, and new bassist Rob Bellury (who’d played with drummer Brown in Little Horn and Del Venicci precursor Lille) joined the rhythm section full-time.
With SEX BBQ’s new lineup in place, the band will hit the road this fall in support of Sex Noir City. “I feel good about where we’re at now,” Jan says. “Everything is starting to gel again live, and we’re excited to finally get this set of songs out there—and to start writing some new ones, too.”