Wall Street Journal, Interview, Controlled Bleeding

It’s been a long time coming — more than a decade, in fact — but Controlled Bleeding, the long-running underground experimental-music group from Long Island, N.Y., has a new album on the way.

“Larva Lumps and Baby Bumps,” a two-disc record, will go on sale Aug. 26 on CD and Sept. 23 on vinyl. “Driving Through Darkness,” the relentless and laser-focused instrumental jam that kicks off the album, premieres exclusively today on Speakeasy. Listen to the track below.

Paul Lemos — Controlled Bleeding’s founder, guitarist and compositional mastermind — said the album reflects a return to his musical comfort zone, even if the group’s sound is as complex and varied as ever, with prog, jazz and industrial, among other genres, in the mix. Lemos’s guitar is at the front and center of a lot of what happens on the album, particularly in “Driving Through Darkness,” which one could easily imagine serving as the musical score for an action sequence in a brainy thriller.

Controlled Bleeding blazed a trail in its early days with its heady, punk-flavored style. Founded by Lemos in 1978, the group would go on to play shows at legendary New York City punk club CBGB and churn out an array of recordings from the 1980s into the 2000s, diving into the noise and industrial genres along the way. The past decade, however, hasn’t been so prolific for the group. Lemos, 58, has dedicated less time to the studio and focused more on teaching high school English on Long Island. His longtime bandmates Joe Papa and Chris Moriarty also died within two years of each other.

“I was in musical limbo,” Lemos said. “After my bandmates died I went back to what I was most comfortable doing by myself, which is being a guitar player again.”

To get back in the swing of things, Lemos reunited with drummer Tony Meola, a member of the band from its early years, and worked with Mike Bazini (also known as DJ Butterface) and Chvad SB, who programmed “Driving Through Darkness” and the album’s 22-minute-plus closing track, “The Perks of Being a Perv.”

Lemos said the final track is the best reflection of where he’s at, musically. It took months to piece together the track’s complex structure, and “Driving Through Darkness” is relatively conservative compared to it. “It’s very much a departure from what I’ve done before,” Lemos said.

The new album’s second platter, which Lemos calls its bonus disc, features material recorded with respected engineer and producer Martin Bisi, who’s worked with acts such as Sonic Youth, Swans, White Zombie and Herbie Hancock. “It was harrowing,” Lemos said. “It was about 100 degrees in there, and we just played and played.”

The Controlled Bleeding founder said he’s thinking about what’s next, but he has developed a sense of perfectionism that has led him to proceed with a slower pace. He also doesn’t know much about digital recording. “I’m at the mercy of working with people who know the technology that I don’t understand,” Lemos said. Rather, he’s been using outmoded analog equipment in his studio on the top floor of his 85-year-old mother’s house on Long Island. “She keeps threatening to throw me out of there,” he joked.

There’s also Lemos’s teaching job, which he loves despite the way it saps his energy. “Doing music [full-time], I think I would have lived a very dissipated existence,” he said. “I need that other thing to keep me on solid ground.”

Interview by Michael Calia.

Interview originally published here:
http://blogs.wsj.com/speakeasy/2016/06/16/controlled-bleeding-taps-into-old-energy-with-driving-through-darkness-exclusive/

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