Like the majority of you, all of us in the Philadelphia area are staying at home, learning to adapt to our “new normal.” MAGNET is checking in with local musicians to see how and what they’re doing during this unprecedented time. Photos by Chris Sikich.
Jason Henn (guitar, vocals): It’s hard to put into words how we feel at the moment. Some of our friends and co-workers have lost family members to COVID-19. Our close friend Alice died after a long illness that wasn’t COVID-related, but no one could be there with her in the hospital because of the virus, and that was heartbreaking. A lot of our friends are in bands or work service jobs and get by on a slim margin even in good times, and we all feel their anxiety right now.
We didn’t have a ton scheduled for the spring, so the biggest disruption for the band has been to finishing recordings for a new album, though we’re attempting some remote recording. We were looking forward to playing with Eyelids and Early Day Miners in April, and we hope those shows can be rescheduled. We were also invited to the U.K., which is obviously on hold until it’s safe to do. We usually play some long-weekend trips throughout the year, and probably would have gone south or northeast at some point this summer if things were normal. About the only thing unaffected is our group text thread, which is mostly Beatles memes.
Releases are moving forward, and our latest one is an LP compilation called Sing The Snow Away, which collects singles released on the Chunklet label between 2015-18. We dug up about 10 bonus tracks, and Byron Coley wrote an essay on the band’s history with very thoughtful notes on the songs.
Jordan (Burgis, bass) has had the toughest quarantine of us all. His neighbors’ house caught on fire, and it spread to his house. Jordan and his partner got out unharmed, but sadly not everyone next door did. A total nightmare to have happen in the middle of this already insane time. Before the fire, he was mixing and mastering a number of projects, recording a bunch of guitar and clarinet noise, and released an album and two EPs with Magnetic Bells. There’s another EP on the way, though now he’s mixing it via Bluetooth to the TV in his hotel room.
Armen (Knox, guitar) has been really productive. He finished a new solo album in quarantine that he released on April Fools’ Day, and his band Fake Nudes contributed a track to the Fuel The Fight comp to benefit frontline workers.
Mark (Rice, drums) and his partner run a print studio called Pressure Club, and he’s been posting new work online, including some great experimental puzzles. He also drums in the Coke Dares, and they’ve been doing a webinar-style series of discussions of their latest album, Fake Lake.
Quarantine for Jesse (Stober, guitar) has mostly consisted of episodes of 90 Day Fiancé and alien conspiracy-theory documentaries. I saw him briefly to hand off a plant that belonged to Alice. He texts semi-regularly about Japanese noise records and Jim Shepard.
I’m very fortunate to be able to do my job remotely more or less the same as before and am trying to pay it forward. Everyone should tip their postal carrier and delivery drivers as much as humanly possible. One silver lining of working from home has been listening to music all day. The new Lithics album just hit my doorstep. I’m close to finishing my County Records collection and just got the last Messthetics comp I needed, so I’m listening to Fiddlin’ Doc Roberts and the Versatile Newts nonstop.